The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Brooklyn Nets Friday evening, winning 96-92 in the opening game of NBA Summer League. Antonius Cleveland led Dallas with a strong all-around game, scoring 22, grabbing five rebounds, and dishing out two assists. Jarrett Allen was the high point man for the Nets with 19.
The first competitive basketball game for players wearing a Maverick jersey opened with some sloppy basketball. The Nets, featuring a roster including a number of their actual rotation players from the 2018-19 season, overwhelmed Dallas in the early minutes. The Mavericks committed a few turnovers while Nets players got the ball inside with ease. However, Dallas played suprisingly relentless defense in the first quarter (really, the entire half) and pushed hard off both makes and misses. Cameron Payne took the lead for Dallas in the final twenty seconds, scoring on two nifty drives to give Dallas a 23-20 lead.
In the second frame, Kostas Antetokounmpo took the ball at Allen often, dunking on an oop, hitting a spot up three, and driving to the basket. The Maverick lead slowly ticked up throughout the quarter, bolstered by an impressive series of plays from rookie Isaiah including a drive where he pivoted out into a mid-range fade-away and a drive where he left a pass for Cleveland. He also ended the half blocking the Nets final look; Dallas led 50-39 at the half.
The third started with a Payne run of a three and a layup and it felt like Dallas could start to run away with things. But as is common in Summer League, the bolder team on defense can make runs. The Nets pressed hard on Dallas pick and rolls resulting in a number of turnovers. Dallas didn’t help things with lackluster defensive effort and a number of ill-timed fouls. The Nets fought all the way back to tie and briefly take the lead. The Mavericks regained before quarter’s end and entered the final frame up 75-73.
Dallas outlasted repeated Brooklyn charges in the fourth, led primarily by their strong guard shot making from both Payne and Daryl Macon. Josh Reaves finally cracked the scoreboard, reading a cross court pass from the Nets and taking it back for a dunk. The Nets stayed within two to four points for the final few minutes, yet the Mavericks kept answering the call. A brilliant short corner jumper from Roby assisted by Payne effectively put the game out of reach. Dallas starts Las Vegas Summer League up 1-0.
Now, some things!
Roby’s ball handling skills were really impressive
The self described point forward showed how comfortable he is putting the ball on the floor against the Nets and their two NBA rotation bigs in Allen and Rodions Kurucs. Though his box score looks a bit pedestrian (10 points, four rebounds), Roby was very active all game against bigger and more physical defenders. As the NBA game evolves it becomes more and more important for all players to be able and have a willingness to put the ball on the floor. While we don’t really know what Roby’s NBA position is yet, he showed a number of interesting flashes against high level competition in his first Summer League game.hard
Guard play matters in Vegas
It’s really shocking that the Mavericks hung with and beat the Brooklyn Nets. By my estimation, the Nets brought five players with them who should see time next season in their rotation. The Mavericks, on the other hand, don’t have anyone on their summer roster who should see time.
And yet, they have a variety of ball handlers who know how to run an NBA offense, can hit shots, and are willing to drive to the rim. Macon, Payne, Cleveland, and even Reaves were more than willing to take the ball into the teeth of the defense. I don’t think any of these players are NBA players, but they’re good enough to play professionally and aren’t gunners. Dallas should be competitive in every game as a result and we’ll get to see players like Kostas and Roby benefit as a result.
Keep an eye on Yudai Baba
There is a spectacular amount of overseas media here for the three Asian players getting minutes at summer league. One of those, Yudai Baba, showed out very well in his 19 minutes, scoring five points and grabbing six rebounds. And he plays hard.
In one sequence, he dove for a steal and went out of bounds then ran back into play to catch a pass and connect on a three. Playing hard is a skill and that sort of effort makes the summer Mavericks worth tuning in for.
See y’all tomorrow night.