Facing off for the second time in less than a week, the result is the same; the Dallas Mavericks defeat the Portland Trailblazers. The Mavs do have something they didn’t have in the first match up, however, and that’s a 20-year-old All Star starter. The news was made official before tip off and Luka will become the Mavericks’ third starter in team history.
Doncic supplied his usual haul of points with 27, even though his shot wasn’t falling from outside, shooting just 2/10. It was a game where Dallas got shooting from everywhere, but in-particular, it was promising to see Kristaps Porzingis shake off the rust accumulated from a stretch of 10 missed games. He finished with 20 points on 6/11 shooting in his 25 minutes.
In his first game for Portland, Trevor Ariza did Trevor Ariza things. The vet scored an efficient 21 points, but, as always, the Trailblazers live and die through Damian Lillard. He did not disappoint, scoring an eye-popping 47, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a team 3 point onslaught from the Mavericks.
After a disappointing showing from behind the arc against the Clipper ( Dallas shot just 28% in that game), they blew the doors off of the Moda center in the first quarter. They took 16 threes in the first quarter and hit ten en route to a a 45 point quarter.
It’s the fifth time this season Dallas has started the game with at least 40 points, which perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise for a team leading the league in offensive efficiency wide a healthy margin. The shooting would stay hot from deep as Dallas would finish the game by hitting 22-47 for 46.8% ... and that’s with Luka shooting 2-11 from three.
Porzingis at the 5
So far this season, Kristaps Porzingis has seen much of his time on the floor accompanied by another big — typically Dwight Powell. Now, with Powell out, obviously that was going to change. Rather than simply slot Maxi in to the Powell-shaped hole in the starting lineup, the Mavs went smaller, opting instead to promote Seth Curry.
The offensive boost was immediately evident in the first quarter as seven different Dallas players hit a 3 point shot in the opening frame. Swapping in a pure shooter like Curry for Powell opened up the spacing even more than was previously thought possible for the NBA’s most efficient offense. Playing a true five-out offense with five shooters who demanded at least some level of defensive respect not only saw the threes raining in, the driving lanes for Doncic were free and clear, letting him attack his defender at will.
Free throws aren’t free
It seems petty to even mention in a game where the team scored 133 points, shot 51% from the field and 46% from deep, but... what is going on at the charity stripe? The Mavericks shot just 15-24 from the line, 62.5 percent, which seems bizarre as they were on fire from most other spots on the court.
Missed three throws, particularly late in games has led to a little more butt-clenching than would otherwise be necessary, and for a team with post-season aspirations, is going to need to get straightened out ASAP.
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