Playing yet another game without Luka Doncic, the Mavericks opened on the road against the Timberwolves and looked alright early, jumping out to a 13-9 lead. Then the members of the depleted Dallas bench trickled in and they simply couldn’t score. Karl Anthony-Towns in particular punished the Mavericks early and often. The Wolves pushed things up to double digits in the second half, but a late quarter lapse in judgement by coach Chris Finch and Jared Vanderbilt allowed the Mavericks to cut into the lead just before quarter close. Dallas found themselves behind 56-50 at the half.
The Mavericks would play the second half without Kristaps Porzingis, something to do with his foot. It mainly meant trying to hold on despite being out-talented at most positions, which Dallas was unable to do. The Mavericks made an interesting game of things throughout the second half, but they weren’t able to rally enough to hold on and found themselves back under .500 after losing to Minnesota, 111-105.
Now, some thoughts
In praise of Dorian Finney-Smith
As this is a site which has often and likely correctly noted that the Mavericks may only go as far as Dorian Finney-Smith is capable of taking them, it’s equally important to state when his play is the only real reason a game isn’t an utter blow out. His 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including a scorching 3-of-5 from deep, helped keep this a game close.
Of course, I could be praising Tim Hardaway’s 28 points, but that’s what he’s paid to do, so it felt worth mentioning how good Dorian was in a game where it ultimately didn’t matter. He’s a master of little things, that Dorian Finney-Smith, and as much as I am critical of the expectations Dallas places upon him, he’s still capable of surprising me and that’s really fun.
Maxi Kleber had 14 rebounds
What. Well! Sure. I don’t know, I just had to mention this as it tied his career high which he got against the Thunder in 2019.
The Dallas bench isn’t very good when it’s missing some of the best players
With Jalen Brunson and Tim Hardaway starting due to the neat combination of injuries to Luka Doncic and COVID-19 protocols for every other rotation player, it means the bench is burdened with trying to be something they aren't. The group scored 17 points on 6-of-23 shooting, so if there’s a place to look for where things went sideways, it’s there.
It’s such a slog watching this team
Those of you who’ve made it this far have to be with me. This team is not fun to watch and that includes games with Luka Doncic. I have a lot of thoughts on why but the why doesn’t really matter since we’re not in control of that. It’s just a grind. It’s a privilege to cover them but that doesn’t mean it’s fun. They’ve got to figure out why this basketball is so joyless.
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