3 important takeaways from Dallas Mavericks loss to shorthanded Nuggets

Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Takeaway from Dallas Mavericks loss to Nuggets: 2. Lacking rim protection

The Mavs are one of the league’s best defenses for the second straight year, but they still struggle to protect the rim. Denver was without Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon on Sunday night, and the Nuggets needed everybody that was healthy to step up. They got too many easy buckets inside at the American Airlines Center, and it started with Bones Hyland.

The 6’2 guard was blowing past defenders and creating open looks for his teammates as he went for 29 points on Sunday night. Dallas struggled to shut him down, but overall the Nuggets finished with 42 points in the paint. There were just too many easy buckets inside for the shorthanded Nuggets.

The Mavs signed JaVale McGee to improve their rim protection, but the seven-footer has struggled in the early going. He played well on Friday night against Denver, and McGee gave Dallas solid minutes on Sunday, but he was only on the floor for 11. Maxi Kleber missed his third straight game, so the Mavericks did not have a rim protector on the floor when McGee was on the bench.

Dallas needs to do a better job at limiting penetration. It got the Nuggets' offense on track on Sunday night, and the Mavs need to solve the issue before the postseason. Keep an eye on the team’s rim protection. They have struggled thus far, and it could be an area the front office attempts to address before the trade deadline.