The Dallas Mavericks edged out a 125-120 victory over the Brooklyn Nets last night, and it was yet another Luka Doncic masterclass down the stretch to win Dallas a game they shouldn't have been in.
The Mavericks played some pretty rough second-half defense and had a hard time generating offense without Doncic on the floor throughout various junctures of the game. Mavericks fans on Twitter were particularly puzzled at some of the rotation decisions by Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd, as Dereck Lively II for instance was basically pulled after the first half despite playing well.
However, given how spectacular the night ended, it can't be overstated enough that we can't be too critical of the Mavericks' hectic 2-0 start, especially with everyone still working back up to peak game shape. The Mavericks essentially have the whole weekend to diagnose rotation adjustments and watch plenty of film, so hopefully they can improve around the margins and establish an identity as a team here in the coming games.
3 studs, 2 duds from Mavericks' thrilling victory over Nets
Luckily for Dallas though, the game featured many positives for them outside of Luka Doncic, but the game was also a pretty hefty blend of things the Mavericks desperately need to clean up as well.
That being said, here are three studs and two duds from the Mavericks' 125-120 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
Honorable Mention: Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving continued to struggle shooting the ball in the Mavericks’ second game of the year, but his overall process on both sides of the ball has been objectively better than last year. He looks much more comfortable in the Mavericks offense and his playmaking and rebounding really stood out last night. Kyrie will definitely be a “stud” in the coming games, as he’s doing a great job of leading the team and affecting the game in other areas amidst his current shooting slump.
Honorable Mention: Dereck Lively II
Dereck Lively II honestly played extremely well given the card he was dealt to start this game after a great debut against San Antonio. With Nets starting center Nic Claxton out of the lineup, the Nets went super small and opted to run Ben Simmons and Dorian Finney-Smith at center often. Lively II did a pretty good job guarding the perimeter in the Mavericks' switch-heavy scheme and he was poised to have another big game offensively after nine first-half points, but Jason Kidd didn’t play him much after that as he thought Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber were better suited to guard the Nets’ smaller lineups.
5. Stud - Tim Hardaway Jr.
Despite only shooting 6-17 on field goals last night, Tim Hardaway Jr’s aggressiveness was much needed off the bench last in Dallas. Dallas was extremely challenged from a shot-creation standpoint last night with Kyrie Irving having a rough go shooting the ball and Jason Kidd not opting to let Jaden Hardy see any time despite not being listed on the injury report anymore.
Hardaway Jr. stepped up to fill that void, as he had a more diverse approach to his offensive game compared to the Spurs game the other night. Hardaway Jr. shot seven 3-point shots last night compared to 10 in the Spurs game.
He usually always attempts a few extremely unwarranted early shot-clock 3-pointers every game, so it was nice to see him operate in a more efficient manner. Hardaway Jr. was knifing through the defense in pick-and-roll scenarios, trying to find gaps to attack the rim or within the mid-range area to pull up for a floater.
The shot didn’t always fall, but Tim’s assertiveness along with him playing fairly disruptive defense (even if he missed a few rotations) warrants him making an appearance on this list. The Mavericks sorely needed the offensive production he gave them last night on a night where they couldn’t find much outside of Luka Doncic and Hardaway Jr.’s aggressiveness alone generated timely free throws.