Over the last week, one of the only Western Conference teams struggling more than the Dallas Mavericks, currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak, has been the Denver Nuggets, who have lost five of their last six while being ravaged by injuries.
Danilo Gallinari, their 6'9 225 small forward, was receiving All-Star consideration before severely spraining his ankle in a 99-90 loss to the Houston Rockets Monday night.
Three of their other starters have missed time -- Nene, Arron Afflalo and Timofey Mozgov -- although Nene and Afflalo are expected back when they host the Mavericks on Wednesday night.
However, Denver, one of the deepest teams in the NBA, will still be a tough challenge for the aging Mavericks, who have struggled against fast, athletic teams like the Nuggets for years.
The back-court of Ty Lawson and Andre Miller carved up Dallas in their 115-93 victory over the Mavericks in late December, although the absence of Jason Kidd, who no longer has the foot-speed to stay in front of players like Lawson, may prove an unexpected benefit defensively.
Kidd's absence has been felt more on the offensive side of the ball, as Dallas has struggled with turnovers with Rodrigue Beaubois, Delonte West and Jason Terry running the point.
For Dirk Nowitzki, who has had an up-and-down season while struggling with his knee and conditioning in the compressed regular season, the match-up with Denver's Al Harrington at the power forward position should be an opportunity to regain some of his magic from last season's playoff run, as the 6'10 Harrington has no real conceivable shot of contesting Dirk's jumper.
The 8:00 PM game will be televised regionally on Fox Sports Southwest.