The Pistons have been officially eliminated from the playoffs, but for some reason, that seems to only have emboldened them. Now they’re a weirdo squad who has won three in a row including a win over the 76ers. With nothing to play for and Cade Cunningham in and out of the lineup, Saddiq Bey’s got the greenest light in the league, and his confidence must be sky high coming off of a 31 point night against the Pacers.
The Mavericks, meanwhile, are looking for their 50th win of the season - a huge milestone not seen since the 2014-15 season. 50 is a nice round number, but if Dallas wants a realistic chance to claim the 3rd seed back from Golden State, they need to be in a win-out mindset. Ultimately, they’ll need some help from the Warriors, but for now, they can only control what they can control, and that starts by taking care of business against Detroit as road favorites.
This season, Dwight Powell is averaging an efficient if unremarkable 8.6 points per game. However, those who have stayed tuned in to Mavs’ games this late in the season may have registered that Dwight Powell is having a moment. Luka has been finding new and exciting ways to feed Powell in the post. Even Dorian Finney-Smith is getting in on the “feed Powell” action.
Over the last 10 games, his points-scored average has jumped to 12.7 per game. His minutes have been nudged up from 22 to 25 minutes per game, but finding four additional points in those three additional minutes is great efficiency. Long-time Mavs fans will know about the legend of March Dwight Powell. That is, at least in recent years, Powell always seemed to find that next gear when the Mavericks were tanking the hardest. However, now Powell is reaching his peak just as Dallas goes barreling into the postseason with home-court advantage for the first time in years. His 22 points against Giannis and the Bucks in absence of Maxi Kleber certainly has to be considered his best game of the season. It couldn’t come at a better time.
Saddiq Bey, chaos agent
As mentioned, at this point in the season, the fortunes of the Detroit Pistons seem to be singularly entwined with the play of Saddiq Bey. They’re 5-5 over their last 10 games, and in wins, Bey is shooting 51% from the field and a somehow even better 53% from three in the service of scoring an average of 23 points. It wasn’t too long ago that Bey put up 51 points in a win against Orlando.
In the five losses over that same 10-game span, he’s looking at a much more pedestrian 16 points on just 40% shooting and 29% from three. It stands to reason that making sure Bey is having a bad night will go a long way to leaving Detroit with a win. With Maxi Kleber out of commission for a second straight game due to a bad ankle, Dallas will need another big defensive effort from Dorian Finney-Smith to make sure Bey is kept in check.
Chin Up, Reggie
On Friday, the University of North Carolina fell to the University of Kansas in the NCAA Championship game. No doubt, a psychic blow to the UNC alums and current Dallas Mavericks who were in attendance, Reggie Bullock and Theo Pinson.
It begs the question: can a player have a bounce-back game as a result of a game he didn’t even play in? Never mind that Dallas is coming off a great win against Milwaukee. For his part, Luka Doncic hasn’t let not attending an American college stop him from trash-talking teammates, namely Jalen Brunson, as their alma maters fell out of the tournament. There’s little doubt he’ll be in the ear of Bullock about the painful UNC loss, so let’s hope Reggie channels that pain into a big game on Wednesday.
How to watch
You can watch the broadcast on Bally Sports Southwest at 6 p.m. CST.
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Here’s our latest Moneyball Minute podcast episode, a quick roundup of all things Mavericks from around the internet. Click here, press play on the embed below, or go find the Mavs Moneyball podcast feed on your favorite player.