This entire recap was written and done and just needed the final stats and the Mavericks, the weirdest team in the league, decided to keep being super weird.
I wrote how the Mavs, a bad team that never has bad losses, finally gave way to a solid Denver Nuggets team. Of course as soon as I finished typing, the Mavs Mav’d all over the place. This team refuses to be blown out. We’ll all be vaporized in the year 2723 yet Dirk Nowitzki and Rick Carlisle’s brains infused into robot bodies will still be finding ways to keep games close.
Dallas started the game well, leading by six in the opening minutes of the game, but Denver took control when they realized that just about every player in their rotation was a much better player than their Mavericks counterpart.
Nikola Jokic was dominant and all the Nuggets perimeter players showed off against the Mavericks smaller perimeter rotation. Some hot shooting from the Mavs got things a little closer in the fourth and thanks to a signiture-game from Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavs actually got things down to four points with under two minutes left. The Mavs could never get over the hump late thanks to a bad turnover and some bad-late game execution with fouling plus referees blowing the most obvious foul call in some time.
Here are some things:
Thank god Dennis Smith Jr. is here
The Mavericks are not only bad, they’re boring. That’s what happens when you have a bottom-five team in the league that sports five players over 30 in the regular rotation and most of your “young” and inexperienced players are closer to 28 than 20.
So Smith is a breath of fresh air. He’s dynamic, he’s young, he’s mega-talented. Despite his triple-double earlier this year, this felt like Smith’s signature game as a pro. He finished with 25 points, five assists, four turnovers but shot 11-of-18 from the field and only took one three-pointer (that he missed).
Smith got to the rim at will against a fairly long and big Nuggets roster. While they lack a true rim protector, they have a gaggle of guards and forwards with the length and athleticism to bother opposing guards. Smith had none of it. He almost single-handily won the game in the fourth, slashing to the hoop with speed and violence.
This was a great preview of what a peak-Dennis could be, terrorizing the Nuggets pick and roll coverage and punishing them in transition. Smith played Jokic on a string in the pick and roll throughout the first half and at the end of the game. He basically made Jokic look like present-day Dirk in the pick and roll, popping for mid-range jumpers when Jokic crept back into the paint and blowing by him if he dared challenge him up top.
Let’s just watch this on repeat till we all die.
Nikola Jokic is super good and the Mavericks are searching for theirs
Regardless of what you think about just how good the Nuggets talented big man is, there’s no denying he has it — that quality of talent and play that just by simply standing on the floor raises the games of all their teammates play.
Jokic was crazy good Tuesday night, roasting the Mavs for 29 points, 18 rebounds and seven assists. He overwhelmed whatever big the Mavs threw at him, whether it was the slowness of Dirk, the inexperience of Maxi Kleber, the jumpiness of Salah Mejri or the wacky, flailing, inflatable, arm-flailing tube-man-ness of Dwight Powell.
Dallas is still searching for their Jokic, a player good enough to possibly be the guy and at the very least someone you can build around and be the centerpiece of a playoff team. Perhaps that’s Smith.
*fans self off*
It’s really tiring watching the Mavericks play a different game from the rest of the league
This isn’t meant in the style the Mavs play, because they’re one of the more modern teams in the league. They shoot a lot of threes, they don’t take a ton of mid-rangers and they do their best to spread out teams with just one big man and four perimeter players.
The thing that I’ve been and most of the staff has been harping on for years is that while the Mavericks style of play is modern, their roster is most definitely not. Dallas’ troubling wing rotation just bites them in the ass every night and it’s frustrating to see team after team throw out versatile 6’4 to 6’8 players while the Mavericks play three short point guards. J.J Barea being out alleviated that a bit, but once again Dallas was crushed in the paint and on the boards.
Denver out-rebounded Dallas 47-35. Powell led the Mavs with six rebounds and only one other Mav, Barnes, had at least five rebounds. Kleber had two in 17 minutes. Dirk had three in 22. The Nuggets had 58 points in the paint, the Mavericks had 42 (that stat was a lot worse for the Mavs before Smith exploded late). Dallas needs a wing and a big in the worst way and hopefully some of that can be rectified in the off-season.