With the Dallas Mavericks and Philadelphia 76ers set to face off for the second time this year, stars abound - Dirk Nowitzki, Andrew Bynum, Jrue Holiday - are set to watch the game in suits. The burden for both sides will fall to players used to secondary roles: Evan Turner for Philadelphia, and O.J. Mayo for Dallas.
Mayo vs. Turner
Both starting 2-guards have stepped into new roles this season; after years of coming off the bench for Memphis, Mayo is starting for the first time and thriving with the minutes and freedom. Turner is starting for the first time in his young career as well, but has had mixed results.
Mayo is having far and away his most efficient season while playing more minutes than ever before. His true shooting percentage, effective field goal percentage, PER and even assist rate are all at career-best levels. With that, he’s been more valuable to the Mavs than he ever was in Memphis. He’s registered a 3.3 nERD and is contributing .125 win shares per 48 minutes. Mayo’s defense has been spotty, but that’s nothing new for him. His 108 defensive rating is actually slightly better than his career 110 mark.
Turner has picked up his shooting this season as well. Like Mayo, his TS% and eFG% are better than ever. Most surprisingly, Turner has been an effective three point shooter after being inept from long range in his first two seasons. ET has hit nearly half (14-30) of his corner threes, one of the most vital shots for a team’s offense, and is knocking down 46.3 percent of his three pointers on the year. Turner has also cut down on his already low turnover rate by nearly two percent from last season, despite increased ball-handling responsibilities.
Last time out
When the Mavs and Sixers met earlier this season, Turner got the better of his matchup with Mayo in the Sixers win. In their 32 minutes on the court together, ET held O.J. well below his shooting percentages and scoring numbers for the season, while scoring nearly four more points per 36 minutes while also getting to the line more than he does on a regular basis. Surprisingly, Mayo was able to out-rebound Turner, the Sixers’ second-leading rebounder and one of the best rebounding guards in the league, during their shared floor time. But to add insult to injury for Mayo, he missed two free throws (albeit one intentionally) in the waning seconds to hand Philadelphia the victory.