This will not be an analytical post. There will be no hardcore breakdowns, screenshots, gifs or graphs. The Mavericks play a Game 7 in Los Angeles against the Clippers in less than 48 hours.
It’s time. It’s time for the Mavericks to finally show us what kind of team they really are.
They’ve given us glimpses over the last two seasons. We’ve seen them at their highest and lowest. Regardless, at the end of the day, they haven’t really done anything. There are no pats on the back for two straight first round losses. A season ago it was a six-game first round loss to this same Clippers team. It was a one-man show as Luka Doncic didn’t have Kristaps Porzingis for the final three games, didn’t have Dwight Powell, Jalen Brunson or Willie Cauley-Stein. At the time, it was a valiant effort against a really good team.
This season? The excuses have shrunk. Porzingis has played in every game and will play in Game 7 unless he accidently walks into a manhole between now and Sunday afternoon. Powell, Brunson and Cauley-Stein are all here. The Mavericks haven’t had any catastrophic injuries, aside from Luka’s neck and shoulder scare in Game 3.
The Mavericks even had all the advantages in this series. They’ve never trailed! Up 2-0 with Games 3 and 4 at home, they squandered it. Up 3-2, with Game 6 at home, another miss. There will be lots of long looks in the mirror if the Mavericks fail to capitalize and win Game 7.
Everything is on the line. This is basically the same Mavericks team as of Feb. 2019, after the Mavericks traded for Porzingis and shipped out Harrison Barnes. We’ve discussed ad nauseum the failures of the Mavericks last two off seasons to properly surround their MVP talent Doncic with the right supporting cast. It says a lot that in Game 6, only three players played that weren’t on the roster after the Barnes trade in 2019: Boban Marjanovic, Cauley-Stein and Josh Richardson. Neither of them are the types of impact players that can be legitimate starters on a Conference Finals contender.
Let’s get this straight: the Mavericks are in this series because of Doncic’s brilliance and nothing more. Aside from a fantastic Game 1, Dallas’ role players have been missing in action. Dorian Finney-Smith is a combined 8-of-25 from three in Games 2-6. Tim Hardaway Jr., who was as hot as a player can be in Games 1 and 2, shot 33.3 percent from the floor and 35.3 percent from three since. Porzingis is averaging 12.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game for the entire series. Richardson, the crown jewel of last offseason, is on the bench and barely a factor. Despite being fifth in minutes played in Games 3-6, Maxi Kleber has scored 18 points in those minutes and taken a total of 19 shots, shooting 31.6 percent. Jalen Brunson has zero assists in the last two games.
Things are bleak, but you can literally throw all of that into the garbage if the Mavericks do one thing on Sunday — win.
It might not be fair to pin all our thoughts, impressions and final opinion on this Mavericks team in one game, but that’s how this business works. The Mavericks can answer just about every question every doubter or skeptic has had about this roster for the past two years if they can make history and win Game 7 on Sunday.
Frankly, it’s time. Doncic is an MVP talent and has put up eye-popping numbers in each of his playoff runs. If this series ends poorly, with the supporting cast failing to show up yet again, that’s an indictment on the entire organization. To be honest, this is also a big moment for Doncic as well. He’s struggled in just about every fourth quarter in this series. Fair or not, he has yet to close a game out strong in terms of scoring the basketball. That needs to be better too.
Time is running out. The Mavericks organization says this team is good enough, publicly. They’re happy with what this is? They’re confident in the choices that led to this moment? Then win Game 7. Prove 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.