Dallas Mavericks fall to Philadelphia 76ers 120-114 in Shanghai
By Sean Bush
The Dallas Mavericks fell short Friday morning against the Philadelphia 76ers, but there were many positives to take away.
The story of the game going into Friday was always can Luka Doncic hold up against NBA athletes? Well, Dallas Mavericks fans can officially be excited without reservation about the Slovenian wonder-boy.
A box score may not do Doncic justice. He produced 11 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals, two blocks, and four turnovers on four of 11 from the field. Luka missed all four of his 3-point attempts. Doncic clearly had a major impact on the game. He easily could have scored six or seven more points if he hit some makeable shots.
Many believed that his athleticism would prevent him from being able to get by defenders on offense and to stay in front of players on defense.
Doncic showed that defining a player by quickness is an overly-simplistic approach. Size, strength, body control, play style, understanding of team concepts, instincts, basketball IQ, and effort all can and will compensate for what Doncic lacks in lateral foot speed.
Despite only recording three assists, he put on a clinic passing the ball. He should have recorded six or seven if teammates were converting the open looks he created for them.
He not only survived on defense, but Doncic played excellent defense stifling Dario Saric all game and picking up two blocks and three steals.
Simply put, Doncic has star potential and his chemistry with Dennis Smith Jr. has looked great through two games.
DSJ shoots well
Speaking of Junior, the second-year guard had another encouraging game. He scored 17 of his 20 points in the first quarter and added five rebounds and five assists.
He appears very comfortable playing with Doncic and it is elevating his game, not hindering it. He hit three deep balls and a couple of pull-up jumpers, those two things are the key to his development going forward.
Kleber stands out
Maxi Kleber is making a strong case to play significant minutes this season. Some Mavs writers had begun to peg Kleber as the odd man out in the rotation, but he looks rejuvenated. Kleber has been one of the best players on the team through two preseason games.
He finished with 17 points, seven rebound, and four blocks. His shot looks much better. He clearly emphasized increasing his shot arch this offseason.
Kleber was the team’s best defender tonight. His ability to play and guard centers or power forwards make him a valuable piece going forward.
Brunson looking solid
Jalen Brunson shined in his short stint recording nine points and two steals in just 10 minutes. He looks very savvy for a rookie, don’t be surprised to see his minutes steadily climb as the season wears on.
A look at the Sixers
For the 76ers, it was mostly the usual suspects. Joel Embiid looked like an unstoppable force at times on his way to 22 points and 10 rebounds. Ben Simmons almost posted a triple-double. He had nine points, nine rebounds, ten assists, and showed why he’s a legit All-Defense candidate. J.J. Redick couldn’t miss, he literally didn’t miss, going ten of ten from the floor for 28 points.
They did have one especially pleasant surprise in Landry Shamet. The rookie from Wichita State looks like he could have a long career in this league if he can continue to play like he did tonight. Shamet scored 18 points in 24 minutes and did everything in a way that looked effortless and natural.
All in all, this was a very positive showing for the Mavericks. They almost beat one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference without DeAndre Jordan, Harrison Barnes, or Dirk Nowitzki. Yes, it was a preseason game, but both teams played their regular rotation up until most of the final period.
If the boys in blue who played tonight can give that type of performance game in and game out, the playoffs might be less of a lofty dream and more of a realistic goal.