The Dallas Mavericks improved to 2-3 on the season with a 93-83 victory over the Miami Heat Friday night. Luka Doncic posted a near triple double for Dallas with 27 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists. Bam Adebayo was the high point man for the Heat with 19.
Both the Heat and Mavericks appeared to suffered from a New Year’s hangover as neither team could score at all to open the game; the score was just 7-5 after six minutes of action. After a Miami timeout, both teams woke up some and the Mavericks finished the frame up 20-16.
Dallas got into foul trouble early, fouling five times in the first four minutes of action. But Miami could not capitalize; a combination of turnovers and bricks resulted in the Heat scoring just 15 points the entire quarter. The Mavericks found their rhythm in the period, with James Johnson leading the bench unit to start the quarter and Luka Doncic doing work to end the half on a variety of scoring moves. The only real mistake in the half was Doncic berating the referees fouling a missed foul call to end the half resulting in a technical foul. The Mavericks took a 46-31 lead into the half.
In a role reversal from the Charlotte game, the Dallas Mavericks came out in the third quarter an proceeded to pour it on the Heat. The Mavericks led by as many as 24 points as Miami looked lifeless and unable to stop Dallas. Luka Doncic notched the first Dallas double double of the season late by grabbing his tenth rebound. The Mavericks took a 73-53 lead into the final twelve minutes.
The Dallas bench unit played like crap to start the fourth which allowed Miami to gain momentum and close the gap enough to make the Mavericks uncomfortable. Maverick starters didn’t fair much better though they held the Heat off enough to walk away with a 93-83 victory.
Now, some observations:
Winning ugly is better than nothing
The Mavericks have a massive margin for improvement and one has to think at some point things will come together for this team nicely. The Miami Heat played an awful game, missing many, many open looks (7 of 33 from distance) along with being quite sloppy with the ball (14 turnovers). The Mavericks weren’t much better, giving the ball away 16 times and shooting just 12 of 37 from three point range.
The margin of victory should’ve been more, but Dallas got lethargic late and things snowballed as they did often last season. At least they won the rebounding battle and Dwight Powell contributed some positive statistics.
The Mavericks just have to start hitting open looks
Prior to the game, Luka Doncic had 25 credited assists compared to 58 potential assists per NBA.com advanced stats. Many people on social media have assumed this is pretty good, but it’s really not considering how many open looks the Dallas offense generates, both including and past Luka Doncic.
Through four games, the Mavericks hit just 36% of wide open threes (defender not within six feet of the shooter), which was 23rd in the league. That’s bad and needs to improve. The role players played well enough this game since the Heat were bad for most of the contest, but it’s very clear from body language that Luka is getting tired of watching his teammates miss good looks.
Luka Doncic is absurd
FSSW showed a graphic after the game that Luka Doncic is now tied with Dirk at 38 games of when a Maverick lead the team in points, rebounds, and assists. He’s still shooting the three ball terribly, but 19% is better than 12.5% on the year. He looked a lot better around the basket against the Heat and put numerous defenders in the spin cycle. Look at this series of moves:
Then there’s this pass on the move:
That he’s this good and there’s still so much clear improvement he can make is something I hope I’ll marvel at for years. He’s going to get even better around the basket as his conditioning improves too. Once his teammates start hitting shots he’s serving up the Mavericks might very well take off.