The Dallas Mavericks fall to their division and in-state rivals the San Antonio Spurs to make it losses in back-to-back nights.
So close. That seems to be the recent theme for the Dallas Mavericks after losing the most clutch games in the NBA last season and now dropping four in a row that were all within reach. Tonight’s overtime loss drops the team’s record to 2-5 heading into their matchup with the Lakers on Wednesday.
Despite the loss, there were plenty of bright spots. Luka Doncic had a career-high 31 points along with eight rebounds, four assists, and a block and steal as well. He did all of this shooting an efficient 11-18 from the field too, although his turnover issues continued with him coughing up the ball six times.
Doncic came out of the half in attack mode. He scored 14 third quarter points and he had this pissed off look on his face like someone just insulted his little sister. This is his team going forward—with all due respect to Dennis Smith Jr.—and him already being comfortable taking over a game and putting the team on his back is an encouraging sign.
Smith added 22 points of his own, Barnes chipped in 18 and seven boards, and DeAndre “The Giant” Jordan scored eight points and swallowed up 18 missed shots.
Turnovers severely plagued the Dallas Mavericks and might have ultimately been the difference tonight. They did a great job of forcing mistakes (17 turnovers from San Antonio), but they could not limit their own surrendering the ball to the Spurs 22 times.
The bench had a pretty lack-luster game as well. Dorian Finney-Smith had a solid performance but the rest of the group was completely outplayed when they were out on the court. This was a surprisingly poor performance from the Mavericks’ super backup big tandem of “Max Power”, Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell. The two combined to shoot 0-5 in 28 total minutes of action.
Matthews is a tremendous leader for this team, but his days as an elite ball-stopper appear to be behind him now. However, do not expect a change from that role anytime soon because of the immense trust Carlisle has in Matthews.
Regardless, it is probably time his late game defensive duties be given to Dorian Finney-Smith at least temporarily for a trial period. Finney-Smith is quicker, stronger, and longer—he may have given DeRozan more issues in the 4th quarter and in overtime.
For Dallas, this was a game that saw Doncic, Smith Jr., Barnes, and Jordan all play very well—that in and of itself is a victory of sorts. These four are the core of the Dallas Mavericks and their future is completely dependent on their chemistry and success. That being said, I’m sure Rick Carlisle wants nothing to do with those moral victories, of course. A loss is a loss is a loss.
The truth is things might not completely come together this season. There was a lot of roster turnover this offseason, the team is running a completely different offensive system than last year, and the Western Conference might just be too damn good. The important thing is that the foundation is clearly there, and that foundation looks pretty freaking strong.
If the Mavericks want to make the playoffs, then they have to start finding ways to win games like tonight. Until then, they’ll continue to be what they are right now— a team loaded with potential that just hasn’t quite put it all together yet.