Winning a basketball game against the Miami Heat is fun. Winning a basketball game in Miami against the Heat is even more fun. Winning it the way the Dallas Mavericks did last night is the most fun.
Last night, the Mavs were outmanned. They were without sharpshooter Reggie Bullock and were playing on the road against one of the best teams in the league — a team that feels like a matchup nightmare for Dallas. They hit Luka Doncic with hard doubles constantly. They're stronger than the Mavs in the paint. Ultimately, they just have more talent.
But it didn’t matter! The Mavs moved the ball to break down the Heat’s defense and made plays when necessary. One of the biggest difference-making plays (and easily the most fun) came late in the third quarter. Take a look:
The play starts with Luka getting doubled. He keeps the two defenders on their toes with one of the most fun dribble moves in his arsenal — the reverse between the legs dribble. It’s a move straight out of the Chris Paul bag of tricks. After that move, Luka picks up his dribble and things get even crazier.
We have to pause the play and take a look at the situation Luka is in.
His dribble is dead. He’s basically in the corner. And now he has three defenders with active arms surrounding him. For 99 percent of players in the world, this play ends in a turnover. I mean, that’s what this play should result in. But Luka put his Superman cape on and did the miraculous.
Luka jumps up in the air (another classic bad decision that would have every high school coach losing their minds), put the ball above his head, then quickly brings it back down to his side, almost like he’s going to make a behind-the-back pass to nobody. Only he wasn’t preparing for a behind-the-back pass. He was loading up his side-arm cannon, ready to make a pass that only he can make — a pass to the opposite corner.
Pause! Here’s another look before the pass leaves his hand.
Nah... you can’t be serious, Luka.
Of course, his pass got to Jalen Brunson right in time, right in the perfect spot. Brunson then does a quick touch-pass to Davis Bertans who’s standing above the break waiting for a catch-and-shoot three. He splashes it. Three points. Tie game.
Luka won’t get anything in the box score for this play. Brunson gets the assist. Bertans gets the points. But this is all Luka. It’s the perfect pass that leads to the pass — the hockey assist.
It was beautiful. It was magical. And as soon as Bertans knocked the shot down, all the momentum shifted toward the Mavs and you could tell it was going to be one of those games — one of those games where Luka’s magic is contagious enough to infect the whole team.
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.