If the Dallas Mavericks can take care of the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday night the team has an opportunity to do something they haven’t done since the 2014-15 season by notching their 10th win of the season before Thanksgiving.
The Mavericks downed the Cavaliers in Cleveland the first time these teams met earlier this season as Luka Doncic’s 29/14/15 triple double pushed Dallas past Kevin Love’s 29 point outing.
Dallas has found a groove winning three straight after a dreadful loss to the New York Knicks. Here’s what to watch four as the team tries to string the streak to four.
Luka Doncic’s brilliance
We’re running out of superlatives to describe the 20-year-old superstar’s second season, so I’m not really sure where I’ll go with this. But we’ve gotten to the point where Doncic is must see TV, and he’s worth cancelling Friday night plans to watch him beat up on inferior opponents.
His most recent stroke of genius happened last game against the Warriors where he decimated an almost G-League team for a 35-point, hyper-efficient triple double in only 25 minutes of play. It will be tough to follow up Doncic’s first outing against the Cavaliers, but something tells me he’ll be up for the challenge.
I’ll admit I’ve yet to figure out the trend in Boban’s playing time, but he played 15 minutes in the first tilt against Cleveland, so there’s a pretty good chance we’ll get a healthy dose of Marjanovic again.
Cleveland simply doesn’t have the size to check Boban with Tristan Thompson being their tallest player at 6’9’’ and no real credible defender off the bench. Last time out, Boban posted 12 points and eight rebounds, and there’s a good chance he can collect solid numbers again. Boban’s pairing of sheer size and intelligence are a joy to watch. Defenders look hapless when he gathers the ball right at the rim, and his flat-footed dunks are almost as iconic as Dirk’s one-legged fade aways. Ok, I’m just joking about the last part.
Kristaps Porzingis getting more involved
Carlisle unveiled an interesting wrinkle Wednesday night using his 7’3’’ big man’s size and athleticism to generate an easy bucket:
The Mavs may have lifted this one from the Lakers' playbook. First time I've seen them run it. Should work just as well with Doncic/Porzingis as it does with LeBron/Davis. pic.twitter.com/q2Gh2xOqE3— Bobby Karalla (@bobbykaralla) November 21, 2019
The set doesn’t look revolutionary, but the key is forcing the defense to communicate and navigate the screen or switch altogether. In this particular instance, Porzingis gets all the way to the rim, but he could have easily risen into a jumper in the paint. The Mavericks ran this set a second time, and it led to a Porzingis dunk.
Over his last four games, Porzingis is averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds. While his shot is still inconsistent, he’s looked much more comfortable in the flow of the game and has been a tremendous asset rebounding the ball.
How to watch
The game tips at 7:30 CT and can be watched on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass.