Let’s just get to the good stuff since it’s late and I’m cranky.
DAT DONCIC DOE
Luka was having a very pedestrian fourth quarter as the Mavericks coughed up a lead and then he just forcefully shoved a basketball down the city of Denver’s throat:
The Mavericks are spiraling down the standings, but Luka really wants to win these games and it’s very obvious. It sucks that his free throw yips came up one last time, which allowed Denver to walk if off on a Jokic shot at the buzzer on the next play. Ugh.
The Mavericks offense was cooking, until they farted and fell down
After a couple of bleh offensive performances over the last week, the Mavericks really busted out against the Nuggets. The ball wasn’t sticking, Doncic was picking out shooters in the corners and the rest of the Mavericks around him were making good use of the space he was providing them.
Denver really didn’t want Doncic to beat him and threw multiple defenders at him when he got a step — that left guys like Jalen Brunson and Tim Hardaway Jr. room to cook. Brunson was great again with another 20+ point night and Hardaway actually made some shots!
Everything seemed in sync all night. Doncic would drive hard, draw a double, pass out to the perimeter and then just one or two passes later the Mavericks were getting open looks at the rim or behind the arc. Dallas was 12-of-37 from three but slumped considerably in the fourth. They had five players in double figures, which feels like it hasn’t happened in months.
The pristine offense didn’t last, as the Mavericks clogged things up in fourth quarter as the Nuggets turned up the pressure. Still though, it was encouraging for most of the night, on the road in a tough environment against a good team.
A sweet game from Dirk Nowitzki, who had nine points on three 3-pointers. He looked very comfortable and made a three in the third quarter that helped push the Mavericks to a decent lead before things got tight in the fourth. Momentum swinging Dirk threes still make me feel things.
Dirk didn’t play in the fourth (still got a technical on the bench though) so he’s now just 17 points away from Wilt Chamberlin on the all-time scoring list. With two home games up next there’s a decent chance Dirk gets to do this in Dallas.
Mavs need more from Dorian Finney-Smith
I love Finney-Smith’s game, his demeanor and his tenacity on defense. He’s probably the best offensive rebounder on the team and while you wouldn’t confuse him for a playmaker, he’s great at keeping the ball moving.
If only he could hit some threes. Finney-Smith showed some promise early on, making threes at an above average clip but he’s been in a serious funk lately. He’s shooting 22.6 percent from three since the All-Star break and went 0-for-3 from deep tonight. Here’s his monthly percentages from three starting in December:
December: 30.3 percent
January: 32.6 percent
February: 25 percent
March: 28.6 percent.
That’s just not good enough. It’ll be really interesting to see how much the Mavs pay Finney-Smith this summer, because the league is littered with no-3-and-D wings — Dallas desperately needs shooters to surround those tasty Luka and Kristaps Porzingis pick and rolls.