Echoing through the halls of August Twitter, fans argue how good or bad their team will be this season. And typically each side uses a handful of games from the previous year as grounds for their perspective:
“Remember when the Mavericks got chased out of the arena against Phoenix on opening night?”
“But the Mavs beat the Warriors, IN Oakland...while they were “tanking”...by THIRTY-FIVE!”
This is Part Two of our look at unexpected games in the Mavericks 2019-20 season. We all know there are a handful of games each season a team should win, but lose, and games they should lose but win. They make you pull out your hair in awe or devastation. Games that make you wonder how good the team really is. Part One looked at Five Unexpected Losses. Now on to the wins!
Five Unexpected Wins
vs Portland Trail Blazers (10/27/2019)
The Mavericks know they need to get off to a hot start to kickoff the season. They will have two winnable games under their belt just before, and the Blazers will be eyeing a back-to-back finishing against the San Antonio Spurs the following night. Though the Blazers still have their star tandem of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, they let some core players walk and did some retooling. So there’s some mystery to what Portland brings.
This is the first time we see new-Maverick Delon Wright as defensive stopper against elite talent, and he gives some reason for optimism, while Seth Curry goes revenge game and hits three late three-pointers. The Mavericks pull off an excitingly close home victory, grabbing a little early season attention.
@ Houston Rockets (11/24/2019)
The Mavs split their matchups with the Rockets last season, stealing one in Houston before a signature Luka Doncic closeout in Dallas, all hail:
Dallas nearly stole their final battle of the season off a Jalen Brunson last second shot. All to say, the Mavericks had some exciting games against the Rockets last season.
Houston is a major storyline this offseason, and look likely to be a problem for every team this year. But on this Sunday afternoon tilt, the Mavs arrive ready. They’ll have played at home two nights before in what should be a scrimmage against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Luka and Kristaps Porzingis have sorted out their two-man game and become a headache for Houston head coach Mike D’Antoni, as they play Clint Capela off the floor, while new-Rocket Russell Westbrook has an off-afternoon still learning to play more off the ball. Mavs steal one in Houston and we all give thanks.
@ Golden State Warriors (12/28/2019)
The Dallas Mavericks schedule from December 16th to December 29th: @ Milwaukee, vs Boston, @ Philadelphia, @ Toronto, vs San Antonio, @ Golden State, @ Los Angeles (Lakers). I guess Santa decided someone in Dallas has not been nice.
But I’m going to tip toe out on to this limb and say they don’t go 0-7 in this stretch. Dr. James Naismith at least smiled down on the Mavericks and gave them no back-to-backs here, until those final two games. The Mavericks will knock off some Christmas rust in the San Antonio game on the 26th, and then be desperate for a win heading west. Why not against the Warriors? They split with them last season (yes that is a factual statement even if Steph Curry was out for both wins), I’m confused about what the Warriors will be until Klay Thompson returns, and wouldn’t it be fun to see Seth Curry play hero against his brother, forcing his parents to awkwardly cheer in their Warriors jerseys?
vs Philadelphia 76ers (01/11/2020)
In what feels like a broken record, here is the Mavericks schedule from January 8th to January 25th: vs Denver, vs Los Angeles (Lakers), vs Philadelphia, @ Golden State, @ Sacramento, vs Portland, vs Los Angeles (Clippers), @ Portland, @ Utah. Yes, just like you, I broke out into a sweat re-reading that.
Naismith brought down his mighty hand here and gave the Mavs a Lakers-Sixers back-to-back, followed by a Warriors-Kings back-to-back. It will be a cold winter. People that look at numbers would tell you that you shouldn’t put money down on winning the second night of a B2B...but what if I told you the first game becomes a blowout early enough that the Mavericks are fresh for the Sixers? Philly is opting to utilize Josh Richardson, three power forwards and Joel Embiid. *Cue Dodgeball gif about this being a bold strategy.
Who knows how the Mavericks match up against this team. But on this January night Luka Doncic puts on a show for the home crowd, takes over in the fourth, and gives people plenty of reasons to talk about him as a second year All-Star.
@ Denver Nuggets (04/13/2020)
The Mavericks’ final road test of the regular season takes them to the Mile High City. Yes, they lost all three to the Denver Nuggets last season. But remember this:
This is the first time I’ve noticed a dejected Jamal Murray from the head on angle, knowing the Nuggets had just made a huge mistake...even before Luka made his move. Brilliant. Now, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain yelling about what happens in that final five seconds. This is where the game ended in my memory.
The Nuggets got better this offseason, with an underrated trade for Jerami Grant. But a desperate Mavs squad still with an outside shot at the eighth spot in the playoffs comes to Denver on a mission. Jalen Brunson hits four first half threes, and Luka Doncic mirrors last season’s near heroics by jumping clear over Nikola Jokic and dunking with two seconds left, scoring his 39th and 40th points of the game.