The Dallas Mavericks faced the Philadelphia 76ers in their third and final scrimmage, and for the most part, this game looked largely like two teams just wanting to make it to the eight game regular season.
The 76ers looked particularly dreadful shooting 5-of-27 from the field in the first quarter. The Mavericks contested shots, but Philadelphia could not buy a bucket. For Dallas, Kristaps Porzingis started hot with 13 points and five rebounds, but Luka Doncic struggled early. Even still the Mavericks took a 24-13 lead after one.
The 76ers climbed back into the game as the Mavericks bench unit failed to protect the lead. Philadelphia trimmed the lead to as little as five, but the starters were able to find some cushion, holding a 48-39 lead into the half.
With a quick 10-2 run the 76ers were able to take a lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter largely because Al Horford woke from his first half slumber pumping in points from all over the floor. Fortunately for Dallas, Doncic was able to impose his will on Matisse Thybulle and other helpless 76ers with Ben Simmons sitting for the remainder of the game. That kept Dallas within striking distance even though the 76ers outscored Dallas by 15 in the quarter and scored 41 total points. Philadelphia owned an 80-74 lead after three frames.
After being dominated in the third quarter, Dallas went on 12-2 run to tie game at 86. From there the teams traded blows, but Dallas stayed close thanks to Antonius Cleveland and J.J. Barea, with the latter possibly being the Mavericks only hope.
In 10 fourth quarter minutes J.J. Barea scored 11 points and engineered a miraculous comeback that was one Josh Reaves layup away from a win in regulation. He kept the heroics going in overtime burying a dagger three and setting up teammates for easy buckets. He finished the game with 14 points in 15 minutes and was the MVP in the Mavericks final regulation game where they won 118-115.
Kristaps Porzingis started strong but tailed off
Porzingis might be the Mavericks biggest X-factor heading into the playoffs. We know what we’ll get from Doncic, so if Porzingis and Doncic can both flip the switch Dallas will be a tough out. Tonight Porzingis looked well on his way to a 25 point, 10 rebound game as he collected 14 points and 10 rebounds in the first half. He demonstrated scoring on all three levels on offense. He connected from deep, hit a patented Dirk Nowitzki one-legged fadeaway and sealed Al Horford low to score an easy bucket.
He was mostly quiet in the second half while Doncic went to work, but he allowed Horford to find his rhythm as the 76ers raced out to a second half lead and never looked back. Porzingis finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds but failed to block a shot. Overall it was a good outing for the big man in his final tuneup.
The bench needs work
The Mavericks started the game strong, and the bench promptly allowed the 76ers back in the game with poor defense and shot selection. Trey Burke was a breath of fresh air, but he’s clearly not enough juice to get the bench rolling. The bench is plagued with passivity, lead by Delon Wright and Justin Jackson. While it could be just a scrimmage tactic, the Mavericks rely too heavily on Boban Marjanovic as a bail out option which is just not a sound strategy.
Antonius Cleveland earned his keep
The Mavericks severely lack wing depth, so every game is a potential audition, and Cleveland looked nice compared to some of his counterparts. In 17 minutes Cleveland scored 14 points with four rebounds. He was instrumental keeping Dallas within reach in the fourth quarter and showed bounce, energy and hustle. He most likely won’t get much burn when the real stuff starts, but he’s making the most of his time with the Mavericks and probably deserves a shot when it counts.
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.