Another pathetic loss for the Dallas Mavericks turns a promising start into a question of whether it is time for the team to take a step back and process where they are going this season.
Say what you want about the Dallas Mavericks impressive first six games of the season. The team looked good and ready to take on the world. For the past five games, however, bad teams have been able to routinely expose the Mavs weaknesses and have given us a chance to see if the team can play at their best no matter who the opponent is.
Unfortunately, they have shown that they cannot do that. Dallas has a long history of playing to the level of their opponents, and there has maybe never been a more obvious instance of it than the last two meetings with the New York Knicks.
The Mavs fell to the widely considered worst team in the league last night for the second time in less than a week. Did the Knicks play the best basketball they have played all season in both games? Definitely. Should that matter to a potential playoff team? Absolutely not.
This is not to say that the Mavs can’t get back to playoff level contention. After the first loss to the Knicks, I thought it would wake the team up and remind them that they can’t just show up and expect a win. With a second loss to the same team, my concern grows that they just don’t realize how good they can be.
It has been a rare occurrence so far this year when Luka Doncic and the Mavs three-point shooting have come together harmoniously. In fact, I would say that has only happened twice so far this year against the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Memphis Grizzlies. Those are also the Mavs only two blowout wins on the season so far.
Dallas’ mentality of live and die by the three has been concerning up to this point. It is not a weird strategy as there are some teams that have had a lot of success with it, but when the Mavs two best players are more effective in the post, that three point shooting needs to be coming more primarily from the supporting cast. It hasn’t come from them as of late.
The biggest issue I took away from the Mavs loss last night was that the rotations that were used slowed the offense down instead of moving it along. Luka scored 15 straight points to end the third quarter, along with a Kristaps Porzingis dunk, with the game tied. This completed a comeback of a 10-point deficit in just minutes.
To start the fourth quarter, the Mavs rolled out the entire bench unit that had played in the game. Up to that point in the game, that unit had combined for 17 total points and no one was in double-digits or shooting the ball particularly well. The Mavs got lucky that they Knicks also couldn’t find the bottom of the net at first, but we still had to watch 6 minutes of the bench unit struggling and scoring only 8 points in that stretch.
The real travesty, unfortunately, was that the 6 minute rest completely stagnated Luka and KP on the offensive end who combined for only two points in that final stretch, and those two were on an uncontested layup with only seconds left on the clock. Dallas scored a total of 16 points in the fourth and lost by three.
This game was not a good scene for Dallas who really could have used this win for morale. The team is plenty talented and should be winning games, but things need to change in the minute distribution or maybe just the overall play of everyone not named Luka.