The Dallas Mavericks lost to the Indiana Pacers 109-92 on Friday night. They ruled out superstar Luka Doncic before tipoff with a back injury. Fans should not be concerned as the 22-year-old is traveling with the team to New Orleans and is hoping to face the Pelicans in the second game of the back-to-back. The Mavs missed Doncic in their March 26 loss, though.
Luka is the team’s unquestioned lead ball-handler. He tops the NBA in time of possession and is fourth in touches per game. The 22-year-old is an incredible playmaker. He led the Mavericks to the highest offensive rating in NBA history last season, but Dallas might benefit from adding someone that can take the ball out of his hands a bit.
That need shined through on Friday night. The Mavs struggled mightily with Doncic on the sidelines. Kristaps Porzingis stepped up and had a monster 31-point and 18-rebound night, but it was not enough. Here is a look at why Dallas needs another playmaker.
Dallas Mavericks need for a playmaker shows in loss to Indiana Pacers
The Mavs sit 26th in the NBA by producing 22.8 assists per game this season as Luka averages 9.1 a night. The ball can get sticky without Doncic on the floor, and it did for extended stretches on March 26. Dallas was short-handed against the Pacers. Willie Cauley-Stein, Tyrell Terry, and the Mavericks’ two new additions from their deadline deal were all out with Luka, but the lack of ball movement shined through in a few key stats.
Dallas had just 17 assists against the Pacers with no player producing more than three. They were just 38 of 94 shooting from the field and an atrocious eight of 35 from 3-point range. Doncic creates more wide open threes than any player in the league, but the Mavericks had to settle for contested looks without him. The ball was just not moving on Friday night as they struggled to create easy shots.
If the Mavs had a secondary playmaker that could play off Luka, they would be better suited to win without their superstar. It is one of the reasons Dallas targeted Kemba Walker in the 2019 offseason. The Mavericks are projected to have cap space this summer. It will be interesting to see if they attempt to sign another capable ball-handler and playmaker.
Jalen Brunson will be a backup point guard in the NBA for the next decade-plus. He can run the offense and knows how to make winning plays, but his ideal role is playing 20-25 minutes per night as a secondary creator. JB had an off night against the Pacers. He finished with ten points, four rebounds, and two assists in 34 minutes. The Mavs needed more from their fill-in starter at point guard.
The Dallas Mavericks will not have to wait long for the chance to bounce back. They play the Pelicans in New Orleans on Saturday night. Stay tuned for updates on Luka Doncic’s status heading into the game and everything fans need to know about the Mavs.