Two excellent Western conference basketball games take place on Tuesday, March 24, as the San Antonio Spurs visit their Texas rivals the Dallas Mavericks, followed by the Golden State Warriors playing the struggling Portland Trail Blazers.
The Spurs are surging going into their clash with Dallas, their third of the season. They’ve won their last three including a 19 point win in Atlanta and are 10-2 since February 27, taking them to sixth in the West, one game behind the Clippers and one ahead of the Mavericks. A win here can go a long way in making sure they don’t finish below sixth and avoid meeting the Warriors or the Grizzlies.
The return to health and form of Kawhi Leonard seems to have been the biggest change over the last few weeks, averaging 19.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and shooting 54% from the field in March. Tiago Splitter has scored 41 points over the last couple of games and Tony Parker, another player who had a rough start to 2015, is averaging 19.9 points and shooting 58.5% from the field over the last 10 games.
The Mavericks? Problems. Falling to 7th in the West is one of them, although a six game lead over 9th place Phoenix means they won’t miss the playoffs. But a team that looked amazing offensively before the All-Star break is struggling with injuries, depth issues and the balance of their backcourt with Rajon Rondo and Monta Ellis fighting for dominance.
The Mavericks have lost two in a row and are just 5-7 in the last month, which has included blowout losses to the Warriors, Cavaliers and Blazers. They’re a team that can beat the Clippers by 30 points on a good day, but more than half the time they depend on how well Monta Ellis is doing, and he is just 7-of-31 from the field in the last two games. The Mavericks are 8-16 when he is shooting 40% or worse.
In Portland, the Warriors might be in for an easy game against a team that’s quickly slipping down the standings, with injuries ruining all the great work they’ve done this season. Wesley Matthews is out for the season (they’re 3-5 since his injury), and now LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum are out as well with minor injuries that are still enough to worry about.
The Warriors on the other hand are doing just fine on top of the NBA (57-13), winning six in a row since their shock loss against Denver. After a rough patch on the final week of February, they’re 12-2 in March, winning seven of their games in double figures, including destroying the Wizards by 31 points on their most recent outing, led by Stephen Curry who is shooting 47.7% from beyond the arc this month.