The Dallas Mavericks finished the back end of their first back-to-back of the season with a win in Memphis over the Grizzlies, 138-122. Luka Doncic dominated the contest, scoring 24, grabbing 14 rebounds, and dishing eight assists in his short time on the court. Fellow sophomore Jaren Jackson Jr. showed why he was so valued heading into the 2018 draft, as he poured in 23 points in defeat.
Dallas opened the game with their seventh different starting line up in nine games this season. With Kristaps Porzingis out, Boban Marjanovic got the nod for the first time this year. In a truly wild turn of events, a little known player named Seth Curry poured in three straight threes to keep Dallas afloat as the Grizzlies cooked from beyond the arc early. Dallas once again looked ugly to open the game and couldn’t do much to bother the shot attempts from Memphis. Luka Doncic helped keep Dallas in it with 10 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. The Grizzlies led after one, 34-31.
The Maverick bench opened the game up for Dallas in the second, leading by as many as 14 points in the frame. Tim Hardaway Jr. turned into the Human Torch for a few minutes, connecting on threes, a floater, and even getting a rare four point play to count. Despite looking like they may run away with the game, Dallas let Memphis back in the game and only took a 68-62 lead into the half.
A Luka Doncic-Seth Curry pick and roll ran on multiple possessions in a row resulted in Dallas opening up a double digit lead in the third. Second year sensation Jaren Jackson Jr. wasn’t having it and tried to will Memphis to stay within single digits. Strong shot making from the entire Dallas roster kept the lead growing though and the Mavericks lead 104-91 heading into the final frame.
The strong bench effort from the Mavericks kept Luka Doncic on the bench. As a result, I stopped paying attention to the particulars, you’ll forgive me I know. The Mavericks kept the pressure on and scored a ton of points in the fourth. Dallas starts its’ three game road trip with a victory, winning 138-122 in Memphis.
Now, some stuff:
Playing Luka Doncic with a great shooter results in great offense
If you haven’t read Josh’s 1500 word lamentation on the baffling rotations from the Knicks game, get your read on and click here. If you have then you likely hoped for the Seth Curry-Luka Doncic offensive outpouring we just witnessed.
In the opening quarter, Curry buried three 3’s from various locations, all catches from Luka Doncic after he had run off a screen. It’s a bit of confirmation bias, but those were the exact same looks Tim Hardaway Jr. had against the Knicks that he clanged repeatedly.
The start to the third was a riot: Seth Curry set a screen on Luka’s man forcing a decision. If the defense went under, Doncic pulled up and connected on long threes, as he did twice. If the defense went over the screen, the defense switched, Luka passed to Curry, and the Mavericks scored either via Curry, or from a Marjanovic offensive rebound, resulting in free throws.
Dallas is excellent offensively. Instead of trying to split the difference and be mediocre at both, they should just try to score 130 points.
The bench press
All bench players but Ryan Broekhoff finished with double digit plus-minus. While defeating the Grizzlies without two rotation players is nothing to write home about, it was nice to see Jalen Brunson and Delon Wright play, play well, and hopefully regain some confidence.
Tim Hardaway Jr. continues having no conscience and against Memphis, it worked out. It’s not fun watching him play basketball just because he seems to result in a variety of “no no no YES” moments, but in fairness to him, his shot attempts from distance looked a lot better. I counted three catch and shoot opportunities where he wasn’t moving off of a screen. That sort of shot is one he CAN make.
Dwight Powell also had his best game, stuffing the box score with 11 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks, and two steals. He’s better playing back ups, in news shocking to no one, but it’s also just nice to see things go his way. I remain unconvinced he’s a starter against most teams but he’s good in the Maverick offense, so I hope this is a preview of things to come.
Justin Jackson might need to start. Or at least see consistent minutes. He’s shooting far too well from distance.
Three pointers are good for business
And winning. Speaking of shooting from distance, if Dallas connects on 43% of threes and they lose, then things have gone unspeakably wrong elsewhere. Curry hitting looks, Kleber connecting on three of five, Jackson and Hardaway destroying from downtown... that’s the best Dallas can hope for. It opens up those lanes to the basket for Doncic, Brunson, and Wright as well.
Porzingis is required
With Porzingis getting an expected night off, there were moments when it was simply so clear how valuable he is to Dallas on both ends. It’s one thing when Boban’s able to stonewall a defense. It’s great when Maxi Kleber looks like a top 20 defender. But when the bench has to go to Powell and expect him to guard Jonas Valanciunas, then it becomes clear just how little depth the Mavericks have from the big men positions.
I spoke about this on my podcast last night, but Porzingis matters. I’m critical of his play just because he may be the x-factor for Dallas in the race towards the playoffs the Mavericks hope to make.
Luka Doncic is a true MVP candidate
The box score is one thing: 24 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, and only two turnovers, while shooting a great percentage from the field. That’s all well and good and horrifying if I’m a Grizzlies fan.
Here’s the thing though, he played just 29 minutes. And he did all his damage in the first and third quarters as he didn’t compile a positive box score statistic in his five second half minutes. This is great to watch.
Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball” a bit further down the page, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.