Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sixers host the Nowitzki-less Dallas Mavericks tonight.

Dirk Nowitzki hasn't played for the Dallas Mavericks yet this season, but they've managed to win half of their 14 games. Former Sixer Elton Brand is helping to pick up the slack.

Sixers host the Nowitzki-less Dallas Mavericks tonight.

Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins talks to Thaddeus Young (21) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, in Cleveland. (Mark Duncan/AP)
Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins talks to Thaddeus Young (21) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012, in Cleveland. (Mark Duncan/AP)

The Dallas Mavericks play eight of their next 10 games on the road, a place that hasn't been too good to them so far this season as they've lost four of five.

While both teams are hoping to get their superstar player on the court soon (Nowitizki could be ready in a couple of weeks while there is no timetable for Andrew Bynum) they have done pretty much what they've hoped and that's stay around the .500 mark. Dallas enters Tuesday's game at 7-7 while the Sixers are 8-6.

Also like the Sixers, the Mavericks have struggled rebounding the basketball. In their last game, a 115-89 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Mavs got beat 61-39 on the boards. The Sixers have struggled in that area all seasons, but are averaging 106.3 points in their past three games.

O.J. Mayo leads the Mavericks at 21.5 points a game and has a league-best 42 three-pointers made.

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One of the key matchups tonight will be at the power forward position where Thaddeus Young will be battling former teammate Elton Brand. Young has been hot of late and is averaging 13.6 points and 7.9 rebounds a game. He should be able to use his quickness against Brand to get to the basket.

The teams are similar in that they both rely on their outside shooting much more than any type of inside game. If the shots aren't falling from distance tonight for either team, it could be an ugly one. But if both find their strokes, it could make for a high-scoring, fan-loving affair.

If the Sixers can at least hold their own on the boards they should be able to get out and run a bit, something that they do very well when they can do it.

At shootaround this morning, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle heaped heavy praise upon Sixers coach Doug Collins.

"He's the best coach in the league," said Carlisle. "Pound for pound there's no better coach than Doug Collins. He's doing a great job with them. They don't have Bynum, who was the focal point of what they were doing. But the pieces that they've got are playing great basketball. We're going to have to be really solid to beat them."

Bob Cooney
About this blog
Bob Cooney has been at the Daily News for more than 20 years, working in the sports department for the past 15. This is his third season on the Sixers beat. He has covered just about everything, but mostly college basketball, where he was the La Salle beat writer for six seasons. E-mail Bob at cooneyb@phillynews.com and follow him on Twitter.

Bob Cooney
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