With the 2022-23 NBA regular season in the rearview mirror for the Dallas Mavericks (how odd it is to type that in the first half of April on a team that has Luka Doncic), we wanted to try to look back fondly at parts of it. Here’s what our team thought the best moment was in the season:
Ben: It has to be Luka Doncic’s 60 point triple-double in a late December game against the New York Knicks. Sure, it shouldn’t have taken such a monster performance by Doncic to beat a mid-tier playoff team, but that doesn’t matter now. Putting up 60 points was incredible, but even more impressive, he had 21 rebounds. We complain about Doncic’s motor and endurance a lot, but in that game, he left it all on the floor. I haven’t seen many players have a game like that, and it’ll probably be the one good thing from this season that I remember.
Josh: Cynically, I could easily say the game against the Chicago Bulls that finally eliminated the Mavericks from post-season contention, if only because it was the nail in the coffin for a season that truly was miserable at times to experience and cover as a media member. Knowing I could turn my brain off from this tortured season was some sweet relief. But the season was already bad enough, so I’ll go with a better time.
The Mavericks win against the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 11. It was Kyrie Irving’s second game with the Mavericks and Dallas’ third win straight win since the trade was completed. It felt like the trade was a winner, with Kyrie and a rejuvenated Mavericks team winning and looking fun, and that was with Luka Doncic still injured. It felt like the Mavericks were on an upward trajectory to save their season once again. Unfortunately, that would be perhaps the last time Mavericks fans felt good about the team. Dallas lost five of its next six and never recovered. Those three games were fun, though.
Doyle: My son was born in early April. During a one-on-one interview with Dorian Finney-Smith in December, I asked the father of three if he had any words of wisdom for a soon-to-be new dad like me. He gave me a sound piece of advice and wished me well before heading back into the locker room. That was definitely my high point.
Matthew: The Mavericks’ second game of the season was the high point. The Mavericks won the game by 41 points after having lost the first game by 2 points in a collapse that could easily be attributed to falling asleep after destroying the Phoenix Suns for six consecutive quarters. Luka Doncic looked to be in the best shape of his life and absolutely dialed in. Christian Wood was displaying potentially game-changing playmaking and scoring from a forward. A foolish blogger(me) even predicted that the Mavericks would win 60 games and set the NBA offensive record in the process. Hope springs eternal early in the season, and the Mavericks had not yet succumbed to the drudgery that would mire this season.
Brent: I had the chance to witness the concurrent agony and splendor of the post-trade Mavs when the Timberwolves came to town on February 13th.
After falling behind early, Christian Wood put together a fantastic scoring burst in the second quarter to prevent Dallas from getting run off the court at halftime. By the end of the third quarter, the prospects of a lopsided finish felt all but certain. The fourth quarter was electric almost completely thanks to Kyrie Irving. The AAC’s first taste of Uncle Drew on the home floor was memorable for two reasons - the phenomenal “get on my back” display of exhilarating drives, flamethrower shooting, and deft passing was a sight to behold. The other reason the ending was memorable was the last possession. Doncic and Irving nearly turned it over then deferred to each other until the horn sounded without getting a shot off.
That game proved Irving could help the Mavericks win, this season and beyond. It also reinforced that Jason Kidd’s laissez-faire approach to critical moments that had plagued Dallas all season was a trend he is clearly incapable of overcoming without an offensive-minded assistant to fill that void left by Igor Kokoškov. The Mavericks need the roster retooled but in year 3 of the Kidd era the coaching staff must add X’s and O’s savvy on the offensive end. Superstar improvisation is great 90% of the time - yet to help buoy a coach who is a self-proclaimed spectator in clutch moments the Mavs better dust off the Help Wanted sign for the right brand of assistant or we will see more of the same next season no matter who the players are in blue.
Matt: Hard not to agree with Ben - The Luka stat line alone made it memorable, but the way he and the team pulled out the win was something else. Dallas had already sustained some miserable losses early in the season, like the opening night L to the Suns after building a 22-point lead and choking away a 16-point fourth-quarter lead to the Thunder. (“shit happens,” head coach Jason Kidd said after the game. Lovely.) So the win against the Knicks, coming back from a nine-point deficit in 44 seconds because of a perfectly executed missed free throw from Doncic... well, it felt like some of that “magic” was back. It felt like an inflection point. Alas. Pretty cool at the time, though.
Kirk: The December 21st win over the Wolves was it for me. Dallas had just lost two days prior to the same Wolves; Doncic was kicked out and ended a long streak of a certain number of points in consecutive games and Dallas fell under .500 again. The win on the 21st started the fun (and ultimately fake) win streak, but we didn’t know that then. It was just fun, which is the whole point.