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Kings vs. Mavericks Preview: Rondo Revenge game?

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Kings are in real danger of slipping to below .500 since their much heralded "team meeting".  A big part of that however has been the fact that DeMarcus Cousins continues to miss time, and is questionable to play as well.  The Kings haven't been able to figure out how to win without him, and a veteran Mavericks team is going to provide a stiff challenge. Today's action tips off at 7:00 pm on CSN California and on KHTK 1140.

3 Questions

1. When is it ever safe to count out the Mavericks?  After a supposedly disastrous offseason in which they missed out on prized free agent DeAndre Jordan (after Jordan had verbally committed to Dallas), the Mavericks were left for dead by many in the media.  Yet Dallas is for all intents and purposes playing better than the Clippers, who did get Jordan, and it's because of their 10th ranked defense and the fact that Dirk Nowitzki is timeless.  Nowitzki is in his 17th year in the league and is still averaging 17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds all while shooting 52.3% from the field, 50% from three and 91.1% from the line.

2. How will Rondo react?  This is going to be his first game against the team that ended up unceremoniously dumping and disparaging him after a falling out between Rondo and Rick Carlisle in last year's playoffs.  Mark Cuban has said some nice things about Rondo since leaving, but there's no question that there's got to be some animosity there.  I expect Rondo will be a little more motivated than usual to grab this win tonight.

3. Which Rudy Gay will show up?  The Kings only win without Cousins came in part to dominance by Rudy Gay.  Yet the very next outing saw Gay have not just one of his worst games in Sacramento, but one of his worst ever, totaling just 2 points on 1-13 shooting.  If Rudy had even been able to play to a below average standard of his usual play, the Kings probably would have won.

MATCHUP OF THE GAME

Who guards Dirk?

As I mentioned above, Dirk Nowitzki is having a hell of a year despite his increasing age.  The Kings don't necessarily have a perfect matchup for him here.  I expect we will see multiple matchups here.  Karl might be tempted to start Rudy Gay at the 4 and Omri Casspi at the 3, but I would like to see the rookie get some burn on Dirk.  His quickness and length might bother Dirk, and it will be a good experience since these are the kind of guys we will be seeing WCS have to guard as his career goes along and the three ball is still in style.

PREDICTION

Browns 27, Ravens 24