For two quarters of basketball, the Mavericks looked like a playoff team with beautiful ball movement and stifling defense. For another two quarters, Dallas looked like they were trying to catch water with their hands. Such is life for a 8-21 ball club, but the Mavericks got it done in crunch time against the Blazers.
Dallas blitzed the Blazers in the first half by building a 25-point lead. J.J. Barea got into the game and caused the havoc that we’re accustomed to seeing. Unfortunately, he had to leave the game with Achilles soreness, which seems to be a virus for this team.
After nearly blowing the 25-point lead several times, Dallas pulled out the victory in a very tough environment. Wesley Matthews locked up Damian Lillard on the final possession to seal the win.
this Wes Matthews defense on the final possession was incredible pic.twitter.com/DHkFIZir4u— Tim Cato (@tim_cato) December 22, 2016
Prime Deron Williams made his bi-monthly appearance
Every full moon the Mavericks are treated to the Deron Williams that they were trying to sign in 2012. Williams controlled a blistering hot offense in the first half, while also getting his jumper going. D-Will finished with 23 points on 10-17 shooting and hit a couple crucial buckets in crunch time. Something about the Portland air rejuvenates Williams, because Deron lit up the Blazers during an overtime win in Portland last season.
D-Will has been great over the last five games and his steady hand is vital to a watchable Maverick offense. If he can hover around 15 points and eight assists, the offense should continue to hum.
Harrison Barnes looked like a star
I’m not sure if Barnes wore 40 or 41 tonight, because Barnes looked like the iconic seven footer for much of the evening. He put up 28 points on 10-22 shooting and hit big shots in the second half. Every single time Portland switched a guard onto Barnes, he ate their lunch. Harry is just too strong on the block for opposing guards and his impeccable footwork just overwhelms a diminutive defender.
For all his athletic gifts, Barnes struggles to get to the line. However against the Blazers, Harrison found ways to get to the line by pure determination. It’s a mind set that he must maintain to elevate his game to the next level. Barnes has a tendency to avoid contact at the rim, which causes him to take awkward angles to the basket. With his size and athletic ability, Harrison should be trying to put a dunk on the defender’s head nearly every time.
Three-point defense is optional
All season opposing teams have lit up the Mavericks from beyond the arc like an obnoxious Christmas tree. Portland continued that lovely trend during their comeback attempt with a bevy of unusual threes. Allen Crabbe had a three bounce each and every way around the rim; Al-Farouq Aminu carved out a rare, but crucial make in the fourth quarter; Lillard caused his usual reign of terror beyond the arc. All together, they shot 10 of 27 from beyond the arc with most of the damage coming in the second half. If the Mavericks want to win more games this season—they shouldn’t—the three-point defense needs a serious overhaul.