Though Stephen Curry is expected to play in the opener of a difficult back-to-back set, the Golden State Warriors haven’t needed big games from the ailing star during their winning streak.
The Dallas Mavericks are also finding success despite the recent poor shooting of 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki.
Though Curry could be limited, the Warriors seek their longest run since a historic streak two months ago while the visiting Mavericks try for a third straight victory Tuesday night.
Curry ranks among NBA leaders with 23.5 points per game, but he’s averaged 16.0 and gone 5 of 18 from beyond the arc while nursing a strained right quad during the team’s four-game win streak.
The All-Star guard finished with 18 points – 5.6 below his season average – and nine assists in 30 minutes, which was also below his 2013-14 average of more than 35, in a 113-107 victory over Phoenix on Sunday. He’s been held to fewer than 20 points in four straight games for the first time in 2014.
”(Coach Mark Jackson) always asks me if something’s going on, whether it was my ankle back in the day or something small like this," said Curry, who insists on playing through the injury. ”I’m surprised he still asked me because he already knows the answer.”
That hasn’t stopped the Warriors (40-24) from moving a season-high 16 games above .500. They haven’t won five in a row since a 10-game run Dec. 21-Jan. 7 that was their longest since 1975-76.
Golden State, 9-2 since the All-Star break, is two games ahead of Dallas (38-26) for sixth place in the tightly bunched Western Conference. It visits the fourth-place Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.
In the last meeting with the Mavericks in Oakland, Curry scored 16 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and made a jumper with three seconds left to help Golden State rally from an 18-point deficit in a 95-93 win Dec. 11. He scored 29 with six 3-pointers as the Warriors nearly dug out of a 17-point hole in a 103-99 loss at Dallas on Nov. 27.
The Mavericks haven’t done well of late holding leads against other opponents, as they had to rally after blowing a 30-point edge in a 103-98 win over Portland on Friday and nearly gave up a 17-point advantage in a 105-94 victory over Indiana on Sunday.
Despite the close calls, the two wins have followed a season-worst three-game skid for Dallas.
”In these two games, we’ve run the gamut of virtually everything,” coach Rick Carlisle said. ”The early big lead, losing the entire lead, getting down and fighting back.”
Devin Harris and Monta Ellis each contributed 20 points Sunday as the Mavericks prevailed despite 3-of-14 shooting from Nowitzki, who has scored a combined 36 while going 11 for 33 from the field in the last two wins. He’ll try to get back on track while helping Dallas avoid matching a season high with a third straight road loss.
Although the Warriors held a 102-86 advantage on the boards in the first two meetings of the season, they committed 37 turnovers to the Mavericks’ 20. Dallas leads the NBA with a plus-3.0 turnover margin.
The Mavericks, however, have allowed an average of 109.8 points in their last five road contests. That doesn’t bode well against a Golden State team that has scored 108.7 per game in its last six at home.
The Warriors have won four of five meetings in Oakland.