The Mavericks had a short week, only playing Wednesday and Friday after straight Saturday/Sunday last weekend. The Jazz became one of the best teams in the West, and the Mavericks landed big shots in the streak to win that game 103-100. The Raptors then came to town as one of the best teams in the East, and Dallas took advantage of Toronto’s shorthanded lineup, earning their third straight win, 111-110. Luka Doncic has become just the second player in history to score 30 goals in eight straight games to open a season, joining Wilt Chamberlain.
Team Rating: B
Although the Mavericks were 2-0 this week, the issues from last week are still there. Christian Wood was knocked out with 7:59 left in the fourth quarter against Toronto and did not return. Wood had 13 points and five rebounds in 23 minutes, and showed time and again he deserved a chance to minimize the stretch. The Mavericks chose to go with Maxi Kleber over him, likely due to the trust they’ve gained with him over the past few years.
Not only was that insane (because Kleber doesn’t have the same defensive looks), but it started to get dangerous to keep Christian Wood in the long run. Wood looked visibly upset when he was kicked out and did not rise with the caucus at the next timeout. Rightly, he did everything he could to prove that he should get at least more minutes, and probably a starting spot. If Dallas doesn’t back down from their stubborn attitude toward him, they could lose a key piece they acquired for next to nothing.
Dwight Powell returned to the starting lineup against the Raptors after playing great off the bench in previous games. It was another mistake, as the Mavericks gave up four offensive rebounds in the first six minutes. Powell does a lot of things well, but his shortcomings are magnified when he plays long minutes against other teams’ best players. Powell needs a bench role because anything more is going to hurt the team.
Luka Doncic has continued to post historic numbers as his MVP campaign continues. Crossfades, backsteps and now hook shots have all been deployed from his seemingly limitless offensive arsenal:
Straight A: Spencer Dinwiddie
Dinwiddie averaged a hair over 20 points and six assists last week, which is exactly what the Mavericks need him to be successful over long stretches. He made plays in both games, but most notably in the clutch against Utah where he had a layup to put Dallas up six with less than two minutes to go. Dinwiddie looks aggressive, creates for others and shot 42.3% from three, which is third on the team behind Christian Wood and Josh Green (players who have played in multiple games).
The Mavericks desperately need Dinwiddie to continue playing at this level alongside Doncic. The value of a player who can create for himself and others when Doncic literally doubles up will be the difference in deciding games. Dinwiddie played his role to perfection this week, so he gets a ton of credit.
Dismal failure: the Mavericks with a double-digit lead
As I sat in my seat Friday night and the Mavericks won 19 points in the third quarter, I turned to my brother and said, “Oh? We are up at 7 p.m.? I can’t wait to blow that lead.” Like clockwork, the Raptors hit a three almost in conjunction with the words “blow that lead.”
When the Mavericks go big, their offense stagnates and they sometimes lose interest in defense. In their seven clutch games, they’ve held a lead of ten or more on four occasions. It is curious to know why this happens. Part of it is too much “Luka ball”, part of it is practice, but a lot of it is effort and complacency. Playing to win is different from playing not to lose, and it seems that they play not to lose when they have a big lead. This needs to be fixed, especially because they seemed to be much better at managing a lead last season.
Additional Credit: The Friday Post-Match Presser
If you didn’t watch the Toronto game on Friday night, there were a lot of weird calls. At one point in the fourth quarter, there were three consecutive offensive fouls on Dallas. If it’s ever happened in NBA history, we’ve rarely seen it.
In the second quarter, Spencer Dinwiddie was called for a technical foul after being called for a transition foul, and revealed there had been a trade between one of the referees and another Maverick which prompted Dinwiddie to answer it the first thing after the game: