Dallas, once again, ends with a losing week. A home loss to the Wizards set the tone, and while Dallas bounced back against Phoenix, they were not enough to overcome Utah in Salt Lake City. Luka Doncic sprained his ankle in the first quarter against the Suns, so Dallas has been without him for, effectively, two games. His timetable for return is unclear, but he is listed as day-to-day.
Team Grade: C
Dallas’ defense is putrid. Their late-game execution continues to be predictable and inefficient. They have their three most important players in street clothes currently, and their consistency as a team has yet to be established. And yet, even after starting the new year 5-9, their season is not lost.
Losing to Washington at home without Kristaps Porzingis was embarrassing. The game should not have even been left to chance in the fourth quarter. They had an opportunity to take a sizeable lead into halftime, and instead gave up a 12-1 run to close the second quarter, which left them behind the eight ball at the break. The final possession was what Mavericks basketball has been all year: predictable and poorly planned.
Jason Kidd said this about drawing up their inbounds play for a potential against the Wizards:
I asked Jason Kidd about the Mavericks’ final possession. He explained the intent was to force the double team to create an open look for Spencer Dinwiddie, but they couldn’t connect on the pass.— Grant Afseth (@GrantAfseth) January 25, 2023
There were 5 seconds to go when Dallas inbounded the ball, so if you take out the fact that designing an inbounds play to create a double team is asinine, that Kidd opted for a slower developing play over a quick hitter is a crime in and of itself. The Mavericks have been poorly coached in a lot of facets, but perhaps late-game situations have been the area of the most neglect.
Beating the Suns in Phoenix was fantastic. The team rallied around the loss of Luka Doncic and played their tails off. It helped that Phoenix’s offense was out of sync (to say the least), but they had to make winning plays nonetheless. The Jazz offense is far less frantic, and without Doncic or Christian Wood, beating them on the road is just too tall of a task.
The parity of the West means a two or three game slip could put you out of the playoffs, but the flip side of that coin is that you’re never more than 2 games removed from avoiding the play-in. Despite Dallas’ immense struggles, there is no reason to panic with the trade deadline coming up. They will get Doncic, Wood, and hopefully Kleber back during the home stretch, and should play the season out in hopes of winning a playoff series with the guys they have.
Straight A’s: Spencer Dinwiddie
Spencer Dinwiddie (offensively), has been great for Dallas this year. He can give you 30 points and six assists on any given night, and without Doncic in the lineup, has done just that in the last two games.
He kept Dallas connected against Utah, and lead Dallas’ winning effort in Phoenix. Dinwiddie received blowback for his “not playing winning basketball” comments about the Wizards following the loss, but they at least showed he cares. Saying something like that about a team that just beat you means you’re upset, and although Dinwiddie has his deficiencies, he cares about winning. He has been Dallas’ most consistent player (outside of Luka Doncic) in an incredibly up-and-down year.
Failing Miserably: Dallas without Doncic
The Mavericks now fall to 0-6 without Luka Doncic in the lineup this year. Despite what the Phoenix game told us, they are not a more fluid team without him, they just have a different head of the snake. The constant underperforming of the supporting cast has been a storyline all year, and without their MVP candidate on the floor, they look as bad as they ever have. This team is not built to win without health, and with Dallas currently riddled by injury, the losses are sure to keep piling in.
Extra Credit: Kyle Kuzma
After a press conference in which Spencer Dinwiddie called out his former team, Kyle Kuzma responded with this:
The funny thing is they don’t play winning basketball ✌ ✌ ✌ https://t.co/O4klCwulLG— kuz (@kylekuzma) January 25, 2023
Dallas being owned by Kyle Kuzma was not a storyline I had marked down to look for this year, but it has now become one of the more entertaining anecdotes from this season.