It is no secret that Luka Doncic is a great passer. That includes his prowess when passing out of double teams. Opposing teams double him knowing his skill level simply to put pressure on the other four Mavericks on the floor. The pressure release valve when Luka is trapped on the catch is the center position flashing to the high post or top of the key. Rotating the ball out from that position requires an understanding of who has been left open by the double and feeding that player with an on-time, on-target pass.
Maxi Kleber usually fills this role in the closing lineup but tonight a first-half injury rendered him unavailable for the rest of the game. This gave Dwight Powell a chance to shine in the clutch.
This play midway through the third quarter sees Powell catch a feed from Bullock and find Luka Doncic under the basket for a nice role-reversal layup.
With just under three minutes to go in the fourth, the Clippers extend their trap on Doncic all the way up to the logo. Instead of passing to a shooter, Luka passes to Powell who uses a dribble to buy time for Reggie Bullock to rotate up to the right-side 45-degree spot-up slot. Bullock then hits one of his four difference-making shots from deep.
With just over two minutes to play and Luka doubled in the post, the pass comes to Dorian Finney-Smith. As Finney-Smith feeds Powell, Reggie Bullock floats to the weak side corner. Powell spins nearly a full circle and slings a pass to Bullock for an open shot before Paul George can recover.
In a second half that saw the Clippers clamp down on Luka, Powell’s five assists were crucial. With all but one of Spencer Dinwiddie’s assists coming in the first half, the Mavericks needed secondary passing to shooters.
In an offseason that saw the Mavericks attempt to retool their frontcourt to address rebounding concerns, it appears that Dwight Powell has returned to the starting lineup. His ability to keep the ball moving as he did against the Clippers is a big reason why. While he has well-documented limitations, Powell is a consummate pro and is all too often taken for granted.