A win! A dominating win! Over a quality team!
This 4th win of the season was definitely the best so far, and I hope everyone enjoyed it. Let’s talk about some stuff.
The Mavs ... held onto a lead?
The 2016-17 Dallas Mavericks do not dominate games. They do not often have leads and almost never maintain them.
Tonight though. Tonight the Mavs started strong and gradually built their lead further and further as the game went on. They led by 11 at the end of the first, 12 at the end of the second, and 16 at the end of the third. I honestly can’t remember the last time the Mavs had a third quarter like that. Then the Mavs said f*#k it, let’s do this thing and went ahead and pushed it even further, winning the game by 25.
And they did this against one of the (bafflingly) best teams in the East this season. Sure, you can argue that Wade was out and the Bulls were on a back-to-back. But Dirk and JJ are out, and Dallas is arguably the worst team in the NBA right now. So let’s not pretend like this game wasn’t awesome and huge and A Thing.
Harrison Barnes, star of the Mavs
Barnes is having a hell of a season. We all know this. But I was particularly impressed with this game. One of the things that really stood out to me is just how crafty he is around the paint. His iso game has been discussed ad nauseum this season, but he’s just as good off the pass, dribbling into the paint, and when getting offensive boards. He is really starting to develop some quality moves within 10 feet of the basket or so. There was one play early in the 2nd quarter where Barnes took a few steps laterally into the paint, then popped up for an insane fadeaway jumper off of the wrong foot and absolutely drilled it. The man is really stepping up his game.
Wes kinda stole his thunder as the game went along (more on that later), but Barnes really looks nothing like the shell of himself we were all worried about in the preseason. He looks like someone who can carry a team on his back—at least, a bad-to-mediocre team like this one. Whether he can carry the Mavs back to the success we’re all used to remains to be seen, but I have zero complaints right now. Dude is ballin.
Yes, he disappeared in the 2nd half. Yes, that’s a little worrisome. But honestly, the game was never in danger and other players were having great nights too. I won’t hold a 4-point half against him too much, given the context.
Dorian Finney-Smith is looking like a diamond in the rough
Cue the Aladdin music. Dorian Finney-Smith, the unheralded 15th man undrafted free agent rookie, seems to be taking a firm grasp of the starting small forward position on this team (with Dirk out at least). He played 30+ minutes tonight, scored 11 points on 60% shooting, with 2 rebounds and 2 assists while playing quality defense.
Finney-Smith had a plus/minus of 25, third highest on the team tonight, behind Barnes and Williams. (D-Will had a quietly quality game tonight, with a season-high FIFTEEN assists.)
The kid looks like an NBA player. Looking forward to seeing more from him, even if it means less and less Justin Anderson.
Wesley Matthews is finding his stroke
Wes had a hell of an all-around game tonight, but let’s start by drooling over his shooting numbers. 26 points on 53% shooting. 7 of 11 from three. That’s a season high on made 3s, and the 3rd time in 4 games that Matthews has hit 5+ 3s in a game.
But like I said, his performance tonight was way more than just shooting. He had 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals and kept Jimmy Butler from going off too much.
If this is the new normal, I think we can stop worrying about his ability to come back from that Achilles injury. He looks healthy, happy, confident, and in control. And I am loving it. #TeamWes
I told you that Dwight Powell would be good
Yes it was just one game. Now shut up and let me have my fun.
Dwight Powell put on quite a show tonight. He had a career-high 17 points. This was largely due to some major chemistry with the Dallas guards tonight, with lob after lob after lob. I lost count of the dunks Powell threw down in this game, but there were at least three off lobs and two more excellent put-back dunks.
Interestingly, he played most of the game at center, keeping Salah Mejri on the bench for almost the entire game. I still don’t know that he’s ever going to be an effective post or rim defender, but he mostly made up for it tonight with quality offense, quality rebounding (he had 8 boards), and effective hustle. He’s always been known as a hustle/effort guy, but a lot of times it feels like ineffective, unhelpful flailing. Tonight, Powell played with purpose and looked like a legitimate rotation player.
Everyone enjoy this win. It’s been a rough season so far, and we all deserved a game like this.