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PREVIEW: Mavericks bring six-game losing streak into Atlanta

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 Dallas Mavericks will attempt to end a frustrating six-game losing streak on Wednesday night when they visit the Atlanta Hawks.

The Mavericks are coming off a 109-108 loss to Phoenix on Monday, a game decided by Devin Booker’s 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds left.

The Hawks, who have won five of their last eight games, went toe-to-toe with the world champion Los Angeles Lakers on Monday before faltering in the final two minutes and losing 107-99.

Dallas has its full complement of players on the roster again after the return of Maxi Kleber, who had missed 11 games in health and safety protocols. He produced two points and six rebounds in 18 minutes on Monday. Kleber and Kristaps Porzingis were both in the starting lineup for the first time this season, as the Mavs used their 12th different starting combination this season.

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It is uncertain whether Porzingis will be available for the Atlanta game as he continues to work his way back from an October knee surgery. He was withheld from the lineup Saturday and returned to play 34 minutes on Monday, when he tallied 19 points and 10 rebounds.

“Let me be clear, he wants to play in all of these games,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “It really bothers him.”

Josh Richardson scored a season-high 24 points against the Suns on Monday. It was his first time in double figures since Jan. 7, before he missed nine games due to health and safety protocols.

The Hawks were missing No. 2 scorer De’Andre Hunter, who was out after having a non-surgical procedure on his right knee on Sunday. He was replaced in the starting five by Cam Reddish, who played a solid defensive game against LeBron James. Atlanta is also missing reserve center Onyeka Okongwu with left Achilles soreness.

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Although the Hawks lost to the Lakers, they continue to hold their own against the league’s top teams, an indication of a potential breakthrough. Atlanta is sixth in the Eastern Conference standings. But the Atlanta players don’t want to think in terms of a moral victory.

“Just me as a competitor, if you lose, you lose,” Trae Young said. “Obviously, I know who we’re going up against and I felt like we had a chance to win that game.”

As usual, the meeting between the two teams will be another opportunity to compare Young with Dallas’ Luka Doncic. The Hawks originally drafted Doncic with the third overall pick in the 2018 draft, but immediately traded him away for Young, the No. 5 pick, and a first-round pick for 2019. Doncic and Young were both voted as starters for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game.

Doncic is averaging 27.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 9.4 assists. In two career games against the Hawks, Doncic has averaged 22.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

Young is averaging 26.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 9.0 assists. In four career games against the Mavericks, Young has averaged 19.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists.

Atlanta has won 11 of the last 13 meetings in the series against Dallas. They split the two games last season, with each team winning on their home court.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Mavericks, check out #MFFL rumors, rankings, and news here.

–Field Level Media