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4 observations following the Dallas Mavericks pulling away from the Indiana Pacers, 124-112

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Back at .500

Dallas Mavericks v Indiana Pacers Photo by AJ Mast/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks notched their fifth road win of the season, defeating the Indiana Pacers 124-112. Kristaps Pozingis led the Mavericks with 27 points, 13 rebounds, and four assists. Malcolm Brogdon led the Pacers in defeat with 26 points.

Rick Carlisle opted for the first starting line up of the season featuring Kristaps Porzingis at the five as the Indiana Pacers were without starting big man Myles Turner due to a hand fracture. The results from Dallas were high octane as they scored with ease, particularly after Indiana tried to blitz Luka Doncic on high screen and rolls, leaving Doncic with easy pickings, The Mavericks led by as many as 15 but a sloppy close to the quarter resulted in a 37-28 lead after twelve minutes of action.

Indiana closed the gap all the way down to three on multiple occasions early in the second quarter as the Dallas offense reverted to the ugly form in recent games. Players not named Kristaps Porzingis struggled to hit open looks and the Pacers shot the ball well from beyond the arc. The Mavericks actually built up a double digit lead on the back of a few strange Pacer miscues, but once again closed the quarter in blundering and lethargic fashion. Dallas took a 65-63 lead into halftime.

The Pacers ran a Box-and-one defense for good chunks of the third period to gunk up the Dallas ball movement and it worked in large spurts. The Mavericks played what can be best described as a disjointed game in the frame. Indiana managed to take a late lead finally, after trailing most of the game, but the Mavericks ended the quarter up 93-92.

The fourth opened up with a score from Indiana to take the lead but Dallas responded with an 8-0 run which prompted a Pacer timeout. But by that point, the run was on. The Mavericks slowly built a lead throughout the frame. By the time Luka Doncic re-entered the game, things felt well in hand. Strong games from Kristaps Porzingis and Trey Burke led the Mavericks as they notch a road win and come back to .500 on the season. The Dallas Mavericks beat the Indiana Pacers, 124-112

Now, some thoughts:

Kristaps Porzingis at the five is good

This is nothing new for frequent readers of Mavs Moneyball, but if you didn’t know, last year the Dallas offense took things up a notch when Kristaps Porzingis played the five in small ball line ups. With the absence of Myles Turner, Carlisle inserted Porzingis at the five and what do you know, the offense exploded for 35 early points and scored 124 in the game. Could it be because the Pacers played terrible defense? Sure (and more on that in the next observation). But Dallas forces a defense to make tough choices with the 7’3” guy who can shoot, drive, dunk, rebound, and even pass a little is the only “big” on the court.

It’s unclear how often Dallas will go with Porzingis at the five just because of the wear and tear it takes on him. But they needed to win tonight and he was key in pushing them over the top.

Luka Doncic made the Pacers pay when they sent a double team

The Doncic stat line was at once impressive (13 points, 12 rebounds, 12 assists) while also feeling pedestrian if you watched the entire game. He didn’t shoot the ball well at the rim or from distance, though he did have some nice midrange shots. Where Luka excelled in this 10th road game of the season was distribution.

The Pacers sent a second man at Doncic off pick and roll situations and he diced them apart early and often. Many of his 12 assists looked easy with Kristaps Porzingis at the rim. And though the Mavericks ran away with the game late, if other players (looking at you James Johnson and Willie Cauley-Stein) could simply hit an open jumper or lay up, he would’ve challenged his career high in assists.

Alas, that’s just how it goes sometimes.

Please hit shots

This drum’s beaten plenty at this point: a lot of the Maverick shooting woes should go away with good shooters who currently are in the COVID protocol are back in the line up. I say it to myself as a mantra.

AND YET, it’s wild watching some of the misses from professional basketball players. Luka Doncic and the other Mavericks are serving one another up with incredible looks and no one is hitting! 8 of 27 from distance STINKS. The volume was down from three, though, and the Mavericks were good from everywhere else.

Josh Green, waterbug

I mean this with love: Josh Green gives me Big Toddler Energy. Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent 4-8 hours of the last 315 days with my four year old, but watching Green reminds me of watching my son figure things out in real life.

Green runs so incredibly hard once the rebound is secured. He pushes the pace when he brings the ball up the floor. He’s cutting more and more to the right spots when he doesn’t have the ball. He’s driving to the rim with reckless abandon. He actually took a three pointer. He gets worked on man-to-man defense. He seems to forget how to navigate screens every other time. He make a wild jump pass out to Hardaway for a three. He plays as hard as he possibly can every possession. Oh and he hit that killer turnaround jumper that gave me Dirk vibes.

It has been an EXPERIENCE, is the point. And I’m here for it.

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.