Detroit Pistons vs. Dallas Mavericks Pick & Prediction MARCH 9th 2024

The Dallas Mavericks would prefer to avoid the play-in tournament. That’s why they can’t afford to squander an opportunity like they have on Saturday night.

They’ll visit Detroit to face the Pistons, who just won their 10th game this season.

Dallas sits eighth in the Western Conference standings. The top six finishers will automatically qualify for the opening round of the playoffs.

The Mavericks snapped a three-game losing streak by defeating Miami 114-108 Thursday.

“Every game is critical for us,” swingman Dante Exum said. “We need to kind of set our foot down and create this identity of who we’re going to be going into the postseason. If we lock down on defense, we’re an offensive team that can outscore anybody.”

Dallas’ defense was ineffective during the previous six games, as it gave up anywhere from 120 to 138 points. The only win the Mavs recorded during that stretch was a 136-125 triumph in Toronto, when it shot 54.2 percent from the field.

Their win over the Heat wasn’t decided until crunch time. Exum made a go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:15 left. With his team up by three, Exum drained two free throws with 21 seconds left to secure the victory.

“Miami’s a tough team. They have a winning coach over there,” Luka Doncic said. “It was a tough game. I’m happy we got a win. I think we showed our physicality, too. The refs were letting us play.”

Doncic can make history on Saturday. He became the second player in NBA history to notch five consecutive 30-point triple-doubles with 35 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists against the Heat. Russell Westbrook recorded five straight 30-point triple-doubles in 2017.

Doncic is averaging a league-high 34.6 points, 9.8 assists and 9.0 rebounds.

“I’ve always said we can’t take that young man for granted,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said. “You’re seeing something as rare as a Picasso.”

Victories for the Pistons are also a rare occurrence. Detroit, which had lost nine of its previous 10 outings, opened a six-game homestand on Thursday with a 118-112 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

The Pistons’ starting backcourt of Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey combined for 66 points. Cunningham also dished out 11 assists.

“When we’re on the floor together, there’s going to be shots open for us,” Ivey said. “Continuing to make the right play for the whole team is really good for us, and we’ve got to continue to watch film and see where we can improve. That’s the way that we wanted to finish it (Thursday).”

Detroit is still trying to figure out whether Cunningham and Ivey can coexist long-term as its backcourt combination.

“It’s mainly on me and (Ivey’s) approach to the game, being aggressive and making plays for our team,” Cunningham said. “It can’t be a ‘my turn, your turn’ (situation). It has to be both of us going at the same time.

“Whenever it hits our hands, we go. (We) talk about it all the time. We’ve been wanting to do this and we’re just learning from each game. I feel like we’ve been getting better.”

This will be the first of two meetings between the Mavs and Pistons. They’ll hold the rematch April 12 in Dallas.

–Field Level Media

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