The Dallas Mavericks closed out their homestand with a much needed win over the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday night, 109-91. Luka Doncic and Dwight Powell each scored 19 in victory for Dallas. Tobias Harris scored 20 for the 76ers in defeat.
The Mavericks turned the ball over eight times and gave up nine offensive rebounds. The 76ers, however, couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn and hit only 10 of 31 from the floor. An ugly quarter for both teams produced just a two point Sixer lead after 12 minutes, with Dallas trailing 20-22.
Ugliness continued into the second frame, just less of it. Dallas turned the ball over less and gave up fewer turnovers, but the 76ers shot the ball a little bit better and Dallas didn’t. After another ugly quarter, Philadelphia led at the half, 50-41.
The Dallas defense came alive for the first time in a Willenium in the third quarter and the Mavericks turned that defense into offense. Led by Luka Doncic’s whirlwind passing, Dallas chipped away at the 76er lead and turned a nine point deficiet into a seven point lead. Maverick fans got to see enjoyable basketball for the first time and Dallas led 73-66 after three quarters.
Things just worked out for Dallas in ways they haven’t in recent games in the fourth. The Sixers opted to trap Doncic in the fourth, resulting in a number of wide open Maverick which Dallas connected on. A seven point lead doubled, then nearly tripled with minutes remaining. Both teams cleared the benches and eventually Dallas walked away with a 109-91 victory.
The... Dwight... Powell.. game?
There’s plenty of evidence on my social media feeds from the past several years: I don’t get and may never get the Powell thing. And yet, how the heck does one ignore his 19 points and 12 rebounds? There are many games where he appears a saloon door on defense and yet when the second half charge started, there he was mixing it up. Sometimes rebounds just come to you as a player and this was very much that, but it also was an example of the argument that his willingness to try things on offense (drive, pass, shoot) keeps a defense honest. I promise Al Horford was baffled that Powell repeatedly drove at him in the second half. Granted, I was too, but one must give credit where it’s due. Powell was imperative in a victory tonight.
It drives most fans nuts that Boban Marjanovic isn’t in the regular rotation but I tend to prefer Dallas coach Rick Carlisle’s use of him, as it keeps opposing teams off balance. The 76ers likely assumed Boban would play, given the depth concerns for Dallas but I seriusly doubt they had concerns about his scoring.
And yet it was his scoring which made a huge difference in a game which was tightly contested through at least three quarters. His end of shot clock makes broke the backs of a struggling Sixer defense and his second straight game with a three gave the Maverick bench some joy during a homestand mostly devoid of any fun.
We should collectively take a breath
Going 3-3 on a six game home stretch isn’t what you want to see. But when glancing at the standings and looking at NBA history, the ugly little truth is that the Mavericks could go .500 over the next 43 games and they make the playoffs. Seriously.
We want more from a squad which has shown itself capable of detonating on really good competition. But it’s a long season and you want to peak at the right time. The Mavericks are weathing a rough stretch! It should get better
Here’s the postgame podcast, Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you can’t see the embed below “More from Mavs Moneyball”, click here. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe by searching “Mavs Moneyball podcast” into your favorite podcast app.