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NBA

Bell Game of the Week: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks look to get back on track against Miami Heat

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Bell Game of the Week (NBA Canada)

Who's Playing

Matchup: Miami Heat vs. Dallas Mavericks

Records: Heat (2-2), Mavericks (1-3)

Where to Watch

Date: Friday, Jan. 1, 2021

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

TV: TSN (Canada), League Pass (USA)

Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

MORE: Watch live games on your favourite device with NBA League Pass

Game Preview

Welcome in the New Year with a matchup between two of the best teams in the NBA.

On Friday, the Dallas Mavericks will face the Miami Heat for the first time in the 2020-21 season. It's been somewhat of a struggle for both teams thus far, with the Heat sporting a 2-2 record and the Mavericks a 1-3 record through four games. Even so, the Heat and Mavericks are built to compete this season, with Miami looking to return to the NBA Finals following last season's surprising run and Dallas looking to establish itself as a contender in the Western Conference.

For the Mavericks, it all starts with Luka Doncic.

Doncic took the league by storm last season in leading the Mavericks back to the playoffs for the first time in four years with averages of 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game. According to Stathead, Doncic became only the third player in NBA history to post those numbers in a single season, joining Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson (four times) and one-time MVP Russell Westbrook (once).

For his efforts, Doncic finished fourth in MVP voting behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James and James Harden.

Heading into this season, our NBA.com Staff ranked Doncic as the sixth-best player in the league. While he's gotten off to a slower start than expected - Doncic is averaging 23.8 points, 6.3 assists and 5.8 rebounds per game on 43.8 percent shooting from the field and 9.5 percent from 3-point range through four games - it's only a matter of time until he's back to flirting with 30-point triple-doubles on a nightly basis again.

For the Heat, they proved to be one of the more balanced teams in the league last season. It showed in their most recent win over the Milwaukee Bucks, as five players scored in double figures. Goran Dragic led the way with a game-high 26 points, followed by Bam Adebayo (22), Tyler Herro (21), Avery Bradley (16) and Kelly Olynyk (15).

Adebayo also dished out 10 assists and grabbed eight rebounds, coming close to his fourth career triple-double.

Additionally, the Heat have one of the best 3-point shooters in the league in Duncan Robinson. The only players in NBA history who have reached the heights Robinson did as a 3-point shooter last season - taking at least 8.0 3-pointers per game and making them at a 40.0 percent clip - are Ray Allen, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Davis Bertans and Damian Lillard.

Robinson has already caught fire once this season, connecting on seven 3-pointers in Miami's Christmas Day win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

Unfortunately for the Heat, they've been without Jimmy Butler for two of their four games this season due to an ankle injury. It's still unknown when he will be able to return.

Injury Report

An injury report has not yet been submitted by either the Heat or Mavericks.

Check back closer to tipoff.

Game Notes

  • The Mavericks currently rank 11th in offensive efficiency (109.5) and 13th in defensive efficiency (108.5).
  • The Heat rank 21st in offensive efficiency (105.6) and 19th in defensive efficiency (112.4).
  • Luka Doncic and Goran Dragic are both from Slovenia. The two led Slovenia to a gold medal at Eurobasket 2017.
  • Bam Adebayo finished second in Most Improved Player voting last season behind Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram.
  • The only centres averaging more assists per game than Adebayo (5.0) so far this season are Julius Randle (7.0), Domantas Sabonis (7.2) and Nikola Jokic (13.5).
  • Mavericks centre Dwight Powell was born in Toronto, Canada. He has career averages of 7.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
  • Heat centre Kelly Olynyk was also born in Toronto, Canada. He has career averages of 9.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game on 37.2 percent shooting from 3-point range.

Last Time They Played

Date: Feb. 28, 2020

Score: Heat 126, Mavericks 118

Heat: Jimmy Butler - 26 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists

Mavericks: Seth Curry - 37 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists

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