Mavericks face Thunder, look at two big ‘mile markers’

Coming off a strong month, but perhaps their most disappointing loss of the season, the Dallas Mavericks are turning their attention forward.

«There’s two mile markers that are big right now — the trade deadline and the All-Star break,» Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. «Once we get past these two mile markers, then it’s a spring to the end of the season.»

With four games remaining before the trade deadline on Feb. 10 and eight before the All-Star break — the game is Feb. 20 — Dallas is looking to bounce back from Sunday’s loss in Orlando and continue to solidify itself among the top teams in the Western Conference.

That effort will begin against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night in Dallas in the opener of a season-long six-game homestand.

The most recent time the Mavericks and Thunder met, Jan. 17 in Dallas, Tim Hardaway Jr. had a steal just before the buzzer to help the Mavericks hold on for a 104-102 win.

Kristaps Porzingis played a big role in that Dallas win as well, with 13 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.

On Wednesday, the Mavericks will be without both Porzingis and Hardaway, plus Sterling Brown.

Porzingis will be out for the second consecutive game after leaving Saturday’s win over Indiana with right-knee soreness while Hardaway is likely to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on his left foot Tuesday, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Brown will miss his eighth straight game because of a foot injury.

The Mavericks have won the first three meetings with Oklahoma City this season.

While the Mavericks have been surging, going 12-4 in January, the Thunder were just 2-12.

Oklahoma City snapped a seven-game losing streak with Monday’s 98-81 win over Portland in the first game since leading scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander suffered a right-ankle sprain that will keep him out until after the All-Star break.

In Monday’s win, Thunder rookie Josh Giddey became the youngest player since LeBron James to reach 500 points, 200 rebounds and 200 assists, doing it in just 44 games.

While Giddey has gotten plenty of attention for his success, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl also has looked like a solid building block for Oklahoma City’s future.

Robinson-Earl, who has started 36 games this season, figures to return to the Thunder rotation Wednesday after playing in the G League on Monday afternoon before sitting out that night against the Trail Blazers.

It was just the fifth game Robinson-Earl has missed this season. The other four came just after Christmas when he was in the NBA’s health and safety protocol.

Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said the move was with Robinson-Earl’s development in mind.

«Changing roles is good for development,» Daigneault said. «Getting him there with a team that he hasn’t been with before, where he’s got a little bit of status and can walk in with his chest out, and kind of seeing how he reacts to that is a valuable learning opportunity for us. I think it’s a valuable learning opportunity for him.»

Robinson-Earl is averaging 10 points in two meetings against the Mavericks this season.

–Field Level Media

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