It wasn’t as easy as maybe it should have been, but the Mavericks beat an undermanned Raptors team in Dallas Friday night 114-110. While it was a marque matchup, it was still a crucial game for the Mavericks, with tons of playoff seeding potential up in the air.
Here are the numbers we noticed the most.
0: Games needed to clinch a playoff spot
With this win tonight, Dallas has guaranteed themselves no worse than the sixth seed. That means no potential heartbreak via the increasingly reviled play-in tournament. By far the best side effect of playing their way out of the tournament is that the team will be able to use that time to rest and heal up as many bumps and bruises as is possible in the six days between the end of the season and the start of the post season proper.
11: Triple doubles by Luka Doncic this season
Luka Doncic was a facilitator early and had 10 assists by the end of the third quarter. It wasn’t a great shooting night, but it would take something truly catastrophic at this point to keep Luka under 10 points, so by the time he grabbed his 10th board early in the fourth quarter, it was good enough for his 11th triple double.
The 11 is good for fourth in the league this season where the triple double seems to be proliferating. No one is pushing that more than Russel Westbrook, who has lapped the field with 37. Nikola Jokic has 16 and James Harden has 12.
4: Clutch free throws hit by Josh Richardson
Josh Richardson has had an up and down season, but funnily enough, the role he’s excelled at is free throw specialist. On the season, Josh Richardson is shooting a career best 91.3 percent.
For all the razzle dazzle that Luka seems to manage everywhere else on the floor, that magic touch eludes his at the charity stripe where he shoots a meh-inducing 73 percent. Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks 30 million dollar man, boasts a fairly impressive 85 percent at the line, although he doesn’t get there too often.
When Toronto fought back from 19 points down and started playing the foul game down by two with under 10 seconds left, it was Richardson who got the inbound. And again after Malachi Flynn hit a quick layup to cut the lead to two. Richardson stepped to the line on both occasions and hit four free throws in a row. Such a simple act, but something that has been causing Mavs fans to prematurely gray. Losing one of the NBA’s greatest and most reliable free throw shooters of all time to retirement tends to leave pretty big shoes to fill. For now, at least, Josh Richardson is filling them.
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.