There’s something very Mavs-ian about topping the leaders of both conferences in the span of a week, and then turning around and losing a largely uncompetitive game against a middling Knicks team. If nothing else, it should serve as a reminder not to be a prisoner of the moment. No question, their recent run up to this point was the most fun the team has been all season, but it didn’t erase the deficiencies on offense they were dealing with prior to that. Neither should one loss be reason to burn it down. But any one who thought Dallas was a team re-imagined in 2022 should have their rose-tinted glasses a bit fogged up by this loss.
These New Year Mavericks have been generating wins largely by leaning into their new defensive mindset, and then doing enough on the offensive end to stack up wins. Tonight, it was clear early on that the offense just wasn’t clicking. They started the game by shooting 2-of-11 from three. They shifted the mindset a bit by dialing back to taking just six shot from deep in the second quarter. Even then, they managed to hit just one.
In particular, the shooting struggles that Dorian Finney-Smith had seemingly worked through to start the season found him again tonight. He missed a number of open looks and finished the night 0-of-4. This wasn’t just a case of role players not stepping up, however. Doncic’s shot selection was suspect, featuring multiple possessions that consisted of nothing more than a lackadaisical post up before a missed jumper. He didn’t help with the three point shooting either, going a troubling 1-of-9.
Perhaps no play sums up Dallas’ offensive ineffectiveness more than a five-on-four fast break in the second quarter as Dallas was trying to work themselves back into the game. A Mitchell Robinson missed alley-oop saw Dallas pushing the pace… right until Marquese Chriss got called for an offensive foul and a Maverick turnover.
The defining stretch
Despite being ice cold for a half, Dallas started the third down by 11. Nothing insurmountable, certainly. In fact, in under two minutes, they had closed the gap to a single-digit deficit of just seven. What followed was a 14-1 Knicks run that stretched their lead to 20 in just over three and a half minutes. Dallas never sniffed the lead again.
It was a stretch of particularly brutal play from Doncic. Dallas took six shots, made only one — a Powell dunk — and Luka contributed four of the five misses. Most were turnaround jumpers in and around the lane that weren’t really falling for anyone tonight.
The writing was pretty much on the wall after that. Just one of those nights for Dallas.
No appetite for vengeance
Maybe it’s confirmation bias, but it sure does feel like if there’s one thing Mavericks’ fans can count on, it getting punked by former Mavericks. This year has added a new wrinkle, getting punked by Desmond Bane — someone who was never even a Maverick in the first place, but it still mad enough at us to throw in a career high when he’s facing our squad.
It’s neither here nor there, but with a team that is roughly 40% New York Knick cast offs, I’m always looking for someone with a chip on their shoulder, looking to stick it to the team that passed on them. And it never happens. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Reggie Bullock regressed from their recent shooting revival. Frank Ntilikina didn’t see the floor until garbage time. Heck, Kristaps Porzingis wasn’t even there. Even our coach, former Knick Jason Kidd wasn’t on the sidelines! C’est la vie. Dallas should look to put this one in the rear view ASAP and get back to its winning ways in 2022.
Here’s our latest episode of Mavs Moneyball After Dark. If you’re unable to see the embed below, click here to be taken to the podcast directly. Or go to your favorite podcast app and search Mavs Moneyball Podcast.