The Dallas Mavericks lost to the Philadelphia 76ers 112-110 in Dallas Saturday night. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons each poured in 23 points. Simmons flirted with a triple double by adding 8 assists and 7 rebounds. Harrison Barnes led the Mavericks in defeat with 25 points.
The opening period started with a flurry of threes between both teams. The size of the Sixers starting line up was an early theme for Dallas, as their hot start from deep cooled as the Mavericks attempted to work their way into the lane. Five first quarter turnovers mucked up the Dallas offense as Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid showed flashes of potential super stardom. The Mavericks found themselves behind as much as 13 in the first before closing the gap to 32-23 to end the quarter.
A smaller, sleeker Maverick line up to open the second allowed Dallas to get back in the game in a hurry, with J.J. Barea and Dwight Powell wreaking havoc on pick and rolls. The Sixers slowed the comeback with an inside-out ball reversal starting with a post up to Embiid resulting in a three. Then Ben Simmons got all the way to the rim with a thunderous dunk. A Yogi Ferrell prayer three pointer (which bounced off the top of the back board) kept Dallas within range before Simmons picked up his third foul. Dallas, led by Wesley Matthews, slowly and surely chipped back into the game before briefly taking the lead and trailed 57-56 heading into half time.
The third period was drunk. Each team started on fire from three again. Despite the hot start, just like the first, the Mavericks cooled and the talent of the Sixers larger players wore the Mavericks down. Paired with some really terrible officiating, Dallas entered the final period down 89-78.
But the game wasn’t nearly finished. Back to back three balls from Dirk Nowitzki put Dallas within five points and caught the Sixers off guard. Through the drives of Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavericks came within a single point before giving up second chance looks allowed Philly to rapidly rebuild a nine point lead. Yogi Ferrell shot and made three free throws following an Embiid foul on a corner three which gave the Mavericks a spark of hope. Dennis Smith Jr. connected on a drive and Barnes hit a three to keep Dallas within five points. The game felt over with a minute left after Barnes turned the ball over on a bad pass towards Dirk who has an isolation on T.J. McConnell.
But McConnell turned it over on the very next play. Harrison Barnes then connected on a pull up three from a broken baseline play and Dallas was within two points again. Joel Embiid stretched the Sixers’ lead back to four points before Barnes once again connected from deep to cut the lead to one with 7 seconds remaining.
The Mavericks fouled Jerryd Bayless immediately and he missed the second of two free throw attempts. Yogi Ferrell grabbed the rebound and took it the length of the floor and was fouled on his shot attempt and 0.2 seconds on the clock. To that point Yogi had hit 25 of 26 free throws this season. He missed the first shot, which resulted in a miss on purpose with his second attempt. Dallas would not get a tip attempt and lost 112-110.
Size still matters
One thing Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban talks about is zigging while the league is zagging. The Sixers are doing just that. In a league committed to going smaller and smaller, the Philadelphia line ups are massive. What’s fascinating is that they’re still participating in the trend towards more and more three pointers, shooting 35 versus the Mavericks.
After the hot shooting start for Dallas, it was the Sixers’ size which mucked things up for Dallas offensively. Dennis Smith Jr. had probably never seen a lane that clogged by limbs this far in his NBA career. A number of the Mavericks turnovers came as a result of trying passes that simply are not there against that much length.
Opposing team offensive rebounding
In a game decided by two points, it’s absolutely crushing that the Mavericks gave up 11 offensive rebounds. There’s not much more to say, really, because unless Dallas changes some of its players or slows the pace to a crawl, teams are going to beat Dallas on the boards.
Nerlens Noel and the no show
Twenty minutes resulting in 4 points, 4 rebounds, and a pair of turnovers. All the pre-game quotes and laying an egg like that against is just brutal. Mavs Moneyball is a Nerlens friendly site, so hopefully this game will serve as a wake up call to Noel to stop worrying about the player he wants to be and focus on the player he actually is. Things like this remain concerning:
Rick Carlisle pulled Nerlens Noel. "You weren't running until I f------ yelled at you! C'mon!" Then sent him right back to scorer's table.— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) October 29, 2017
It’s perfectly fine that he’s not like Joel Embiid; if you watched that game you probably agree there’s quite possibly no one like Embiid in the NBA right now. Rim run, defend the rim, hedge on pick and rolls, move the ball on offense. Those are some of Noel’s strengths. He should play to them and let the contract situation play itself out.
Harrison Barnes is here to drive me, personally, crazy
Before the game I tweeted something to the effect of “through six games, Harrison Barnes has improved on every aspect of his game that I was critical of last year”. That specifically meant the lack of free throws followed by assists. What did he do against the Sixers? No free throws and no assists in 38 minutes played.
Of course, he also connected on seven threes and scored his season high in points. Prior to the Sixers game, his previous high this season for threes made was two, so this is probably an outlier. Still, it’s nice to see him willing to shoot them as he’s given them by the defense. I’d rather a three than the contested two he’s so fond of dribbling into.
Wesley Matthews, still alive
I’m just going to leave this here.
Those of you who get that reference will love it. Everyone else will think I’m an idiot. Well, most of you already think I’m an idiot. Anyway,
Wesley Matthews either needed a few games of being terrible to get it out of his system or he’s simplifying. After starting the season with lots of turnovers and no free throws, Matthews has gotten to the line at least four times in three of the last five contests. Matthews is showing himself to be much more valuable than early season nay sayers (like myself) were willing to admit.