Originally posted on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 1/5/12
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So far it's been smooth sailing for San Antonio Spurs rookie Kawhi Leonard but tonight he will face for the first time the Spurs' chief rival -- Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavs and Spurs have a storied history as these two teams have been in classic playoff series and heated regular season meetings. Tonight Kawhi will get his first taste of this rivalry.

Prior to tonight's matchup, Leonard shared his thoughts on the defending champs.

"A very good team, coming off a championship. Just got to play hard and just know what everybody does on Dallas and try to figure it out on the court and just get the job done. Come out with a victory."

And not only will it mark his first time facing the Mavs, it also marks his first time on the court playing against Dirk Nowitzki.

"He's a very good player and I look up to him as far as winning a championship and how hard he works just to get his skill level up to what it is now and he's just a great, all-around player. He can finish at the basket, shoot 15-feet, and the three-ball."

Although Leonard may not play the power-forward spot, it doesn't mean there won't be the possibility he won't defend the bigger Dirk in tonight's matchup when the Spurs use a smaller lineup. Which could prove advantageous for Leonard's development picking up a few things from Dirk.

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