After such a dramatic and eventful trade deadline, what the Dallas Mavericks could really use is a dose of familiarity. Just a warm blanket they can wrap themselves in while the dust settles. Ah, how about playing the Los Angeles Clippers at home again on Saturday? If you’re Luka Doncic, nothing could sound better. Coming off his 51 point outing on Thursday, the chance to play the same squad again is chicken soup of the basketball soul.
It’s unknown whether or not the newly acquired Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans will suit up for the game. Even if they do, counting on either to contribute anything to a new squad they’ve barely met seems unrealistic. Luckily for Dallas, they’ve already shown once they can beat this Clippers squad without any additional help. They’ll just have to hope for more of the same.
Dallas was a team who started the season positively bursting at the seams with front court bigs. With Kristaps Porzingis D.C. bound, WIllie Cauley-Stein and Moses Brown looking for a new team, and Boban Marjanovic behind “only play incase of emergency” glass, the front court now seems shockingly barren.
On Thursday, at least, Dallas found a way to overcome the potential weak spot. L.A. is not without some holes of its own, missing by far their two most important players in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. However, you’d think a rotation of Ivica Zubac, Marcus Morris Sr., and Nicolas Batum would be enough to corral some boards. Not so. In the last 10 games, the Clippers are allowing the sixth most rebounds to their opponents.
Luka and Maxi Kleber grabbed nine boards each, and Dorian Finney-Smith added seven more. All three got more boards than any individual Clipper. While Dallas works to incorporate new pieces, they need to continue to take advantage of some of their opponents weaker areas on the court.
Lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply mark Luka down for a 40-spot for every game Dallas played? For as much fun as Thursday was, it’s unlikely the Mavs can count on another career-best scoring deluge from Doncic. To a degree, they were (correctly) riding the hot hand. There was no real need for someone else to step up to the challenge of being the go-to scorer that game. That will likely change Saturday.
Even as Doncic has seemingly stepped his game up after what might be perceived as his All-Star snub, earning zero media votes, it remains to be seen who is going to be the go-to No. 2 scorer. With Tim Hardaway Jr. out, Reggie Bullock and Jalen Brunson seem like the two most likely candidates. Perhaps even Dorian Finney-Smith, riding high on his shiny new max contract extension, can get hot for a night.
The two playoff series played between these two franchises created a sort of mini-rivalry. With Dallas coming out on the losing side both times certainly mean there’s not much love coming from the Mavericks locker room, and Doncic in particular who has not been one to back down from some chirping.
After some left-of-center comments were directed at Luka from Morris Sr. during a playoff game, the two quickly brushed it off—water under the bridge. That animus, however, was quickly replaced, as Terrence Mann, of all people, has become public enemy number one as far as Doncic is concerned.
If Luka Doncic loves one thing, it’s picking a random role player from the other team and destroying them. Clint Capela, Mo Wagner, and Patrick Beverley have all been on the receiving end of this, but none as consistently as Mann. Luka may not go for 50, but there’s a decent chance the Petty King will try to find at least a moment or two to try and let Mann know what he thinks of him.
How to watch
Bally Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass — 7:30 p.m. CT