Three Takeaways from Dallas’ 90-97 Loss to Boston

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 6: Dennis Smith Jr.
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 6: Dennis Smith Jr. /

The Dallas Mavericks fell to the Boston Celtics 97-90 in Boston Wednesday night. This loss was the first of a three game road trip for the Mavericks.

Kyrie and Co. did just enough to pull away from the Mavericks late in the 4th quarter.

The game was close for the entirety of the game with both teams struggling to find their shot. Dallas actually held a ten point lead at the half (their largest lead of the game was twelve) but was unable to pull out the victory down the stretch.

Despite the loss, this game was still an important step in the right direction for the Mavericks.

The Celtics have the best record in the league and Dallas did a great job of holding their own for 48 straight minutes. When the younger players on this team finally learn how to secure close games, the Mavericks will become a problem for the league. Below I have three important takeaways for Dallas that can be taken away from this game:

The Maxi Kleber Show

It’s Maxi Kleber’s world and we’re all just living in it. The Dallas Mavericks may just have something in the rookie power forward from Wurzburg, Germany. Kleber started in his 10th game this season, all in a row, and brought the energy on the glass and on defense that this team can sorely lack at times.

Maxi played like a man possessed tonight. The two tweets below show him swatting all three of the Boston Celtics centers in the 1st quarter tonight. These three blocks are incredibly difficult to pull off without committing a foul, an encouraging sign in Kleber’s development.

The rookie posted 4 blocks and a steal before halftime, he was a menace on the defensive end early in the game. Kleber was Dallas’ most important big man tonight having a significant impact on both ends of the floor. He finished with 13 PTS 5 REB 5 BLK and 1 STL in 27 minutes of action. His inspired play was a major contributor to the Mavericks hanging tough with the team with the best record in the league.

Dennis Smith Jr. is Still a Rookie

The other Dallas rookie did not have his best game tonight, struggling to find a shooting rhythm and making ill-advised decisions. He actually started the game out strong scoring 7 of the Mavericks first 17 points but things seemed to go south from there. Kyrie Irving exposed Junior’s defense on a few occasions. Dennis Smith did not appear to have any answer for Uncle Drew on the defensive end.

BOSTON, MA – DECEMBER 6: Dennis Smith Jr.
BOSTON, MA – DECEMBER 6: Dennis Smith Jr. /

Dennis Smith Jr. looked more and more visibly frustrated out there as the game wore on. He appeared very upset with himself after getting subbed out by Rick Carlisle following a turnover with around 2:00 left in the 4th quarter. He ended up finishing with 12 PTS 6 REB and 2 STL on only 4-16 shooting. These games happen for every rookie and are just part of the adjustment period to the increased speed and size of the NBA. Smith will be just fine.

More from The Smoking Cuban

Harrison Barnes is a Workhorse

Harrison Barnes doesn’t seem to get enough credit for his consistently great play for the Dallas Mavericks. Tonight was no exception as Barnes was clearly the best player on the floor for the Mavs once again. It is such an asset to have a guy like him who can always get you a solid shot out of an isolation situation.

Barnes continued his recent streak of improved rebounding pulling down ten boards in tonight’s game. Barnes has averaged 9.1 RPG over the last 13 games, this is well above his career average of 4.9 RPG. This is an important aspect of Barnes’ game going forward if the team wants his transition to the power forward position to be successful.

Next: Nine Teams that Could Trade for Nerlens Noel

That’s just what the 25-year-old forward does though, he locates the flaws in his game and puts in the work necessary to shore them up.

He spent his last offseason focusing on rebounding and drawing more fouls and he has shown significant improvement in both areas this season. Harrison Barnes may not always get the appreciation he deserves from the media, but he is unquestionably the Dallas Mavericks best player.