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Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) (picture from February 2020) is one of the players that would be returning from another country when players are called back (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Preview: Miami Heat Host Luka Doncic and the Mavs

The Miami Heat (36-22) and Dallas Mavericks (36-23) will play for the second time this year on Friday night. Their first contest in December went to overtime, where the Heat came out on top, winning 122-118.

However, the Heat have been slumping through the month of February, and especially recently. They’ve lost four of their last five, marked by back-to-back losses to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers.

February Struggles

At the start of the month, the Miami Heat were at the top of their game, boasting a 32-15 record. As the All-Star Break has come and gone, though, they’ve fallen prey to injuries and weak defense in recent games hasn’t helped. Without rookie Tyler Herro and forward Meyers Leonard, the Heat have lost some of their depth.

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) drives to the basket against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie (20) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Not only that, but they’ve been struggling to defend some of the worst teams in the league. In two games against the Cavaliers and a game with the Timberwolves, they’ve given up an average of 119.3 points per game. Neither of these teams has over 20 wins and both are near the bottom of their respective divisions.

That statistic, by the way, doesn’t include the game in which they gave up 129 to the Eastern-Conference-worst Atlanta Hawks and allowed Trae Young to go off for 50.

The addition of Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder hasn’t seemed to help all too much either. In Iggy’s seven appearances with the team, the veteran is averaging 4.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists in 20.3 minutes.

Needless to say, Friday’s night match up with the Mavericks offers the Heat a chance to right the ship.

The Matchup(s)

The last time these two teams played actually offers a closer study at some of Miami’s problems. After leading 73-50 at halftime, the Heat couldn’t close the door and almost ended up paying for it. The Mavericks outscored them 62-39 in the second half to force overtime, but eventually came up short.

Doncic missed a majority of the game, though, after leaving in the first quarter with an injury. Tim Hardaway and Kristaps Porzingis ended up carrying the load for the Mavs, but couldn’t finish out the comeback.

The Heat might not have to deal with Doncic again, though, as the young star was listed as questionable for the game. He hurt his thumb in a game against the San Antonio Spurs, but returned shortly thereafter. Not only that, he returned and put up a triple-double. The Mavs listed the injury as a left thumb sprain. Doncic will be celebrating his 21st birthday on Friday, after a meteoric rise to dominance in his first two seasons.

While the Heat have struggled in recent games, the Mavericks have been playing some of their best ball. They’ve won four of their last five, but its worthy of noting all four of those wins came against teams with losing records.

Tip off is set for 8 p.m. ET.

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