This is your weekly Dallas Mavericks recap, current standings, and look into the week ahead. I will break down each game of the week, provide highlights, stats, funny/interesting game moments. I will also track the Mavericks path to the 2020 NBA Playoffs by providing current Western Conference and Southwest Division standings. Finally we will look ahead at the coming slate of games to see what is in store for MFFL’s next week.
This Past Week
(Week 2: 10/14-10/20)
Preseason Game 4 vs Oklahoma City
Monday, October 14th
A replay of preseason game 1 except this time on the Mavs home floor. The Mavs dominated a shorthanded Thunder team that sat Chris Paul and Steven Adams. Not only were they dominant, but consistently dominant, winning every quarter by at least 6 points.
The Mavs started Doncic/Wright/Lee/Porzingis/Kleber. I do not think this is much of an indication of what is to come, I do not expect Courtney Lee to play, much less start. I think this was Carlisle’s opportunity to get Lee some run before he starts hi long sit on the bench. Nothing personal against Lee, he played really well and fit in nicely with Luka and KP, but I just think there are more talented players on the roster I would rather have on the floor.
Luka Doncic did his thing, 19 points, 10 reb, 7 ast in 27 minutes. Especially encouraging was his 10-11 from the free-throw line, an area where Luka struggled throughout last season. We know he is capable of shooting better, we just need him to do it. One area for concern early on is Luka’s turnover issues, 6 in this game.
Porzingis did not shoot particularly well in this game, 7-21 from the floor (3 of 9 from three) for 17 points to go along with 13 rebounds and a blocked shot. I will just chalk this poor shooting game to knocking the rust off and working his way back into his basketball rhythm.
As far as the Thunder go, Danilo Gallinari was his usual efficient self on offense, dropping 16 points in 22 minutes on 12 shots. Another standout was second year point guard Shae Gilgeous-Alexander who matched Gallinari’s 16 points for the team lead.
Preseason Game 5 at LA Clippers
Thursday, October 17th
This is the game that Kristaps Porzingis came alive! There was a sequence in the first quarter where Porzingis challenged 3 straight shots in the paint, sending one flying, then sprinted down the floor, catches the defense off-guard and finished an and-1 on the delivery from Jalen Brunson. From this moment on KP looked like a totally different player on defense, engaged, active, contesting shots, and ripping down boards. He finished the game with 18 points (on 9 shots) with 13 rebounds in just 23 minutes. Rather than mostly playing as a spot up shooter like we have seen in games past, Porzingis was determined to get in the paint and get easy shots, and it worked. I know it is only preseason, but this seemed to be the game where it all came together for Kristaps Porzingis.
Luka chipped in 15 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 assists. He shot it really well, as he has done all preseason, 5-11 from the field including 4-9 from long range. Turnovers were ugly once again, racking up 9 total in his 25 minutes.
The starters were different yet again in this game, Carlisle going with Brunson/Doncic/Wright/Porzingis/Kleber. Jalen Brunson came out ready to play! He dominated the first quarter scoring, rebounding, and getting everyone involved.
Also of note are the 17 minutes played by JJ Barea. It blows my mind that this guy is already out there doing his thing after tearing his achilles in January. Barea had 4 points, 6 assists, and was a +14 in the box score despite missing each of his 5 shots. Minutes may be tight in the backcourt this year, but JJ showed he is not done.
Justin Jackson lit it up this game, dropping 18 points in 24 minutes on 6-11 shooting from the floor including 3-5 from three. Jackson is making a great case for joining the starting lineup once the season tips-off. He scores so effortlessly and efficiently that he can really help space the floor and keep the offense humming while providing good length on defense.
The Clippers sat Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams and are still missing Paul George who is recovering from shoulder surgery. Kawhi Leonard struggled, 13 points in 22 minutes on 5-19 shooting and was not able to carry the shorthanded Clippers on this night. Montrezl Harrell is still a beast, 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists and actually registered a +6 in the box score in his 24 minutes.
Yes, the opponent was short handed, but against the reigning Finals MVP the Mavericks gave MFFLs a lot to be excited about as they put a bow on the preseason.
So preseason is a wrap, here are the stats for each Maverick over the 5 exhibition games:
- Luka can score at will.
- Porzingis’ shot is a bit rusty.
- Kleber needs to rebound better.
- Brunson is ready to play.
- Justin Jackson can score very efficiently.
- Finney-Smith is connecting on his three.
- Delon Wright is still finding his way in a new situation.
- Seth Curry has been a complete non-factor so far.
Enough of the exhibition games, it is time for the real thing! I think I speak for all Mavs fans when I say I am ready for this new era of Dallas Mavericks basketball to tip-off. Every team in the NBA is 0-0 and have their eyes set on making the playoffs to compete for the 2019-2020 NBA Championship. This is a tall task for the young Dallas Mavericks trying to be one of the top 8 teams in an absolutely loaded Western Conference.
Out of the 16 teams in the West there are really only 3 teams I am comfortable eliminating from the Playoffs today: the Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies, and Oklahoma City Thunder. That means there are 14 really quality teams with some top notch players fighting for the 8 coveted playoff seeds. I am confident the Mavs can be one of those teams but it will no doubt be a battle to the end.
This Upcoming Week
(Week 3: 10/21-10/27)
Game 1 vs Washington Wizards
Wednesday, October 23rd at 7:30 pm CT on Fox Sports Southwest
Here we go! The first game of the rest of our lives. Let the Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis era of Mavs hoops begin! Get Rowdy, Get Proud, and Get Loud because Mavericks basketball is back at the American Airlines Center to start the 2019-2020 season.
It is not entirely known what the Mavs opening day starting lineup will be. If healthy, which is yet to be known, I think Dwight Powell will start next to Kristaps Porzingis, Luka Doncic, Delon Wright, and Justin Jackson. However, Powell’s health or Rick Carlisle’s unpredictability could easily make this prediction wrong. But one thing is for sure, Luka and KP will be out there and that is good enough for me.
The Mavericks will begin their quest to the Playoffs against Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards. Bradley Beal is one of the best all-around offensive players in the League but, unfortunately for him, the rest of the roster leaves a lot the be desired. John Wall is still out indefinitely and the rest of the team is “highlighted” by names like Thomas Bryant, CJ Miles, and Rookie Rui Hachimura. The Mavs should be able to have their way on offense and focus enough on Bradley Beal to stall out the Wizards attack.
Mavs fans will possibly get the chance to watch Dallas’ 2015 first round pick, Justin Anderson, return to the AAC. He played 16 minutes per game in 4 of the 5 preseason games but I am not going to pretend to know how this Wizards rotation will play out.
Game 2 at New Orleans Pelicans
Friday, October 25th at 7:00 pm CT on ESPN
By now you have heard the news that Zion Williamson has a torn meniscus in his knee and will miss the next 6-8 weeks. This is bad news for my NBA fanship, but helpful news for the Mavs in this particular game. New Orleans projects to be one of the teams that the Mavs will be battling against for a Playoff spot and they are in our division so every game against them carries a little extra weight. Even without Zion they have quality young players throughout the roster (Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Jaxon Hayes) and are led by a few proven veterans (Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick, Derrick Favors).
Jrue Holiday is regarded as one of the League’s best perimeter defenders (All-NBA 2nd team last year) so I will be keeping a close eye on the matchup of him guarding Luka Doncic. Luka has been racking up turnovers at the close of the preseason and you can’t be nonchalant with Holiday hawking around. If Luka can control the pace and protect the ball I really like the Mavs chances.
Game 3 vs Portland Trail Blazers
Sunday, October 27th at 6:00 pm CT on Fox Sports Southwest
The Mavs return home for their third game of the week to face off against the deadly Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. This is a Trail Blazers team coming off a trip to the Western Conference Finals where they were swept by the Golden State Warriors. Much of the roster has turned over, but CJ and Dame remain. Center Jusef Nurkic is still recovering from his gruesome leg injury last season but they have brought in long time Miami big man Hassan Whiteside to hold down the paint in his absence. Flanked by role players like Rodney Hood, Kent Bazemore, Zach Collins, Mario Hezonja, and Anfernee Simmons, the Blazers once again have a deep roster that expects to make a deep Playoff run.
Damian Lillard keeps getting better every year, posting per game averages of 26 points, 4.6 reb, 6.9 ast, 1.1 stl, on 40% three point shooting in 2018-2019. CJ McCollum meanwhile has averaged at least 20 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists in each of the last 4 years. They are one of the most potent offensive duo’s in the League and the Mavs defense will have their hands full trying to prevent these guys from getting hot.
I have to take this opportunity to relive one of the greatest moments from last year, and one of the best shots I have ever seen, when Luka Doncic made magic happen with 0.6 seconds on the clock in Portland, down by 3.
I see this as the first major test or benchmark for this young Mavericks team as they try to top one of the best team’s in the Western Conference over the past few years. Let’s find out what these Mavs are made of.