If there’s been one thing that is absolutely true during the Luka Doncic era, it’s this: if the Mavericks role players make their open shots created by Doncic, they’ll win. Sometimes, they’ll win big.
Well, the Mavericks role players made their shots Wednesday night in Detroit and the Mavericks won — big. Dallas defeated the Detroit Pistons 131-113 behind a masterful shooting performance team-wide. Luka Doncic conducted the show with 14 assists (while also casually scoring 26 points, if such a thing exists).
The Pistons were feisty all evening, but the Mavericks offense never slowed down from opening tip to final buzzer. Dallas now has its first 50 win season since 2015. If the Mavericks win at least one of their final two games, it’ll be the most wins in a season since 2011.
The Mavericks role players were on fire
How many times this season has Luka Doncic been the one to tank the Mavericks three point shooting? Well, tanked is a strong word — the team shot 15-of-33 (45.5) percent despite Doncic’s 2-of-11 mark.
That just means every single non-Doncic Maverick was on one. The Mavericks role players shot a blistering 13-of-22 from three, with four non-Doncic Mavericks making at least two three pointers and three of those four making at least three. Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock, Davis Bertans, and Josh Green combined to go 11-of-18 from three.
Doncic finished with 14 assists and he was absolutely on one tonight, throwing dimes to every corner and setting up the Mavericks shooters brilliantly. This type of thing can happen more often if the Mavericks can be more consistent from three, which thankfully the team has been over the last two weeks.
Outside of the three point shooting, the Mavericks role players were still excellent, as the team scored 54 points in the paint. Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie didn’t contribute to the three point explosion but both were excellent in their own right, scoring 24 and 13 points, respectively.
Josh Green did things!
The Mavericks second year forward has had a somewhat steady spot in the rotation, which is all you can really ask for after his difficult rookie season. Mavericks coach Jason Kidd keeps saying the right things to reporters after games, praising Green for his contributions and telling him to stay confident despite mistakes.
Green rewarded the Mavericks coaching staff with a really solid performance: 12 points, seven rebounds, two steals and one assist in 21 minutes. Green made two (2!) three pointers (and had zero hesitation on all three of his attempts) and created chaos on the defensive end with a couple steals and multiple deflections. The qualifier is that this is of course a tanking Pistons team, so we’ll have to see what Green can do in the playoffs, but regardless of opponent it’s just nice to see Green play well.
The best Mavericks season in over 10 years
Understatement of the century, but Mavericks fans haven’t had a ton to cheer for since the team won the NBA championship in 2011. Lots of failed offseasons, early playoff exits, and even a brief rebuilding spell meant lots of difficult endings to seasons in the last 10 years.
So for this Mavericks team to get to 50 wins, with a chance for more, is really exciting. This is far and away the most successful and fun team the Mavericks have had since that title team and Mavericks fans patience is being rewarded. Even if the Mavericks stick at 50 wins, this will still be more fun than the previous 50-win team, which limped into the playoffs after the disastorious Rajon Rondo trade.
This is all pretty remarkable considering not that long ago, the Mavericks were two games under .500 with no Luka Doncic for an extended period due to an ankle injury and half the rotation out with another COVID outbreak. It wouldn’t have been crazy for the Mavericks season to just derail at that moment, but instead the replacement Mavericks held the fort down and Doncic came back looking like his All-NBA self to propel Dallas to a torrid run since the calendar flipped to 2022. It’s been a joy to watch and despite my major trepidations with the Mavericks decisions around their coaching staff last summer, I can say that, as of right now, I was totally wrong on the Jason Kidd hire from a basketball point of view. I don’t know how far this team can go, but they are fun to watch and they compete about as hard as you can ask for.
Hopefully the Mavericks can end the playoff winning drought, because this team has done just about everything else in the regular season to get fans excited and give them something to cheer for. What a season and it’s not over yet!
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.