Dallas Mavericks at Memphis Grizzlies - Game 24 Preview - The Return of OJ Mayo

USA TODAY Sports

To celebrate the end of the night of the end of the world, OJ Mayo returns to the FedEx Forum as the leading scorer of a 12-14 Mavericks team. Here's what to watch for.

Overview

Records: Dallas Mavericks (12-14) at Memphis Grizzlies (17-6)

8:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

FedExForum, Memphis, TN

Line: Memphis by -10.5, O/U: 188.0

Opponent Blog: Mavs Moneyball

Injury Report: DAL: Wright DTD, Brand DTD, Fisher DTD, Nowitzki OUT, Kaman DTD; MEM: Arthur DTD

Memphis Grizzlies Tickets

The Mayo Story

After the conclusion of the 2011-2012 season, Dallas began a busy offseason by signing coach Rick Carlisle to a pretty contract extension. Their draft strategy was pretty simple: get younger. In the draft, the Mavericks snagged the rights to Jared Cunningham, Bernard James, and the 34th overall selection Jae Crowder from Cleveland in exchange for guard Kelenna Azubuike and the draft rights to the 17th overall pick Tyler Zeller. On July 12, 2012, Dallas acquired PG Darren Collison and forward Dahntay Jones form Indiana in exchange for C Ian Mahinmi.

Then, on July 19, 2012, Dallas signed (free agent) OJ Mayo after Mayo ended his fourth season in Memphis. In his four years he averaged 15.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.1 steals, and 32.8 minutes across 301 games (181 of them were starts).

It's hard to summarize OJ Mayo's career in Memphis. He was always the guy expected to have a breakout season, but didn't. He gradually fell out of the starting lineup and became a respectable sixth man, but never truly aspired to be more than that. Some say he was overrated from the start. Others say he never had a spot to flourish as a player in Hollins' offense.

Mayo In Dallas

Mayo answered his doubters by becoming the guy in Dallas this season. He's averaged 25.2 points on 55.5% shooting in Dallas' 12 wins this season. In their 14 losses,, he's averaged 15.9 points on 40.1% shooting. Dallas is 7-1 this season when Mayo scores at least 25; 11-6 in games in which Mayo was their leading scorer (including each of the four overtime losses this season).

As a Maverick, he's averaged 20.2 points overall - an increase of 7.6 points per game from 2011-12 to 2012-13 (averaged only 12.6 ppg last year with Memphis). After recording only six 20-point games with Memphis, he claims fourteen 20+ games with Dallas.

Last bit - and arguably the most impressive - is Mayo currently ranking third in the NBA with 68 3-pointers this season (behind Ryan Anderson and Stephen Curry). He leads the league in 3-point field goal percentage (0.500).

The Rest of the Game

Part of me is happy for OJ's success in Dallas, while the other part of me can't help but think, "Where was THAT, OJ?!" Fortunately, OJ Mayo doesn't make up the entire team of Dallas. There will still be nine other guys on the court tonight working to decide the outcome of the game.

Dallas is coming into the Forum tonight attempting to avoid a fifth loss in six games. The Grizzlies have won three straight. After holding Milwaukee to only 80 points (season-low) led by a Zach Randolph double-double (his NBA-leading 19th of the season ), the Grizzlies are still trying to find their offensive spark: they've scored only 86, 80, and 90 in their last three games.

But it's been the defense shining brightly this season: the Grizzlies rank first in the league allowing only 89.5 points per game. The defensive leader is Tony Allen: averaging a career-high 1.90 steals this season.

Tony Allen, our defensive leader, just so happens to be guarding OJ Mayo tonight. OJ Mayo is also coming off one of his worst performances, going 3 for 14 from the field and finishing with only 8 points in last night's affair with Miami. Lets see if TA can make it a bit worse for him tonight.

Final Prediction

I don't think tonight is the night where Memphis rediscovers their offense, but their defense will come out in full force as it does every game. Look for big nights from Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, and don't forget to look over at Tony Allen doing his scrappy thing against OJ.

Dallas 90, Memphis 99

See you guys tonight!

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