It was a much, MUCH needed win for Dallas, who had been struggling to string together wins in the Kyrie-Luka era. This game can’t make up for the 1-4 record Doncic and Irving put together leading into this game, but they can only win ‘em back one game at a time.
Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving provided the one-two punch that many were expecting to see from the new backcourt mates, putting up 42 and 40 points, respectively. They were helped by Reggie Bullock’s 15 points on his 5-of-10 night from three.
It was enough to overcome a big night from Joel Embiid and his 35 points, as well as a double-double from James Harden who had 27 points and 13 assists.
The third quarter is for 3s
The scoring pace through the first half wasn’t exactly slow on either side. The score going to halftime was 71-67 in favor of Dallas. However, in the third quarter, the Mavericks took that four-point lead and inflated it all the way to 25. Their lead was 19 at the end of the frame.
The barrage came in the form of nine made threes, including Reggie Bullock going a perfect 3-for-3 and Maxi Kleber hitting 2-of-2. Coach Jason Kidd can preach defense all he wants, but when the offense is humming as it did for Dallas in the third — the platonic ideal of their offense — not much else matters. At least until…
I guess this is growing up?
Just when it looked like Dallas might never miss another shot again, the faucet went bone dry, and Philly opened the fourth with a 17-0 run. With the specter of the 27-point choke job against the Lakers starting to swirl inside the arena as their 25-point lead shriveled to just four with over nine minutes to play, Dallas got itself together.
After the Laker’s loss, Kidd said the team needed to “grow up.” In an ideal world, a team wouldn’t have to prove they have what it takes to hold a 25-plus point lead. A merely competent defensive showing should do. Alas.
Dallas did enough down the stretch to prevent the game from getting too close by outscoring the 76ers 23-20 the rest of the way (though they did let it dip to a fivepoint lead, just to pad those clutch-game stats).
Is this going to be forever?
In a sense, the most important stat is the final score, and Dallas came out on top in this one, so there’s only so much hand-wringing to do. Though, all those issues that plagued the Mavericks as they were stacking up Ls remain.
This was another game where Dallas gave up 60 points in the paint. With Embiid getting the game-time green light, that’s to be expected to a degree, but still, it’s an ongoing point of concern. Especially as, by and large, this nine-man rotation Kidd leaned on is the most likely rotation come playoff time.
The defense as a whole — allowing the 76ers to shoot 57% from the floor and 44% from three — didn’t show much improvement even if the final outcome did. The defense of the AAC’s roof, which managed no leaks (!) through the storm that blew through town, has shown vastly more improvement on the defensive side than the basketball team that plays inside.
You can listen to our latest podcast episode in the player embedded below, and to make sure you don’t miss a single one moving forward, subscribe to the Mavs Moneyball podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, Pocketcasts, or Castbox.
You can check our our After Dark Recap podcasts, Spotify Live recordings, Moneyball Minute shows, and guest shows on the Mavs Moneyball Podcast feed. Please subscribe, rate, and review.