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Sixers-Mavericks Preview: The Return

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After tonight's game versus the Dallas Mavericks, the Philadelphia 76ers figure to have one more loss than they did at the start of the day. But at least Michael Carter-Williams is back.

The Return 2.0. Wait... that's already been used. Anyway, MCW is back. Rejoice.
The Return 2.0. Wait... that's already been used. Anyway, MCW is back. Rejoice.
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

At some point during the Toronto Raptors' 120-88 pummeling of the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday, a few members of the Liberty Ballers' staff wasted a fair amount of brain cells trying to come up with the Drake song that best described the game.

(Note: The exercise was inspired by the fact that "Raptors' global ambassador" Tobias Funke Drake was sitting courtside. And as proof that some of us should be employed by the Sixers, the team actually used "Hold On, We're Going Home" as the text for their postgame tweet. Dear Joshua Harris: Do you want our resumes in PDF format, or will Microsoft Word suffice?)

Halftime Hangout creator Sohil Doshi won the gold star, suggesting that the chorus to "Over" was the most fitting musical accompaniment for the night's events. Coincidentally, it could have also served as Tony Wroten's theme song for the first seven games of the season:

I know way too many people here right now that I didn't know last year
Who the f--- are y'all?
I swear it feels like the last few nights we've been everywhere and back
But I just can't remember it all
What am I doing, what am I doing?
Oh yeah thats right, I'm doing me, I'm doing me
I'm living life right now, man
And this what I'ma do 'til it's over
'Til it's over, it's far from over

Sadly, the party appears to be over for our favorite high-scoring, highly erratic combo guard. Sure... he'll Euro step his way into our hearts every now and again thanks to plays like this, but with Michael Carter-Williams back in the fold, Wroten's ridiculous 32.6 usage rate will soon be a thing of the past.

And let's not bury the lede: The real story heading into tonight's matchup against the Dallas Mavericks is that MCW and Nerlens Noel will be on the court simultaneously (in a game that matters) for the first time as professionals. It's been four years since the former AAU teammates last played with one another, and we'll finally get to see the crown jewels of the Sixers' 2013 draft class - sorry, Nate Wolters - paired together on something that isn't a Together We Build billboard.

Whether or not both players will start against the Mavs is still in question: Yesterday, head coach Brett Brown was non-committal in regards to Carter-Williams's role tonight. Meanwhile, Noel is coming off of an injury of his own (sprained left ankle), but all signs point to him getting the nod at PF.

The 76ers have their work cut out for them against Dallas - a team they haven't beaten on the road since the 2004-2005 season. Noel will be tested early and often by Dirk Nowitzki, who just passed Hakeem Olajuwon for 9th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. As of Wednesday evening, the Mavericks are 3rd in the league in scoring (105.1 PPG), while the Sixers are third-worst in the NBA when it comes to points allowed (106.1 PPG). Can K.J. McDaniels guard all five positions at the same time, or nah?

Despite the addition of Chandler Parsons, the Mavericks are just a tick above the league average when it comes to three-point shooting (35.4 percent), so maybe... just maybe, the Sixers' horrendous perimeter defense won't be their downfall tonight (opponents are shooting 39.9 percent from beyond the arc this season).

Tonight is the first game of the Texas Triangle for the Sixers: The Houston Rockets are on the docket tomorrow night, and the three-game road trip mercifully comes to a close Monday against the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.

Quite frankly, the Sixers figure to go 0 for the road trip, but we should learn a couple of things over the few days. Can Carter-Williams and Noel develop some semblance of a two-man game? What will Tony Wroten's role be going forward? Will Brett Brown finally relent and start K.J. McDaniels? And, perhaps most importantly: When will the losing streak end?