Most of the attention from Sunday night’s historic Game 7 between the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns has been (rightfully) focused on Luka Doncic, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton. For three of those four guys, the attention has largely been negative, while one guy is getting a lot of due praise. I’ll let you figure out who’s who. But there’s one player who isn’t getting quite as much love as he deserves. He’s definitely getting some, but he deserves more. Let’s give Spencer Dinwiddie his flowers. The man just played the best basketball game of his career.
That’s right. Sunday night’s Game 7 performance was the best game of Spencer Dinwiddie’s career.
NBA fans knew what Luka Doncic was going to do in Game 7. I mean, we didn’t know exactly what he’d do, but we knew he’d show up. He always shows up for the moment. He was born for it. If the Mavs wanted to win Game 7, though, they would need another guy to show up. They would need someone to exceed expectations.
Dorian Finney-Smith, Reggie Bullock, and Maxi Kleber weren’t pouring in threes. Normally that means the Mavs would be in trouble. But Spencer Dinwiddie came off the bench wearing his Superman cape. He finished the night with 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the field, 5-of-7 from deep, and 3-of-3 from the free-throw line to go along with three rebounds, two assists, one block, one steal, and no turnovers. He was +29 in only 25 minutes of action.
The raw numbers might not be his best ever. For example, he had 41 points in a December game back in 2019, and he had 26 points and 14 assists in a January game in 2020. Those numbers are going to be better for fantasy basketball purposes, but those games can’t compare to Sunday’s Game 7.
Sunday was the most important day of basketball to date for this NBA season. You could make an argument that whoever won both Game 7’s between the Mavs-Suns and Celtics-Bucks would go on to be the two teams that meet in the Finals. By the time the Mavs-Suns game rolled around, we knew the result of the Bucks-Celtics matchup, meaning the only mystery team to make the Conference Finals was about to be decided.
Against the Suns, Dinwiddie got whatever he wanted. He attacked mismatches by blowing by defenders and getting to the rim, he scored in the midrange, and he was canning threes left and right (one of his misses was nearly a half-court heave at the buzzer so he was more like 5-of-6 from three).
Watch how he gets Bismack Biyombo to switch onto him and then rocks him to sleep before turning on the jets and finishing at the rim, extending the Mavs lead to 12 near the end of the first quarter:
Dinwiddie did a nice job of keeping his defenders guessing in Game 7. Just when they think they figured him out, he’d switch up his finishing moves. Watch below as this time, he rocks Deandre Ayton to sleep and then hits a step back in his face, instead of taking him to the rim.
What that short clip doesn’t show is that Dinwiddie got the defensive rebound, saw Ayton was the guy who picked him up in transition and then dribbled the ball for a full 24 seconds, keeping Ayton in his stance for the entire shot clock before dotting one in his eye. It was rude. It was awesome.
The questions surrounding Dinwiddie’s game prior to coming to Dallas were largely about whether he would fit in or not. There were some well-documented issues in D.C., which each day starts to look more and more like a Wizards problem (go figure). And he’s had a little history as a shot-chucker. My main concern with Dinwiddie was the potential of him ever waiving off Luka in a big moment to take his guy one-on-one.
Since coming to Dallas, Dinwiddie has played his role to perfection. He’s been happy coming off the bench. He defers when other guys have better opportunities. He’s aggressive when he needs to be. Sure, sometimes he has bad shooting days, but that’s just part of the game. His ability to adapt to his role has been what impressed me most.
In Game 7 against the Suns, Dinwiddie turned that irrational confidence meter up and went berserk — which is exactly what the Mavericks needed. To beat the best team in the league on their home court in a Game 7, you have to have guys who believe they’re the baddest dudes on the court. Dinwiddie has never doubted himself in that respect. He’s just learned to channel it.
Luka Doncic is always the Mavericks MVP, but on Sunday, Dinwiddie was the X factor. It’s time the man gets the credit he deserves. Dallas is better with him than they were without him, and it’s really not even close.
Here’s our latest Moneyball Minute. If you can’t see the embed below, go search Mavs Moneyball Podcast to find out feed. Here’s the link again. Lots of shows the past few days.