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3 things we learned from a dramatic 136-132 Mavericks’ win against the Bucks

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Luka Doncic dealt out a special night in the bubble against the best team in the league

Milwaukee Bucks v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks passed the midway point in the NBA seeding games with the unenviable task of facing the number one team in the league: the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Mavericks jumped out to a quick lead, going up 24-13 behind Luka Doncic absolutely cooking early.

While the Mavericks took their zero turnovers and three point lead into the second quarter, officiating frustrations and Milwaukee making a push left the Mavs down nine at half — being outscored 39-27 in the second quarter.

A side note, even though it’s great when Luka dishes 10 first half assists, it’s never good when you let Brook Lopez score 21 in a quarter (34 points in the game).

The good news is instead of the Mavericks lulling themselves into another third quarter nap, they responded with their best third in the bubble. Outscoring the Bucks 31-20 after the break, the Mavericks responded with needed energy and hustle.

A gritty battle in the fourth, including the Mavericks being down seven with two minutes left, led to overtime. An overtime that saw the Mavericks asserting themselves, with several clutch Luka moments. The Mavericks notched their second victory this season against the best team in the league, winning 136-132 Saturday.

Strong Starts

The Mavericks looked ultra-focused to start each half tonight. Head coach Rick Carlisle spoke to the importance of just that in pregame:

“The beginning of games are really important because that sets the tone for your ability to play from in front. As I’ve said many times, the NBA is probably more a first quarter league than a fourth quarter league, in many respects. If you win the first quarter, it exponentially increases your chance to bring a lead into the fourth, which is one of the major indicators of being able to win in the NBA.”

And while the start to the game was nice, the response after being down at half was even better. In a quarter they’ve historically had trouble with, the Mavericks have been particularly bad, a gross minus-22 in the bubble. Tonight, they played with focus and energy after a tough second, and went plus-11 in a crucial third.

Dorian doing work

Starting forward Dorian Finney-Smith notched his third solid game in a row, now posting averages of 18 points and 12 rebounds in that time, after a fantastic 27 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, while shooting 6-of-12 from deep on Saturday night.

The restart of the season has been a roller coaster for fellow starters Seth Curry and Tim Hardaway Jr., and Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis badly need help in the early minutes of the game. So to have such consistent offensive play of late from Finney-Smith is a gift.

If the Mavericks want to give the Western Conference two seed (the Los Angeles Clippers) trouble, they will need these kinds of performances from their key role players.

Luka Doncic

In what has to be near the top of his all-time Mavericks’ performances, Luka Doncic was without a doubt dealing tonight in the bubble. But truly what else can be said?

34 POINTS

A CAREER-HIGH NINETEEN ASSISTS

JUST TWO TURNOVERS

While nabbing 14 rebounds!

On the day it was announced Luka Doncic was a finalist for Most Improved Player of the Year award, the young guard was special. Perhaps Luka decided to #Considertheduck.

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.