Grizzlies-Mavericks Preview

For a team trying to secure home-court advantage in the first

round of the playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks are struggling at

American Airlines Center.

The Mavericks will try to avoid being swept in a three-game

homestand as they host the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday – the

second meeting between the teams in a week.

With the Lakers owning a comfortable lead atop the Western

Conference, Dallas (50-27) is battling with Denver, Utah and

Phoenix for one of the three remaining top seeds in the conference,

which earn home-court advantage in the first round of the

playoffs.

The Mavericks, though, might prefer to start on the road given

their recent struggles in Dallas. After winning 13 in a row overall

from Feb. 17-March 10, they have since gone 5-6 and lost their last

two. Dallas, which after Wednesday plays three of its remaining

four games on the road, has suffered four of those defeats at

home.

The last time it lost three in a row in Dallas was a four-game

slide to start last season.

The Mavericks can look to their defensive struggles as a big

reason for their recent slump. On Saturday, they lost 121-116 to

Oklahoma City, allowing the Thunder to shoot 51.9 percent and lead

by as many as 19 points. Over their last 11 games, they have

yielded 104.6 points per game while during the winning streak,

opponents were averaging 97.1 points.

“When we won 13 in a row, the defense was much better,” center

Brendan Haywood said. “We have to improve our intensity on

defense.”

They’ll face another test against the Grizzlies (39-38), who are

averaging 105.3 points in their last eight games. Although Dallas

has won two of three against Memphis, the victories came by a

combined nine points and one went to overtime. It has won eight

straight at home over the Grizzlies, however, including a 106-101

victory in December.

Memphis has averaged 100.3 points in the season series with the

Mavericks, but shot 40.9 percent in a 106-102 overtime loss at home

March 31. Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 30 points in Saturday’s loss,

finished with 28 in that win despite shooting 9 of 23.

Nowitzki is averaging 29.0 points the last four games.

While the Grizzlies are proving tough to slow down, they are

also giving up 106.3 points in their last eight games and have lost

five of six. They fell 113-103 to Houston on Tuesday.

Memphis came as close as 103-101 with 2:26 left, but the

Grizzlies couldn’t overcome 16 turnovers that led to 24 points by

Houston.

“It seems like this game was a lot closer than a lot of our

other games,” forward Darrell Arthur said. “We couldn’t make a play

at the end.”

Zach Randolph scored 22 points. He is averaging 22.0 points and

11.4 rebounds over his last nine games.

Randolph is looking to help the Grizzlies finish with their

first winning season since 2005-06. They need to win three of their

final five games, but four are against playoff teams – all on the

road.

Memphis hasn’t won in Dallas since a 112-92 victory Nov. 26,

2005.