5 things to watch for in tonight’s Spurs vs. Mavs matchup

It’s a Texas-sized tussle tonight as old rivals once again face off as the San Antonio Spurs (12-8) take on the Dallas Mavericks (12-8) in Dallas.

Both teams are tied for first in the Southwest Division but both teams limp into this contest. Dallas’ star Dirk Nowitzki has been out of action for conditioning while Jason Kidd is out of action due to an injured right calf. Delonte West will return for the Mavs tonight after fighting through a hamstring injury. For San Antonio, they are still without the services of Manu Ginobili (fractured hand), and T.J. Ford (hamstring).

Adding to the Spurs’ woes is the fact this is a road game and the Spurs struggle away from the Alamo City. San Antonio is 2-7 on the road including a recent 79-87 road loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

So with first place in the division on the line tonight, here are five things to watch for tonight.

  • Mavs may be seeking revenge tonight. The Spurs thrashed the Mavs 93-71 in San Antonio this season. The 22-point victory by the Spurs marks the Mavs’ largest margin of defeat this season. Not to mention the Spurs have won the last two meetings versus the Mavs in Dallas.
  • Contain Ian Mahinmi. When the ex-Spur scores 10 or more points, Dallas is 5-1.
  • Dallas is quite good defensively. Dallas held opponents to under 100 points for 15 straight games from 12/30/11 to 1/23/12. Speaking of defense, Dallas allows 89.2 points per game (4th in the N.B.A.) and rank 3rd in the league in steals at 9.7.
  • Watch out for the Mavs’ bench. The Mavs are averaging a league-best 44.7 bench points per game this season.
  • Spurs better be leading at halftime. Dallas is 10-1 when leading at the break and 1-0 when tied at the break.
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