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Nets begin 2020 in Dallas against the Mavs

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Dallas Mavericks v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

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Simply put, the Brooklyn Nets are not a good basketball team right now. They visited Minnesota to face the injury ravaged Timberwolves, but were unable to take full advantage and wound up losing in overtime. It was their third straight loss and fourth in the last five games.

The opponent tonight will be the Dallas Mavericks. I don't think many people predicted the Mavs to be solidly in playoff contention, but it's January and here we are. They lost a close one on the road to the Oklahoma City Thunder on New Year's Eve.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 8:30 PM.

Injuries

Caris LeVert (thumb), Kyrie Irving (shoulder), Nicolas Claxton (hamstring), Kevin Durant (Achilles) and David Nwaba (Achilles) are all out. Garrett Temple is dealing with a sore knee and he's questionable for this one.

Tim Hardaway, Jr is out with a hamstring injury. Ryan Broekhoff fractured his left fibula at the end of the Mavs loss to the Los Angeles Lakers and he is out indefinitely. Kristaps Porzingis is questionable with a knee injury.

The game

If you're like me, you're probably on another bowl of soup joumou right now. Jennifer Martineau wrote a great explainer of the dish over at Woy Magazine a few years back. I'd recommend it.

This one's gonna be won from deep. Dallas is second in threes attempted per game and Brooklyn is sixth. The Mavs are tenth in efficiency while Brooklyn is all the way down at 28th. Dallas' success from three partially explains why they've exceeded so many expectations so far. Josh Bowe of Mavs Moneyball explains:

Despite Dallas not having a ton of shooters you’d consider elite or even deadly (until Seth kicks it into gear), it almost doesn’t matter because the Mavericks shoot so many threes to tilt the math in their favor. The Mavericks are second in the NBA with 40.5 three pointers taken per game. They only make 36.2 percent of them, which is 13th, so above average but not elite. But since, you know, threes are worth that much more than twos, above average at the volume the Mavericks are taking is great! Dallas doesn’t need to be elite at shooting threes, so long as they’re elite at taking them and taking good ones. Thank Luka for that, one of the best in the NBA in creating quality three point shots.

We'll get to the other reason Dallas is so good momentarily.

What also makes Dallas so great is they rarely turn the ball over. The Mavs have only coughed it up 12.9 percent of the time they've had the ball, lowest in the league. It's helped them to become the best offense in the league three months in. Rick Carlisle is a mastermind.

Assuming Porzingis is out, that will do wonders for the Nets' chances of pulling off the upset. Usually when bench players have to slot up a role, the team tends to suffer as a result. Maxi Kleber will see a lot of minutes and he's been having a quality season. Taurean Prince

Maybe Monday will be what sets Joe Harris back on the right track. Harris has been shooting only 39 percent from three over his last five games and 42 percent overall in the same time period. Granted, 39 percent from deep isn't bad, but Harris is one of the league's best marksmen from deep and they need as much out of him as possible.

Player to watch: Luka Doncic

What can you say? Dude has exceeded every expectation imaginable and is solidly in the top tier of NBA players. He's third in scoring and assists, tops in triple doubles, and has brought the Mavs out of their mid decade blues. You very rarely land star players that are this good this soon, and as Doncic gets even more experience and has some playoff appearances under his belt, he can grow to become even better than what he is right now.

Life is hard when you get thrown into a leading role out of nowhere. Spencer Dinwiddie has had to be the leading man on the Nets ever since Irving went down due to injury, and it might be starting to catch up to him. When Levert gets back, it will take a major burden off his shoulders as he'll have another playmaker to share duties with.

From the Vault

We're feeling pretty somber with the passing of David Stern, and while we will get to the various aspects of his legacy in the coming days and months, let's head back to an important Stern x Nets moment

More reading: Mavs Moneyball