The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Detroit Pistons 111-105, behind a vintage Luka Doncic performance. He scored 53 points, nearly half the team’s output, and fended off the team’s old playoff foe Bojan Bogdanovic and the young Pistons.
Here are the stats we noticed.
46, and under 46.
At the end of the third quarter, Luka Doncic had 46 points, which was more than the rest of the team combined. I wish I had ESPN Stats and Info at my command, because that could be the only time it’s been done this season.
Luka seeing Bojan be that good tonight (more on that later) must leave him very frustrated as the rest of his team struggles to create good shots for themselves. With Christian Wood out, that leaves Spencer Dinwiddie as the only self-creator. Tim Hardaway Jr. tries, but is really only a positive player as an off-ball gunner, which he’s quite good at. When Dinwiddie is cold, you have a result like this. While I am biased, and believe in the idea that an MVP should usually represent one of teams that defined the season, what Luka did tonight seems the definition of valuable.
Bojan Bogdanovic's scoring total, and honestly it felt like more. He’s just so versatile in how he gets his points–drives, step backs, coming off screens, and getting into the mid-post for fadeaways. The ease of it might be why it felt like he scored more – he knows his own game and rarely can’t find his own comfort zone for shots. He feels like one of the more unheralded players in the league scoring twenty points per game. It would obviously help the Mavericks, and other Mavericks starters were only able to outscore him by one point (a little mini-stat within the stat for you.)
By the end of the game, he was going mano-a-mano with Luka himself, trading shots. Although reports are that the Pistons will keep him, it felt like a trade deadline showcase.
Single game plus/minus is a flawed stat. For proof, just look at the fact that Luka was only a plus-eight compared to Josh Green, who had the highest on the team. He’s still a more flawed player than some Mavs’ fans want to recognize, whether it’s a reticence to shoot or how scary his handle and decision making still are. Yet, he just makes plays and brings pressure to the other teams offense and ball handlers that no one else can. He cuts, passes off those cuts, and connects Luka’s passes to the rest of the team.
He’s still very much a role player, but he’s a role player filling a role the Mavericks desperately need. Even if he doesn’t play starter minutes, I think it would be fruitful to put him on the other team’s ball handler to start games unless it’s a large wing. Energy from the tip has been an issue, and it could help rectify that. There’s a casualness to defense early in these games until the Mavericks realize they need stops, and his urgency’s impact is clear the moment he hits the floor.
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