For fans of lots of offense and little defense, you turned on the right game as the Mavericks and Knicks duked it out for the final time this season. Neither team was able to take control of the lead in the first quarter, but the Knicks benefitted from shooting 67 percent for the quarter. Michael Beasley scored eight points off the bench and Tim Hardaway Jr. followed suit with eight of his own. The Mavs took advantage of the Knicks carelessness forcing six turnovers and scoring 10 points off those giveaways. Harrison Barnes paced the Mavs with 10, and Dennis Smith Jr. followed close behind with eight. The Knicks took a 31-29 lead after one.
Both teams continued to fill the bucket in the second quarter. Beasley continued to lead the charge for New York as he shot 9-10 for the half and scored a team high 19 points. Though the Knicks shot a blistering 63 percent for the half, the Mavs were able to stay close going 10-11 from the line while the Knicks only attempted three free throws. Barnes was aggressive in the first half, making all five of his free throw attempts to lead Dallas with 16 points. New York led at the half, 60-57.
The third quarter opened with a few Knicks’ buckets, but after that it was all Dallas. The Mavs eventually went on a 19-0 midway through the third, and ultimately outscored the Knicks 26-12 in the quarter. The Knicks looked like a team without it’s star, and the Mavs found a rhythm that propelled them to a double digit lead.
The Knicks were able to make the game interesting in the fourth, trimming the lead to single digits, but they never could quite get over the hump. The Mavs answered each New York run with a run of their own to keep the game out of reach. Barnes led the way with 30 points as the Mavericks took one in New York, 110-97.
The Knicks were extremely loose with the ball, and it was a big factor in the game. They turned it over 19 times which directly led to 32 Mavericks points. Kudos, to Dallas for capitalizing, but the Knicks were practically handing the ball over. They turned it over eight times alone in the third quarter and the Mavs rattled off a 19-0 run to take the lead for good.
A certain Mavs Moneyball staffer (Me) wrote that is was not likely Finney-Smith would see much run even though he was cleared to return. With Doug McDermott and Kyle Collinsworth manning the wing positions, there wasn’t much playing time for the second year wing. But then Matthews was shut down for the season, and suddenly 34 minutes per game opened up. Tonight, Finney-Smith drew the start, and he looked like the player Mavs fans remembered from last season. He only scored three points, but he grabbed nine rebounds (three offensive), was active on defense and seemed to be reading the floor well. Finney-Smith producing for the Mavericks in the final month of the season could be a big development.
Good job Mavs?
It doesn’t really matter what side of the tank argument you’re on, there’s no denying the Mavs desperately need talent, and the draft is the best way to acquire said talent. Unfortunately, the Mavs are squandering away the best opportunity to ensure they have the best odds to select the premium players. It’s not that puzzling. Players play to win, and coaches coach to win. There’s no switch that can be shut off to prevent competing. But somehow, every other lottery-bound team seems to be improving their odds, and the Mavs are not. By the end of the night, it’s likely that Chicago, Orlando, Phoenix, Brooklyn and Atlanta will all lose. I’ll let one of you faithful commenters post the lottery odds below because it frustrates me to no end knowing the Mavs were so close to top-three lottery odds for the majority of the season but will likely end up drafting in the 7-9 range. Sure, the Mavs will still get a solid player, but not a Luka Doncic or DeAndre Ayton. And yeah, it worked out for them with Dennis Smith Jr. last season, but only because he slid, and that draft class was unbelievably stacked. So, good job on getting win number 22 on the season, Mavericks.