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NBA: Philadelphia 76ers @ Dallas Mavericks preview

Philadelphia's tough post-All-Star run continues with a visit to Dallas as this match-up with the Mavericks puts the Eastern Conference contenders up against one of the best home sides in the league.

This is also a reunion for James Harden and Kyrie Irving, who saw their relationship sour while playing together on the Brooklyn Nets at the turn of last year.

Irving has yet to fully click with Luka Doncic in Dallas. The pair need to get on the same page in order to halt their slide, starting against the Sixers.

WhatPHI 76ers @ DAL Mavericks
WhereAmerican Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
When00:40, Friday, 3rd March 2023
How to watchbet365 Sports Live Streaming, NBA Pass, Sky Sports
OddsPHI 76ers 13/10, DAL Mavericks 4/6

Tough backcourt balancing act

The Dallas Mavericks did exactly what they were supposed to do when a big star went on the trade block last month. They moved to ease the burden on Luka Doncic, which had increased since Jalen Brunson's summer departure.

Doncic has always had an air of a one-man show around him, so the fit with Irving was something many questioned. After a run of five losses in six, things aren't looking too rosy.

Trying to get two primary ball-handlers to complement each other is a tall order. Coach Jason Kidd doesn't seem to have figured out the best combinations for the two guards to get the best out of them and the rest of the team.

The Mavs sacrificed defensive talent in the Kyrie trade, meaning they have to step it up a gear offensively.

However, they are only up eight points per game across their last six compared to the season average. With the team looking a bit more vulnerable at the other end of the court, Dallas are dropping games at an alarming rate.

The hosts have a 20-12 home record this term but they are 1-2 on their current home stand. If they don't find a solution soon, expect their 16/1 odds for the championship to slide.

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Sixers out to rally

The Sixers come into this clash having won six of their last eight games, but two big defeats have dented their championship credentials. A 110-107 loss to the Celtics was followed by a 101-99 loss at home to the Miami Heat.

The Sixers did bounce back with an away win at the Heat, without Joel Embiid. As it was the first leg of a back-to-back there's every chance we see him return for this match-up, but at the time of writing, he's still listed as questionable.

While the visitors have lost two crucial recent games, they have an 18-9 record against sides who are over .500 this term. The Sixers tend to excel against better teams and they boast a 16-11 road record. They look good value for the win at 13/10 even without Embiid, given their own guard depth.

The Sixers have their own standout backcourt in Harden and Tyrese Maxey. They've had a lot more time to work things out together, but they've locked into a rhythm which has seen Maxey take more scoring burden as Harden dishes out assists.

Maxey had a stellar game against the Heat last time out, with 27 points and seven assists. The Mavs don't really have anyone to guard Maxey and if he can get one-on-one with either of the Mavs' backcourt then he could have a great night in Dallas.

Back Doncic to shine

Even with the issues the Mavericks are having right now, Doncic continues to put up numbers. The All-Star guard is averaging 31.6 points per game across his last six outings, although that's slightly down from his 33.2 average for the season.

He seems to have become a little more passive since Kyrie arrived, which is understandable given how long he has carried the Mavs on his own.

However, he can afford to stay like that in the closing stages of the season, with his team now dropped into the Play-in tournament as things stand.

A side as defensively vulnerable as the Mavs can't afford to risk everything on a one-off game, so they need their backcourt pair to lock in for the final 19 games of the season.

Luka is a reliable scorer and he tends to put on a show for the home faithful, having posted 39 points against the Indiana Pacers in his last appearance. Look to him to score over 30.5 points in this one, which can be backed at 5/6.

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