The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Atlanta Hawks at home Saturday night, 123-100. Jalen Brunson led Dallas with 27 points, four rebounds, and eight assists. John Collins led the Hawks in defeat with 26 points and 11 rebounds.
An ugly start for Dallas didn’t bode well for a team missing three of their opening night starters, as the Mavericks fell behind 7-0 and trailed by as many as 10 in the frame. But, with Atlanta dressing only nine players and their team being very bad, the Mavericks climbed back in the game in a hurry. Bad Atlanta defense and excellent Dallas shot making resulted in the Mavericks running away with the frame and taking a 36-26 lead after one.
The Mavericks continued the effort in the second quarter, led by a red-hot Jalen Brunson. Dallas led by as many as 16 and scored 50 points by the halfway mark. The offense slowed momentarily and Atlanta made a late run and tried to close the gap to single digits. Atlanta actually cut the lead to 10 with 1:11 remaining, but Dorian Finney-Smith hit a Luka Doncic-like step back jumper with 2 seconds remaining to Dallas a 62-49 lead at the half.
Dallas continued apace in the third quarter, opening with back-to-back Maxi Kleber threes. The floodgates stayed open and the Mavericks poured it on at both ends. Trae Young saw numerous double teams, discombobulated their short-handed roster. A preposterous three point barrage for the Mavericks throughout the frame grew the lead past 20 where it stayed for most of the period. Trae Young existed the contest and went back to the Hawks locker room late in the quarter. The Mavericks took a 97-72 lead into the final frame.
Atlanta scored six straight to open the fourth quarter, building a 10-0 run which started at the end of the third. Dallas answered with a pair of threes to stifle the run. The Mavericks held Atlanta at bay and ended with a 123-100 win. Hey, look at that, the Mavericks win at home!
Now, some things:
A game of milestones
This victory marks Rick Carlisle’s 500th win as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks. It’s his 781st over all. This was also the 30th win for the Mavericks this season. That’s notable compared to previous seasons:
Win 30 in the past three seasons— Kirk Your Enthusiasm (@KirkSeriousFace) February 2, 2020
-'16-'17 - March 23rd, 2017
-'17-'18 - N/A (27 wins)
-'18-'19 - April 1st, 2019
This season the Mavericks are winning their 30th game on February 1st, 2020.
Progress folks. The Mavericks are in a very good spot, despite how might feel sometimes.
Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith are so important
In a league that’s very win-dependent on space, shooting, and rim defense, having Maxi Kleber is an absurd luxury that’s proven himself among the best values in the NBA. This game was a steller reminder of how important Maxi Kleber is game in and out.
He posted a line of 18 points, six rebounds, with four blocks, but that sort of effort only tells part of the story. He’s switchable on defense and so many opposing players seem to forget that he’s a heck of a shot blocker. Pair that with his simply outstanding shooting (4 of 7 from deep) and he’s remarkably important to the process in Dallas.
And that doesn’t mention Dorian Finney-Smith, who had a challenging January compared to his hot start, where he had to guard some of the NBA’s best players night after night. Watching him impose his will on the Hawks felt great; his energy powered the Mavericks on both ends of the floor. He’s a solid three point shooter and one of the league’s best offensive rebounders of three point misses.
This isn’t anything new, mind you, but in a game with little to take away for the big picture, watching the Maverick forwards dominate was excellent.
Jalen Brunson picked up the offensive slack for Dallas
With Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, and (obviously) Dwight Powell out, someone had to pick up the offense for the Mavericks. One would assume it would be Tim Hardaway Jr., but he had an off night (3 of 12 shooting, 7 points).
Cue Jalen Brunson, who stepped up in a big way for the Mavericks scoring a season high with 27 in a variety of ways. It’s been a peculiar season for Brunson, when viewing the big picture, but basketball is a game built on confidence in many ways, so him excelling like this is valuable. And with Luka Doncic out for at least several more games, Brunson getting on a roll would be great for the win column in Dallas.
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.