The Dallas Mavericks have always been about offense. Dirk Nowitzki has had a lot to do with this. How often do you find a 7'1" forward who is capable of draining threes, taking it to the hole, and posting up? In case you're not too familiar with the NBA, this is extremely rare. Just think of Yao Ming. Can you imagine him shooting three-pointers and having success on a consistent basis? Not going to happen. Nowitzki also has a lot of offensive help from teammates. Jason Terry scored 25 the other night vs. the Grizzlies and Shawn Marion came off the bench to score 20. Caron Butler didn't play in that game due to back spasms, but that was only a precautionary measure. He and his 14.7 points per game will be returning to the lineup vs. the Philadelphia 76'ers on Friday. Offense is exciting, but as the saying goes, defense wins championships. The only reason the Mavericks have not won a championship is because of lackluster defense. Last year, they were 15th in the league in opponents shooting percentage when opposing teams shot 45% against them. 15th in the league isn't terrible, but it's not even close to good enough if you're looking to win a championship. This season, the Mavericks have improved in that area. So far, they are ranked 2nd in opposing shooting percentage with opposing teams only shooting 41% against them. The only team with better defense is the Miami Heat. New addition Tyson Chandler at Center definitely has something to do with this improvement. The Mavericks are currently 5-2 and 2-2 at home. They have won 4 out of 5.
The Philadelphia 76'ers are one of the youngest and most energetic teams in the league. They have a ton of athleticism, which can translate into a lot of fast breaks and easy points. This is the main reason they have scored at least 100 points in five consecutive games, which they have not done since 2005. On the other hand, this energetic youth can also lead to a lot of turnovers and over-aggression on defense. Turnovers are an absolute killer. And the aggressiveness on defense puts opposing teams on the line for easy points. Another challenge for a team like this is having to deal with organized defense schemes while on offense. For example, the Mavericks will be trapping a lot, hoping to force the 76'ers young guards into turning the ball over. If the 76'ers prepare for this and handle it well, they will have an opportunity to use their athleticism to earn a win on the road. If the 76'ers are not poised and get flustered by this type of defense, the Mavericks will win. This game comes down to patience and intelligence more than anything else. The 76'ers are currently 2-6 and 1-3 on the road. Despite a poor record, they have been scoring a ton of points recently. This should be a high-scoring affair.