If you’ve been following my writing and listening to my work on the postgame podcasts this season, you’ll know that I’ve been a pretty patient guy when it comes to this Mavericks season.
There are tons of reasons for that, which I’ve repeated ad nauseum. The team has been decimated by COVID and injury rehab for their second best player. Just this season, I’ve written multiple “hey, don’t worry things are still cool” pieces on the site. I’ve written about how the Mavericks showed off a bit of their true potential in their beatdown of the Clippers. I got excited about the first starting lineup change of the season that showed some good things against the Rockets. When Luka Doncic played perhaps his most complete game as an NBA player in a dominant win against the Hornets, I gushed about it. Suffice to say, I’ve been pretty calm.
So I think it means a lot that I’m pretty pissed off!
Seriously, what is this nonsense? I understand the Mavericks season has been anything but easy, but did the Mavericks get Monstar’d a week ago? Why does it seem to necessitate the Mavericks getting their asses whipped for the first 12 minutes of the game before they understand it’s time to play and get serious? I understand most of my questions are probably answered by the reasons I outlined at the start of my second paragraph, but at a certain point a good team with (supposedly) good players craps the bed so much and so quickly that you start to become the Joker.
I don’t even know what to say anymore. The double whammy of the Mavericks missing half their rotation for half of this season and the team getting so thoroughly and hilariously waxed recently makes it really hard for me to stay patient or write about X’s and O’s and break down tape. What would I even write about or create gifs of? All I could do is find a gif of the Mavericks farting and falling down and follow that up with me writing “this team is a trash fire” and clicking publish.
Since I’m at a loss for words about this team, I’m just gonna go down a list of my grievances
- The best way to showcase the level of disinterest the Mavericks had to start this game is to point at the rebounding. Utah had seven (7!) offensive rebounds in the first quarter. That is too many! Here’s a trip down the floor where Rudy Gobert gets two offensive rebounds with three Mavericks standing near him and no other Jazz player that close to the rim.
Kristaps Porzingis does zero boxing out. I’m sorry, but standing next to a guy and slightly hunched over is not boxing out. Just because you’re touching your man, it doesn’t mean you’re boxing out. This was in the opening minutes of the game! What a sign of things to come.
- To be fair to Porzingis, at least he actually touched the guy he was supposed to be boxing out. Look at James Johnson spaced out in the paint here:
The Jazz player gets the rebound. Good grief.
- I’m over the Willie Cauley-Stein experience. I was technically over it the moment the Mavericks traded for him, because I have functioning eyeballs that have watched non-Mavericks basketball and read about basketball by people smarter than me. Cauley-Stein, despite all his workout videos over the summer, is shooting a ghastly 61.3 percent in the restricted area, which is one of the worst marks in the league for players that have attempted at least 60 shots from there. Oh and most of the players on that list are guards. He’s scoring exactly 1.00 point per possession as a roll man while shooting 53.1 percent, good for 37.4 percentile in the league. Dwight Powell, who also stinks because he tore his freaking Achilles tendon 12 months ago, is scoring 1.14 points per possession as a roll man, doing so on 62.5 percent shooting. By the way, here is Cauley-Stein passing out of an open layup after a pick and roll with Luka Doncic so the Mavericks can clang a contested three:
Props to Trey Burke for taking the contested shot instead of making the extra pass to James Johnson.
I wonder why Doncic seems so frustrated?
- I’m convinced something happened before the Mavericks sat Kristaps Porzingis on the second night of a back-to-back against the Rockets a week ago. In the previous four games before he sat, he averaged 21.8 points per game on 36-of-62 shooting (58 percent). In the three games after he came back? He averaged 15 points per game on 18-of-50 shooting (36 percent). The dude looks completely different from the Porzingis that started the season against the Hornets on Jan. 13. He seems slower, like he’s playing in quicksand. You can practically see the gears turning in his head when he gets the ball, mechanically going through his predetermined set of moves without room for improvisation. Kirk stole this from me after I wrote it in our MMB slack, but it really does feel Harrison Barnes-like when Porzingis has the ball. Wait, that’s disrespectful to Barnes — he can actually post up well. Porzingis is working his way back from his second knee surgery rehab in two years, so there’s always time for him to work his way back. But at a certain point it’s just has to be better than this. The Mavericks are paying Porzingis way too much money to only be good for 30 games a season. They’ve just got to find a way to get more out of him.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. continues one of the strangest seasons I’ve ever seen and I think he’s going to give me a heart attack before it’s over. Are we sure Monta Ellis has it all? Hardaway might take that crown, because the dude seriously takes all or nothing to the extreme. He was 1-of-5 tonight, 0-of-1 on threes and did literally nothing else — three assists, one steal and one rebound, more bad defense. Just in the month of January alone, Hardaway has posted the following shooting lines: 1-of-5, 4-of-13, 0-of-12, 3-of-11, 4-of-15, 11-of-14, 12-of-20, 8-of-12. It’s almost impossible for him to have a pedestrian game. What’s hilarious is that before Friday’s loss he was shooting 39.7 percent from three, after shooting 39.8 percent from three last season. So in a vacuum, he’s basically been the same. Hell, he entered tonight shooting 50.5 percent on two pointers, which he shot 48.5 percent on last season. Somehow he still manages to be one of the more frustrating players on the team. Basketball is weird.
- Juwan Morgan, the second year Jazz player who hasn’t played much in his two seasons and entered tonight’s game having played a total of 34 minutes, played 21 minutes against the Mavericks and scored a career high 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-4 from three. The Jazz played him as a small ball five in the first half and he hit both his three pointers in the first seven minutes of his playing time. So two three pointers in 21 minutes. Porzingis has played 90 minutes in his last three games and made four three pointers.
- I’m going to be pissy about 2019 free agency for the 348th time: Bojan Bogdanovic, who signed a 4-year, $73 million contract in the summer of 2019 to leave the Indiana Pacers and join the Utah Jazz, scored 32 points on 16 shots, going 7-of-11 from three Friday night. He shot 41 percent from three last season and although he’s struggled a bit this season coming back from a hand/wrist surgery, he was still shooting 36 percent from three as a starter on a team with the best record in the NBA. Let me remind you, the Dallas Mavericks had max cap room in the summer of 2019. Their biggest free agent signings were Delon Wright, who isn’t on the team anymore, to $28 million contract and Seth Curry, who isn’t on the team anymore, to a $32 million contract. The Mavericks didn’t sign Bogdanovic because they had zero interest in signing him, because for some reason the Mavericks hate overpaying good role players. This wasn’t even a case of competing with a glamour market — he left Indiana for UTAH. Why did he? Because the Jazz gave him a crap ton of money! That’s how you persuade good players to leave their teams. I’m sorry to break this news to you but not every good player signs a team-friendly value contract. Most of them sign fairly large ones, because good basketball players get paid a lot of money. The Mavericks should try it sometime, maybe in the 2021 offseason? What a thought!