Dallas Mavericks lost to the Sacramento Kings 133-128 in overtime on Saturday night. It was the first time Luka Doncic played with new teammate Kyrie Irving. The Mavs landed Irving in a blockbuster trade on Feb. 6, but Doncic missed four consecutive games with a heel injury. The Mavs were undefeated in their two games with Kyrie but no Luka, including a win over the Kings on Friday night. Dallas lost the rebounding and turnover battles, which were the difference on Feb. 11.
Fans were excited to see the superstar duo on the floor together, and they got their wish on Saturday night in Sacramento. Luka Doncic finished with 27 points, nine rebounds, and five assists in 41 minutes of action. Kyrie chipped in 28 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists as Dallas split the two games in Sacramento. The Kings held onto third place in the Western Conference, and the winner of the final meeting on April 5 will secure a key tiebreaker.
The Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving pairing has the potential to be something special. Fans have only seen one game, but there was plenty to get excited about on Saturday night. Here are five things fans learned from their first game together.
Thing fans learned from Dallas Mavericks 1st game with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving: 5. Going small
The Mavs reached the conference finals last season by going small and playing a five-out offense. They spaced the floor for Doncic to attack and had plenty of defensive versatility, but it hurt them in rebounding and rim protection.
Head coach Jason Kidd is leaning fully into this strategy after acquiring Kyrie Irving. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Josh Green started at the forward spots on Saturday night with Doncic, Irving, and Dwight Powell. Powell will likely open the games in the playoffs, but Maxi Kleber is going to play the majority of the minutes at the five when he is healthy.
Hardaway Jr. injured his hamstring in the second quarter, and he was replaced by Reggie Bullock to open the second half. Dallas continued playing small with a single big man, even after THJ was ruled out.
The Mavs lost the rebounding battle by seven on Saturday night, and it will be something to watch closely moving forward. The Kings got 11 offensive rebounds, including a few key ones in overtime that helped them grab the win.
The Dallas Mavericks are going to primarily play four guards or wings with one big man. That limits the playing time of Powell, Christian Wood, and JaVale McGee to spot minutes, especially when Kleber returns from his hamstring injury. Dallas is going small and hoping it carries them on another deep playoff run this season.