The Dallas Mavericks dropped a heartbreaking game to the San Antonio Spurs on April 11. Luka Doncic had 29 points, and Kristaps Porzingis produced one of his best games of the season, but it was not enough. DeMar DeRozan nailed a game-winner to lift the Spurs to a 119-117 victory at the American Airlines Center.
The Spurs’ final shot came into question as the Mavs decided to let Dorian Finney-Smith guard DeRozan one-on-one without double teaming. It was no secret that San Antonio was going to their star player. He nailed the game-winning mid-range jumper to lift the Spurs, but should Dallas have forced the ball out of his hands?
The Mavericks thought about it during the timeout and decided against it. Was that the correct decision? What can Dallas learn from DeRozan’s game-winner on Sunday night? Let us take a closer look.
Should the Dallas Mavericks have doubled DeMar DeRozan on his game-winner?
Here is the final play if fans can stomach watching it again. DeRozan isolates on the left side of the floor after taking a screen from Derrick White. The Spurs were hoping Luka would switch on DeRozan, but Dallas kept Dorian Finney-Smith on the Spurs star. DeMar drilled the step back game-winner anyways.https://videos.nba.com/nba/pbp/media/2021/04/11/0022000810/639/b0410a14-e0d5-b8fd-fe50-86eb8dd22d2d_1280x720.mp4
DeRozan had a monster 27-point second half against the Mavericks. He was on fire and is one of the best scorers in the league in isolation. The Mavericks should have double-teamed him on the final play. Derrick White is shooting just 32.6 percent from 3-point range on the season. Doncic could have doubled on DeRozan and forced him to pass out to White.
Coach Rick Carlisle had this to say after the game about not double-teaming DeRozan on the Spurs’ final shot, courtesy of Tim MacMahon.
Dallas needed Luka to double team in that scenario. They did not want to leave Dejounte Murray open in the corner. Rudy Gay and Patty Mills are both outstanding 3-point shooters. The Mavs could have left Derrick White and forced him to sink the game-winner.
It did not happen on Sunday night, but the Mavericks should have learned a lesson. There are a plethora of close and difficult games remaining, especially if Dallas plans on making a deep playoff run. They need to sort out their defense on plays like this. The Mavs should have doubled DeRozan and force someone else to beat them.
Other teams do it to Dallas. Fans have seen Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Maxi Kleber sink multiple clutch shots this season because the opposition doubled Luka Doncic. It is playing the percentages in many ways.
Hopefully, Sunday’s loss to the rival San Antonio Spurs was a learning experience for the Dallas Mavericks. It was a difficult one, but they are still only 1.5 games out of sixth in the Western Conference. The Mavs can still move up and avoid the play-in. They need to win close games down the stretch. It will be interesting to see how Dallas plays this situation going forward, so stay tuned.