PREVIEW: Golden State Warriors set for opener of Dallas Mavericks’ doubleheader

By Field Level Media
Jan 30, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) in action during the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors embark on one of the most unusual road trips in franchise history, and do so without any of the three centers on their roster, when they visit the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday night.

The Warriors landed in Dallas on Wednesday to begin a seven-day stay in the state of Texas, one in which they will visit just two cities.

After facing the Mavericks on Thursday and Saturday, the Warriors will move on to San Antonio, where they also will face the same opponent, the Spurs, in consecutive games on Monday and Tuesday.

The Warriors are coming off a 111-107 home loss to the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, a game in which starting center Kevon Looney sustained a left ankle sprain that is expected to keep him out at least two weeks.

Golden State was already down Marquese Chriss, who broke his right leg early in the season, and James Wiseman, who sprained his left wrist Saturday in the Warriors’ win over the Detroit Pistons.

The remaining Warriors center options are all undersized forwards — 6-foot-6 Draymond Green, 6-6 Eric Paschall and 6-6 Juan Toscano-Anderson, who had been inactive 11 times in Golden State’s previous 14 games before earning a spot on the end of the bench Tuesday with Wiseman unavailable.

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Toscano-Anderson was then pressed into 27 minutes of action against the Celtics, and he equaled his career-high in points (16) and 3-pointers (three).

“I am always prepared,” the former four-year Marquette player said after the Tuesday game. “I am a position-less player.

“My goal is to earn the trust of Steve (Kerr, the head coach,) and the rest of the coaching staff. Wherever he puts me in to plug a hole, that’s where I am going to try to be effective. Whether that is initiating the offense, defending the point guard, playing (center) … it is basketball and I just want to be effective wherever he puts me. I am ready for whatever.”

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In this case, Toscano-Anderson probably should be ready for 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis, who contributed 24 points and 11 rebounds to Dallas’ 122-116 win at Atlanta on the front end of a back-to-back on Wednesday.

The oft-injured Porzingis hasn’t always played back-to-backs this season, so he’s no sure thing for the Thursday contest. He sat out Dallas’ Saturday home loss to Phoenix under similar circumstances after having played the night before at Utah.

Unlike the Warriors, the Mavericks have legitimate center options should they decide to rest Porzingis again. Willie Cauley-Stein, who started 37 games for Golden State last season and has started 10 of 22 for Dallas this season, would be an option, as would lesser-used backup Boban Marjanovic.

The teams haven’t met this season after the Mavericks crushed the Warriors in three straight last season, winning by an average of 31.7 points.

Luka Doncic averaged 28.7 points, 10.0 rebounds and 9.3 assists in those games. Porzingis saw action in two of the contests, going for 16 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.

Doncic amassed 27 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds Wednesday against the Hawks as Dallas snapped a six-game losing streak.

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Even though it’s a back-to-back, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle left Atlanta looking forward to having his team in action again.

“Winning is huge,” he said. “It makes a big difference. Things are very upbeat right now.”

–Field Level Media