There's a pretty good chance that O.J. Mayo woke up this morning not in the best of moods.
Not only were the Dallas Mavericks dominated by the defending champion Miami Heat on Thursday night, but the star shooting guard had perhaps his worst individual performance of the year, scoring eight points on a dismal 3-of-14.
To add fuel to the fire, the Mavs are playing a back-to-back. But for Mayo, this isn't your ordinary back-to-back.
Dallas travels to Memphis tonight to take on the team that drafted Mayo four years ago, the Memphis Grizzlies, in a game that's more of a role reversal from years past.
The Mavs come into Friday two games under .500, which in terms seems pretty good without Dirk Nowitzki in the fold. Yet Memphis, however, is leading the Southwest Division at 17-6.
Both teams with something to fight for, both teams have statements to make. But if we're looking for a statement game from Mayo—the game that Dallas is looking for from him—what better time to have that game than against the team that drafted you?
Mayo, as many other players would, tried to play this off as "just another game on the schedule," but even he acknowledge late Thursday night that it's more than that: It's a division rival, and the team that didn't want anything to do with him, basically.
Via ESPN Dallas' Tim McMahon:
"Going back to a former team that you had some mishaps between the two parties, that's the way it goes," Mayo said. "You obviously want to go back and kick their butts. They want to kick your butt to show that you're not needed, whatever the case may be."
So, that's how it is. And little does Memphis know that Mayo has become the potential All-Star that the Grizzlies never had out of him. It's no coincidence that he's averaged over 20 points a game this year.
Sure, he's going to have his hiccups along the way; such was against the Heat. Mayo has never been in this prominent of a role in his career, on a team that's not even really his. The load will come off his shoulders once the Big German returns, which Nowitzki hopes is before the end of the year.
But if this is the game where fans get to see that killer instinct of Mayo, then why shouldn't he score at least 30 points and have at least five rebounds and five assists? Because that's what to be expected.
No doubt, he has to be sour about how the whole Memphis situation played out. But even on a back-to-back, expect Juice to go off.
Not only could he make a huge statement, but so can Dallas.
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