With Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. on the shelf, Rick Carlisle opted to get funky and started J.J. Barea and Justin Jackson alongside Luka Doncic, Dorian Finney-Smith and Dwight Powell. The Mavericks started sluggish as the Nets raced out to a 13-3 lead, and Carlisle elected for more funk by subbing Doncic out with 6:30 left in the quarter. On the back of Barea’s seven points and two assists, Dallas was able to weather the storm until Doncic returned and ultimately took at 31-30 lead after one.
The second quarter started innocently with both teams trading buckets, and ultimately, the Mavericks stretching their lead to 48-41. However, that’s when the wheels fell of for Dallas. Brooklyn was able to gather two offensive rebounds which lead to two triples slicing the lead. Later, Doncic had a potential four-point play called off, and the Mavericks promptly turned it over. After several miscues and foul calls, the Nets were able to pop off a 17-2 run to take a 58-51 lead. The Mavericks were able to end the half on a high point with a Finney-Smith put back dunk, but the Nets still held a 65-60 lead going into the half.
Carlisle wasn’t done with the funkiness, starting Maxi Kleber in place of Dwight Powell in the third and it immediately paid dividends as Dallas jumped out to a 13-4 run. However, the Nets absorbed the blows and worked back into the game after Doncic picked up his fourth foul. And Brooklyn continued to wear away at the Dallas defense working their way into the paint and generating quality buckets on the break. After a Seth Curry scoring barrage, Dallas kept the game tied at 93 all going into the fourth.
The Mavericks’ bench played inspired ball to start the final quarter as Jalen Brunson and Boban Marjanovic combined to score 10 of the Mavericks first 13 points. But the quarter belonged to Doncic. With Dallas up five, 103-98, Doncic scored or assisted on 10 consecutive points to give the Mavericks some cushion. The team didn’t look back and took down the Nets, 123-111.
Here are some notes:
The bench was brilliant
With two starters out with injury, Carlisle tinkered and put Barea and Jackson into the starting lineup, largely leaving his stellar bench unit intact. It paid off in abundance as the Mavericks’ reserves poured in 62 points led by Curry’s 25 (9-13, 5-5 from three), Kleber’s 18 (6-7, 3-4 from three) and Marjanovic’s 10.
Curry and Kleber played instrumental roles at various points in the game, but specifically in the third quarter. When Carlisle let Kleber run with the starters after the break, he responded with eight points, three rebounds and three blocks before taking a break midway through. Curry finished the quarter with 10 consecutive points (15 total in the quarter) keeping the Mavericks in pace with the scrappy Nets.
Dallas also received timely contributions from Brunson and Marjanovic in the fourth as the two combined to score 10 of the Mavericks’ first 13 points. It was the first significant run for Brunson in the game, and he displayed true professionalism staying ready when his number was called.
Rebounding was a a concern
The Mavericks will always be an unorthodox rebounding team with an elite rebounding point guard, but tonight was slightly disheartening with Porzingis on the sidelines. Doncic led the way with 13 rebounds and Finney-Smith followed behind with 9, meaning Dallas’ two leading rebounders came from the point guard and forward position. Marjanovic grabbed seven off the bench, but most notably, Kleber and Powell collected only five rebounds combined.
The Mavericks allowed the Nets to gather 12 offensive rebounds leading to 19 second chance points (compared to the Mavericks’ 10). In particular, when Dallas looked to have a hold on the game, up 48-41 in the second quarter, Brooklyn responded with a 17-2 run sparked by a couple of offensive rebounds that resulted in two triples. Dallas ended up going down by 10 which was the largest deficit of the night. While Kleber and Powell don’t excel as rebounders, five combined boards simply won’t cut it. Dallas has to be better while Porzingis is out.
It was a strange start for Doncic, who looked largely out of sorts. Much of it could be contributed to lack of calls - he tends to mentally work his way out of the game when the refs swallow their whistles. But it seemed like Doncic struggled to find a rhythm with Barea starting alongside him. He still produced an all-around quarter and half, but something didn’t look right.
But Doncic saved his best for the fourth with the game tied at 93 all when he scorched the Nets for 15 points (5-7 from the field) with three rebounds and two assists. Carlisle noted post game that his minutes were becoming an issue, and his fourth quarters were being compromised which was the reason for the unique substitution pattern. It appeared to pay off as Doncic, the leading all-star vote getter, iced the game with timely step-back triples and clearly looked to have his legs as the game closed. He finished with 31 points (9-18, 5-8 from three), 13 rebounds and seven assists.
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.