Mavericks rookie unlocks new trait in game that will take team to next level

Dallas Mavericks, Dereck Lively II
Dallas Mavericks, Dereck Lively II / Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the door seemingly looking closed on the Dallas Mavericks’ chances to win an NBA Championship this year after going down 3-0 in the NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics, the Mavericks were able to completely flip the script in a win-or-go-home Game 4 on Friday night, as the Mavericks played one of their best games of the season from top to bottom en route to a 38-point victory.

The Mavericks looked like a totally different team in Game 4 than they have all series, as the Mavericks’ poise and defensive intensity were far more emblematic of some of Dallas’ postseason victories leading up to the Finals compared to their first three games against the Celtics.

It seemed like Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving would have to pull off some miraculous performance in Game 4 to even have a shot in the dark against the Celtics, but the duo combined for 50 points on 22-44 shooting from the field in Game 4, an efficient effort to say the least, but far from the greatest game the dynamic tandem have played together. Irving and Doncic shot an abysmal 1-14 from 3-point range last night as well, but it didn’t matter because nearly all of Dallas’ role players stepped up defensively and on a shooting front.

Dereck Lively II's 3-point shooting will take team to next level

One of the more impressive performances out of anyone on Dallas’ roster last night came from rookie center Dereck Lively II, as the 20-year-old continues to defy expectations the bigger the moment gets despite rough circumstances heading into these playoffs. Lively II looked slightly shell-shocked in Games 1 and 2 in Boston to start the Finals, but he completely reversed order since the series returned to Dallas, as his size and length are making an astronomical difference in this series with Kristaps Porzingis out of the lineup for Boston.

In 22 minutes of action in Game 4, Lively II had 11 points and 12 rebounds on 4-5 shooting from the field, as the rookie was a huge deterrent at the rim for Dallas, a savvy decision maker in the pick-and-roll, as well as a stout presence on the offensive glass.

Lively II’s Tyson Chandler-like performance in Game 4 arguably wasn’t even the most impressive thing he did on the night though, as the rookie center canned an in-rhythm corner 3-pointer off of a designed play shortly after checking into the game in the first quarter.

This was Lively II’s first 3-pointer of his entire NBA career and it couldn’t of came in a more high intensity moment given that it was Game 4 of the NBA Finals, as the shot was the culmination of Lively II diligently putting in work to add the 3-point shot to his arsenal in practice all season.

A few days ago, Lively II teased that the 3-point shot may be a stronghold in his game come next season, something that would unlock another level of dynamism for this Mavericks’ offense, and he couldn’t have followed suit with a more timely shot on the hugest stage he’s played on in his career.

Lively II even commemorated his first NBA 3-pointer toward his late mother, which goes to show the type of character that the Mavericks hope to have hoisting more 3-pointers in the coming years.

For more on Dereck Lively II and the Dallas Mavericks as they head back to Boston for another make-or-break contest in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, stay tuned as we will have you covered.