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Basketball

What I’m Watching: Can the Cowboys Slow Down Antonio Gibson and Washington?

Plus: the diverging fortunes of the Stars and Mavericks
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The Stars and Mavericks have flipped fortunes over the past two weeks. On Wednesday, we get a doubleheader to see if either, or both, see their fortunes change. Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ defense gets a pair of key contributors back just in time to play one of the NFC’s hottest teams.

Here’s what I’m watching this week:

Wednesday, 12/8: Mavericks at Grizzlies7:00 p.m., Bally Sports Southwest

On paper, tonight’s game against the Nets is a measuring stick against a true contender, but the last two weeks prove the Mavericks aren’t in that territory for the time being. The more urgent goal is to rule the roost in the Southwest division, something that seemed like a forgone conclusion entering the season but has hardly played out that way. Memphis, not Dallas, is leading the Southwest and is fresh off an injury-marred seven-point win over the Mavericks in the American Airlines Center on Saturday, in which neither of Luka Doncic nor Kristaps Porzingis were on the floor for Dallas while the Grizzlies missed star point guard Ja Morant. Porzingis is likely to return against the Nets, and Doncic has a chance of being back for the Memphis game, too. Morant, meanwhile, almost certainly won’t be playing tomorrow. Bottom line, if Dallas’ two stars are on the floor, this needs to be a revenge win.

Wednesday, 12/8: Stars at Golden Knights9:00 p.m., TNT

This is pretty straightforward. The Stars are riding a seven-game winning streak. Can they make it eight in a row, thereby setting a franchise record? They’ll have to do so on the road, where, as our David Castillo pointed out this morning, Dallas has been far less impressive than on home ice. They’ll also need to do it against a Vegas team that already holds a 3-2 overtime win against them this season. Another opportunity for a benchmark win for a team that has stacked up quite a few of them lately.

Sunday, 12/12: Cowboys’ front seven versus Washington Football Team’s Antonio Gibson12:00 p.m., FOX

The Football Team—seriously, get a new nickname, people—is quietly riding a four-game win streak into this one, and resurgent tailback Antonio Gibson is a major reason why. The second-year back out of Memphis has weathered injuries throughout the year but is averaging 107.5 scrimmage yards per game over the win streak compared to 60.2 in his previous five—likely a byproduct of extra rest after Washington’s bye week fell right between those stretches. A healthy Gibson is one of the league’s more exciting young talents, as the Cowboys know all too well after he cracked 100 yards in both games against them last year. But will his body continue to hold up? It will need to against a Dallas team that returns Randy Gregory and Neville Gallimore one week after getting DeMarcus Lawrence back against New Orleans. This is the closest we’ve seen the defensive line get to full strength in 2021. Now we’ll see what they can do with it.

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