Those regular readers of the site will know that when I write the recap, I literally recap the game in as much detail as I can before getting to some broader (or in some cases very specific) observations. Tonight, that’s not going to happen because the Cavaliers sat something like seven of their players in an attempt to lose this game and boy did they suck.
With Luka Doncic getting off to the races early, the Mavericks built up a nice lead in the first quarter. Doncic managed to reach 5,000 career points on free throws (he went 7 of 7 in the half) and Josh Green got to play early, injecting energy into what felt like a lackadaisical contest. Trey Burke hit a half court shot at the buzzer too. The Mavericks led 33-19 after twelve minutes.
The Cavaliers were unable to hit much of anything in the entire first half, scoring on just 14 of 45 attempts. Dallas, on the other hand, kept the pressure on and managed to double up their first quarter lead. A variety of Dallas players scored in the frame whereas few Cavaliers did and the Mavericks took a 62-37 lead into the half, their third largest at any point this season by halftime.
Despite repeated attempts to cut into the lead, Cleveland only managed to cut into the Dallas lead by four points in the entire third quarter. The Cavaliers scored 28, beating the Mavericks on offensive boards enough to become annoying. Unfortunately for Cleveland, the Mavericks scored 24 points and held the Cavs at bay. Dallas led 86-65 after three quarters.
Nate Hinton got to start the fourth. Josh Green hit a three pointer and got fouled (he did not hit the free throw). Tyler Bey finally got to play and scored on a tip in late. It was a quarter of survival. Dallas walked away with a 110-90 victory over Cleveland. The two teams meet again on Sunday.
Well look at that. I did write a recap of the game, mostly. Alas. Now, some thoughts.
Dallas beat a bad team, finally!
I don’t recall the record of the Mavericks against sub-.500 opponents off-hand and given that it’s Friday and it’s late and it’s the second night of a back-to-back, I don’t care to. What’s important is that for the Mavericks did not lose to a bad team. There was very little messing around and when the team played their good players, Dallas beat the crap out of the Cavaliers. It feels good and it’s important in the race for the playoffs in the Western conference.
Starters got rest after taking care of business
Taking a gander at the box score, Luka Doncic played just 23 minutes. It was his lowest minutes total since the Hornets blew out the Mavericks way back on December 30th. Dorian Finney-Smith played just 26 minutes, his fourth lowest total of the year. With Maxi Kleber and Kristaps Porzingis already out for what can likely be considered rest and rehab dealing with injuries, this all works out really well for Dallas all things considered.
The Mavericks don’t have a deep enough roster to really give anyone else time off and still keep winning, so it’s nice that Dallas could actually execute a plan in terms of blowing out a bad team and resting guys.
Playing the Eastern conference is good for a team’s defense
There’s something to be said about the more energetic, switching and active defense the Mavericks have played without Kristaps Porzingis there to cover their mistakes (at least in theory). But man does the East just suck. It’s a bad conference and watching these bad teams play it’s hilarious because even with this wonky Maverick season, Dallas would be one of the best teams if they were in the East.
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.