In the first pre-season game of the 2019-20 season, the Dallas Mavericks elected to sit both Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis just hours before tip off. In doing so they managed to turn the interest level down to zero on a nationally televised game. Without their two stars, Dallas fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 119-104
Maxi Kleber and Justin Jackson each scored 14 to lead the Mavericks. Ryan Broekhoff, of all people, grabbed 10 rebounds for Dallas, including four offensive ones. Those stats so absurd that they deserve to be mentioned.
Overall, thirty different players scored in the game. There were also 54 fouls to go along with a half million commercial breaks. It was a game that did not want to end.
The Mavericks attempted to play some sort of basketball against the Thunder, but lacking their two best players and any real attempt at a normal rotation, Dallas gave up a ton of points in the opening half. Jalen Brunson joined Kleber and Jackson in scoring double figures to keep the good guys close. The Thunder led 66-62 at the half while shooting 66% from the floor.
Dallas started five guards in the second half, as Rick Carlisle looked to fulfill his wildest coaching dreams. The Mavericks ended up playing nearly the entire bench in the third in an effort to keep the Thunder honest. Dallas even tied the game at one point in the third. In the end, the difference was the Thunder playing more of their regular rotation players for longer. Combined with their hot shooting, Dallas was never able to muster much of a fight.
Justin Jackson presents a starting argument
If there’s actual basketball knowledge to glean from a pre-season contest, it can be found in Jackson’s performance. Realistically, the fifth starter on this particular Dallas squad is given the basic instructions of “play hard and don’t screw up." That’s harder to come by than one might think (and if you think I’m mistaken, go revisit the last three years of Maverick basketball).
That said, Jackson’s offensive performance was fun. He took efficient shots and didn’t make any glaring mistakes. Not much more one can ask, other than perhaps playing better defense. But that is more of a team problem judging by one contest.
The Mavericks set their own pre-season schedule
Prior to tip off, three sources confirmed to me that the Dallas Mavericks do, in fact, set their own pre-season schedule. Why on God’s green earth did they schedule a back-to-back?
This is yet another instance, though minor, that calls into question whether this team has all it’s ducks in a row. Most recently, we watched them botch the unveiling of the new Dirk Nowitzki court because someone forgot it was in the biggest selling basketball game on the planet. Then everyone in the organization had to play dumb until they were ready to introduce it over a month later. Prior to that, the front office was literally out to dinner as most of free agency went down.
Obviously, they know what they are doing. The Mavericks (and all NBA teams really) don’t care about pre-season, calling into question why they have the games at all. They probably scheduled a back to back to get the games out of the way but it’s maddening as all hell.
Josh Reaves played before Isaiah Roby
If this were a prop bet, I would’ve put my life savings on it. Does it mean anything? Probably not, but having watched Reaves in NBA Summer League, he’s a Rick Carlisle player through and through. A guard who plays extremely hard defense and doesn’t play outside himself on the offensive end. It was foretold.
Keep an eye on him this pre-season. There’s no room for him in the rotation, but it’s a long NBA season and he’s exactly the kind of player meant for a two-way contract.
Rick Carlisle takes some things entirely too seriously
The Mavericks have been fairly clear that Porzingis wouldn’t play back to backs in the regular season, so it tracks that he wouldn’t play them in pre-season. Yet pulling 21-year-old Luka Doncic just 90 minutes before tip off is the kind of petty chicanery that drives me crazy. Rick Carlisle would not answer Brad Townsend of the _Dallas Morning News_ when he asked about Doncic’s availability. Doncic was not allowed to confirm it either.
There’s no need for this kind of crap in a regular season game, let alone a pre-season game. Tell people who is starting. It’s not hard. Thank goodness the league is working on getting this kind of silly gamesmanship out of the game. It doesn’t help coaches anyway.
One last thing before you go... we’ll be podcasting right after a good number of games this season. We’ll try to keep it short, but if possible, go to your favorite podcast feed and subscribe to the Mavs Moneyball Podcast. Now, presenting MMB After Dark