The Dallas Mavericks played on the road Wednesday night, defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers 120-112. Luka Doncic controlled the game for Dallas with 35 points, nine rebounds, and 13 assists. Caris LeVert was the high point man for the Cavs, scoring 32 in defeat.
The Mavericks established an early lead against Cleveland off of Luka Doncic’s penetration, but the Cavaliers stormed back to make it a game. Dallas hit 8-of-14 threes in the frame to carry a 34-30 lead after twelve minutes of action. Darius Garland and Caris LeVert took control in the second half for the Cavaliers, as the team poured in 37 points. The Mavericks got blasted in the Doncic-less minutes and missed all seven of their threes in the frame. Dallas went into the half down 67-61.
Things changed drastically in the third quarter, with the Mavericks roaring back to tie the game on the back of Luka Doncic. Dallas tied things up at 82 all at the 7:04 mark, then held the Cavs to just seven points over the rest of the quarter. The Mavericks headed into the fourth up 100-89. Dallas kept pace with the Cavs in the fourth and held them off long enough to walk away with a 120-112 victory.
Now, some thoughts:
Third quarter clamps
Playing the second night of a back-to-back, without one of their key players in Spencer Dinwiddie, it was understandable that Dallas came out a bit sluggish, particularly on the defensive end. After allowing 67 first half points, the Mavericks didn’t seem to make any changes coming out in the third, with the Cavaliers scoring 15 points in the first five minutes of the quarter.
But the Dallas offense had got going again after a rough second frame and after Dallas tied the game at 87 all at the 4:51 mark, something finally snapped with the Dallas defense. The Mavericks put the screws to Cleveland, forcing two live ball turnovers and a shot clock turnover as they firmly took control of the game over those final four-plus minutes. Dallas went on a 13-2 run to end the quarter and the game felt effectively over.
Dorian Finney-Smith with a new career high
This game isn’t winnable without DFS’s contributions. He passed his career high tonight, scoring 28 against Cleveland on 10-of-16 shooting including 6-of-12 from three. Four of Dorian’s top six field goal attempt games have come in the month of March and he’s only playing better basketball since signing his extension. There’s not much to add past that; Finney-Smith’s become reliable and that is very important for Dallas.
The importance of finding something when tired
Dallas looked like a team who played last night and the starting unit, at times, appeared like they needed a break on the defensive end. Luka Doncic went nuts to start the third (he scored 20 in the frame with the Cavs scoring just 22) but it was the defensive effort by everyone for just long enough to put the Cavaliers away. Dallas is done with back-to-backs now, finishing 7-5 on the year I believe.
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.