All in all, the season-opener was a disappointment for the Dallas Mavericks. Luka Doncic looked like he’s been eating Cheetos and playing video games all offseason. The defense didn’t look as advertised. And worst of all, they once again couldn’t closeout a close game.
There’s good news, though! Opening night proved the Mavs have some magicians on the team. That’s right.
We already knew Luka was magic. Everything he does with the ball is pure wizardry. I mean, look at this pass:
Luka. Ridiculous. Magic.#KiaTipOff20 on ESPN pic.twitter.com/xFroxbvYiz— NBA (@NBA) December 24, 2020
That’s the stuff of someone with superpowers. But now, we’re certain that more Mavs have some weird superpowers of their own.
We all know what I’m talking about right? When new Maverick Josh Richardson pulled up at the free-throw line for a standard jumper and all of the Mavs on the court combined their forces to demand that the ball go through the hoop?
The @dallasmavs WILL it in. #KiaTipOff20 on ESPN pic.twitter.com/DGQfgdJqRT— NBA (@NBA) December 24, 2020
This is one of the moments where when you watched it live, it felt like it took about three hours for that ball to fall through the hoop. While it was lingering on the rim, a few Mavs sent some positive vibes toward the ball — and maybe even a little more.
Let’s start with Richardson himself, the man who shot the weirdest ball of opening night. Richardson starts by jumping on the ground like a petulent child demanding he gets a different toy from his McDonalds Happy Meal. He does that twice before hopping into a defensive stance and slapping the floor as if to say, “You must go in now.” It worked — somehow.
Next, let’s go to who I’m assuming is the biggest wizard of them all, Dorian Finney-Smith. DFS had a meh game. He did some good things and some not-so-good things. His biggest contribution, though, came on this shot. As the ball is rolling around the rim endlessly, DFS takes a look at the rim and starts doing what any magician would do: foot fires. You know, the exercise all middle school basketball players have done.
The ball looks as though it might roll off the rim and land in Deandre Ayton’s hands until DFS starts doing his dance. There’s no way anyone will convince me this wasn’t magic. Dorian Finney-Smith knows it. Adam Silver knows it. I know it. We all know it. Expect more of this in the future.
The final magician that deserves some recognition is Tim Hardaway Jr. The camera doesn’t catch what Richardson is doing while the ball is rolling on the rim, but we can only assume it was something powerful. After the ball drops, Hardaway celebrates with a powerful, rallying fist bump. He definitely had something to do with that being a make instead of a miss. No one fist bumps that intensely if they weren’t involved directly in the outcome.
You might be wondering, why would the Mavs use their magic on a mid-range jumper in the third quarter when they’re down by three points? That’s a fair question — one that I don’t feel qualified to answer. I can only assume it’s because they had to try out their magic in a moment that feels relatively meaningless so they know how to use it in the future. This is just one of those situations where we have to trust the players.
So was it a loss? Yes. But sometimes you have to take a few losses to learn how your superpowers work (or something else seemingly inspirational).