First of all, we need to note that neither Jayson Tatum nor Jaylen Brown played tonight for Boston. So there’s that caveat. Even so, Dallas absolutely demolished Boston tonight en route to the Mavs’ 10th overall summer league win. Dallas remains undefeated this July.
This game started slow. “The score was 3-2 at the 6:30 mark of the 1st quarter” slow. Neither team wanted to make a shot. Fortunately, things picked up, and then Dallas took over for much of the first half. Other than an 8-0 run by Boston in the 1st, Dallas was firmly in control, led largely by Yogi Ferrell. The Mavs went into the half up by 14.
The dominance only grew in the second half. Dallas shot the ball particularly well, as the team averaged 50 percent from the field and 45 percent from three, on 33 attempts. The game sort of stalled as both teams emptied their benches midway through the fourth quarter, but Dallas cruised to a 17-point victory.
Tonight was all Yogi Ferrell
Yogi scored 14 in the first half, on 4 of 9 shooting. He was hitting threes, throwing down killer hesitation moves, and taking it to the rim at will. This move in particular was just stunning:
Yogi wasn’t done either. He started the third off hot as well, before taking a seat with the win well in hand. He finished the night with 20 points on 58 percent shooting, to go with 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and a steal.
The Summer Mavs can play defense
Dallas held Boston to just 32 points in the first half. They continued to hold them at 32 for the first couple of minutes in the third quarter, with 3 steals in 4 possessions. Brandon Ashley had a steal he took to the rim for a dunk. Nicholas Brussino had a steal that he turned into a silly missed layup. Then Dorian Finney-Smith had a strip that led to a gorgeous assist to Yogi, who stopped from a dead run and drilled a three in rhythm. Overall, there was a ton of good ball denial, great rotations, and just a phenomenal all-around effort on that end of the floor, at least until the bench was cleared midway through the fourth quarter.
Dennis Smith, Jr. was bad, but Nico Brussino had his back
DSJ shot only 1 for 6, for 3 points tonight. It was ... bad. There’s no other word for it. He missed 2 of 3 free throws. Oddly, his +/- stat (for what it’s worth) was still a positive 12. But this was definitely not the Dennis we’re used to seeing.
Fortunately, his teammates picked up the slack—Brussino in particular had himself a great night after an iffy start, scoring 18 points. He still had a couple of “wtf” moments, namely two missed layups that no 6’8” professional basketball player should miss. But he more than made up for it with some quality all around play. He shot a mind-boggling 63.6 percent from the field. The most surprising stat of the night is that Finney-Smith was hot on his tail in terms of field goal percentage. DFS, who apparently saved up all his good shooting for this one game, shot 60 percent tonight, including SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT from three. Both Brussino and Finney-Smith had been catching some flack from the twitter fans, so it was good to see them both put in a good performance tonight.
Ding the MVP?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about this.
Something odd happened midway through the second half. Ding Yangyuhang had a nice move for a layup that drew a foul, and as he moved to take his free throws, the crowd suddenly (and quite loudly) started the “MVP” chant. Jeff Van Gundy and his fellow commentator seemed quite befuddled by the chant. Later, in the fourth quarter, the crowd began chanting for Ding to be put back in the game. They then cheered every time the arena cameras showed Ding sitting on the bench. Shortly thereafter, coach gave the crowd what they wanted. Then it got weirder—the crowd literally booed every time a Mavs possession ended on something other than a Ding shot. Then they cheered loudly every time he touched the ball. It was nuts, and it continued with more or less the same amount of enthusiasm for the rest of the game.
I confess... I still don’t understand this phenomenon. Ding has been solid, but not spectacular, this summer league, and tonight was no different. He hit 3 of 5 shots for 11 points, got 1 rebound, and finished with a negative +/-. My only conclusion can be that there is a much higher overlap between Chinese Basketball Association fans and NBA Summer League fans than I could ever have imagined.
For so so many reasons, Summer League has been wildly fun this year, and the fun will continue at least one more game. Dallas advances again, and will face the winner of the Lakers-Nets game tonight in the semi-finals.