“Balance” and “by-committee” are two of Rick Carlisle’s favourite terms when describing the key to this team’s success over the years. Today’s 98-87 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves was a great example of these ideas as the Mavericks had 6 players in double figures led by 19 points from Wes Matthews.
With Bogut out for the foreseeable future, Dallas inserted Seth Curry to join the regular starters. Whether it was good offense, bad defense, or a combination of both, neither team had much trouble scoring against the other. Karl Anthony Towns continued to showcase his immense talent converting points inside and out, Dallas too was clicking. Between Barnes attacking KAT off of the drive, Devin Harris aggressively looking for his shot, and the trademark Dirk fadeaway, Dallas finished the opening from up 27-25. The first quarter also featured a rare and random occurrence: the refs called a travel on Andrew Wiggins’ step-back attempt to end the quarter, so the Mavs were given the ball with 0.7 left for an unsuccessful half-court heave.
The second quarter opened with Devin Harris’ second and-1 of the game, this time through a rainbow floater on Cole Aldrich. The Dallas offense looked as good as it has all season as the Mavs went on a 21-4 run going back to the end of the first quarter, in large part due to their conscious effort to penetrate. Deron Williams, Devin Harris, and JJ Barea all took turns driving into the teeth of the defense and making reactive passes out to the open shooter. This gorgeous run (something that we haven’t seen much of this season) was capped off with a three pointer from a trailing Dirk. Unfortunately, between Gorgui Dieng who seems incapable of missing a shot against the Mavs, and Andrew Wiggins consistently rising over Matthews to knock down shots, Minnesota cut the lead to 9 at half.
Despite both Deron and Dirk hitting threes early on in the quarter, the Wolves went on a 11-2 run cutting in the Dallas lead. Worth noting are Salah Mejri’s 4 fouls within 2 minutes, including one on Rubio that was 92 feet from the basket, and Dieng scoring 9 in the quarter. D-Will also converted his second “pass-ket” of the year, attempting to throw an alley-oop pass to Powell but accidentally scoring. Also, WES MATTHEWS DUNKED. I know its a huge deal when Dirk does this, but I’d be willing to bet (someone look this up) that Matthews has less dunks than Dirk over the past 2 years.
The start of the fourth was Barea time as he scored Dallas first 9 points of the quarter before a three from Curry extended the Dallas lead to 15. The rest of the quarter was relatively uneventful as a combination of poor offensive execution from the Wolves and just enough shot making from the Mavs led to Dallas winning their 2nd straight game.
Devin Harris is the best player in the NBA averaging 5 points a game
Former NBA All Star Devin Harris looks as good and quick as he has in years. In his heyday, Harris was the probably the fastest NBA player end-to-end with an explosive first step that got him wherever he wanted on the floor. Multiple foot injuries later, he has slowed down considerably but I’ve long felt that he is capable of taking on more responsibility on the offensive end for this team. From his isolation blow-by on Shabazz Muhammad from the top of the key at the end of the first quarter, to his sharp and more frequent backdoor cuts, Harris looks great. Let’s hope that he has continued good health as the season progresses.
Dallas Executed Sharp Double Teams
Despite Harrison Barnes’ willingness to take on Karl Anthony Towns one on one on the defensive end, Dallas ran several doubles at KAT throughout the game. Although Dallas double teams usually lead to open looks for the other team due to poor rotations, and slow drops, today the team looked great in both disrupting KAT and taking away the immediate outlet pass. Of particular note was when Harris aggressively dropped down to trap Towns in the corner with Powell to force a travel with 1:37 left in the 3rd.
A Missed Opportunity: D-Will Turnover
An interesting play unfolded with 2:39 left in the 3rd quarter. Off of a Minnesota miss, Deron Williams got the ball, strategically dribbled in front of Towns, preventing him from sprinting back on defense, and with Towns picked off behind him jumped to pass to an open Barnes. Unfortunately, Barnes was not looking for the pass, leading to a a travelling violation on Williams. Despite the numerous parties at fault (Williams for jumping before making a pass, Barnes for failing to always be ready for a pass), this play offered an example of Deron’s intelligence as a point guard: he saw an opportunity to give a streaking Barnes an advantage by taking his primary defender out of the picture, took it, only to find Barnes unable to receive this gift of a possession that he had orchestrated on the spot. Williams shouldn’t have jumped, Barnes should’ve had his head up, and Dallas missed a golden opportunity for a beautiful xs and os moment.
Dirk is scoring again
Even though he was torched by Gorgui Dieng (again), it was great to see an engaged and effective Dirk out there. 17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 blocks, on 50% shooting from the field, and 75% from the three? Nowitzki looks as fluid and comfortable on the floor as he has all season. More please.
That is all.