The Dallas Mavericks are at the Washington Wizards tonight. (GameThread and DBcom Discussion Boards here.) Dallas is struggling with injuries a bit. Nerlens Noel's knee is a lingering issue (and you'd sure like to know he's a healthy guy as he enters restricted free agency this summer) and Wesley Matthews' calf is, too, and as the Locked On Mavs podcast notes, in the last dozen games Wes is down to 9.4 point per game and 32-percent shooting. (UPDATE: Both went through shootaround this morning; Noel is playing on trying to play, Matthews figures to be a game-time decision.)
That's part of an overall Dallas slump that comes at the wrong time as the Wizards are 41-25 and in third place, one-half game behind the Celtics, in the Eastern Conference standings.
Washington gave up at least 113 points in all five games during its recent otherwise-successful road trip, but can outscore you thanks to John Wall, who was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. Dallas is at 28-38 and seems to be vulnerable offensively. The Mavericks shot 36.5 percent and scored only 32 points in the second half of Monday's 100-78 loss at Toronto.
"We didn't shoot the ball well enough," said Dirk Nowitzki, who recently entered the 30K Points Club. "It's putting a lot of strain on the defense. Our defense just wasn't good enough."
The Mavericks are 3.5 games behind Denver for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West. The test tonight comes against a Wiz team that lost at Dallas back on Jan. 3 ... but is 25-7 since.
We discuss it all inside our Locked On Mavs podcast: