MFFL Weekly: Issue 3

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 this week.

This Past Week

(Week 3: 10/21-10/27)

Game 1 vs Washington Wizards

Wednesday, October 23rd
Win: 108-100 (1-0)

The Mavericks got off to a slow start in the first quarter of their first game of the 2019-2020 season, going down 17-10 7 minutes into the game. With all of the debate and discussion of who will be the Mavericks opening day starters, Head Coach Rick Carlisle made just about everyone wrong by starting Delong Wright/Courtney Lee/Luka Doncic/Kristaps Porzingis/Maxi Kleber. Rick Carlisle explained the reasoning behind moving Courtney Lee into the starting lineup by saying that with all of the film they watched, Lee was by far the best at defending Wizards All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal.

The Mavs bounced back from their slow start in impressive fashion by pouring in 38 points in the seconds quarter led by 9 quick points by Seth Curry off the bench to give the Mavs a 62-48 lead at halftime.

The Wizards struggled shooting the ball all night, finishing the game with 40% shooting including 27% on 41 three point attempts. Despite the shooting woes they were able to battle their way back into the game in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead from 23 to start the quarter all the way down to 7 with just over a minute to go. The Wizards momentum took a major hit when the competitive back-and-forth with Bradley Beal and Luka Doncic boiled over to the point of Beal being ejected with a minute left in the game.

That was when “amazing happened” as Dorian Finney-Smith secured an offensive rebound, as he so often does, and kicked the ball out to Jalen Brunson on the perimeter. Brunson went into attack mode, taking the ball hard to the basket, and at the last minute flips the ball waaaay up to a cutting Kristaps Porzingis who used his inspector gadget like length to catch the ball at its peak and seal the game with an epic slam.

Key Stat Lines from Game 1:

Luka Doncic – 34 points (12-19 shooting, 4 threes), 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals.

Kristaps Porzingis – 23 points (7-16 shooting, 3 threes), 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block.

Bench scoring – Jackson 10, Finney-Smith 10 (added 8 rebounds and 7-8 FTs), Brunson 9, Curry 9, Hardaway 4.

Bradley Beal – 19 points (7-25 shooting), 6 rebounds, 9 assists.

Thomas Bryant – 14 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists.

Rui Hachimura – 14 points, 10 rebounds.

Game 2 at New Orleans Pelicans

Friday, October 25th
Win: 123-116 (2-0)

Same story, different game. The Mavericks got off to a very sluggish start on defense, allowing the Pelicans to jump out to a 41-27 lead at the end of the first quarter. 41 points allowed in the first quarter of this game is the 41st most EVER given up by a Mavericks team in a single quarter in team history. After I am done being distracted by Dirk memories with all of the “41s” involved in that stat, I come back to Earth and try to figure out what is going wrong to start these games.

Rick Carlisle changed up the starting lineup in this game, going with Brunson/Doncic/Lee/Finney-Smith/Porzingis. If Courtney Lee is being deployed in the starting lineup for his defense, why are we giving up so many points early in the game? It was like layup lines for the Pelicans in the first quarter, Mavs players were losing individual battles all over the court with little to no help defense on the interior. If the defense is going to be so porous anyways, we might as well start a strong offensive lineup to keep up by using guys like Seth Curry or Justin Jackson in the starting lineup rather than Courtney Lee.

The Mavericks once again recovered in a big way in the second quarter, outscoring the pelicans 45-23 to secure a 72-64 lead at halftime. 45 points is a MASSIVE scoring quarter, tied for the 10th most points the Mavericks have ever scored in a single quarter in franchise history. It was a balanced Mavericks attack led by 11 points from Kristaps Porzingis including a dunk and 2 threes.

The Mavs never trailed in the 4th quarter but the Pelicans were able to draw even at 109-109 with 5 minutes left in the game. And when the game is close in the 4th quarter we know what happens, LUKA MAGIC! With 2 minutes left in the game Luka put the team on his back, scoring 5 straight points including a high arching step-back three that banked in off the glass. Call it luck, call it destiny, call it whatever you want, but Luka Doncic just continues to produce with the game on the line.

Luka and Porzingis were really good, displaying their full skill sets in this game. But we know these guys are good, what was most impressive in this game was the performance of Delon Wright. Coming off the bench Wright was more aggressive on both ends, he scored, made plays for his teammates, and was an absolute terror for the Pelicans on defense. The Mavericks are going to have to gang rebound this year with none of their primary frontcourt options being great rebounders. Luckily we have guys like Delon Wright and Luka Doncic who rebound extremely well for their position.

Key Stat Lines from Game 2:

Luka Doncic – 25 points (10-19 shooting, 3 threes), 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers.

Kristaps Porzingis – 24 points (8-14 shooting, 3 threes), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 blocks.

Delon Wright – 20 points (8-14 shooting), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 steals.

Brandon Ingram – 25 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks.

Jrue Holiday – 8 points (2-11 shooting), 4 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals.

Lonzo Ball – 15 points (3-12 from three), 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals.

Game 3 vs Portland Trail Blazers

Sunday, October 27th
Win: 121-119 (2-1)

Most of the headlines from this game will be about the coaches challenge that happened with just a few seconds left in the game where the Mavs went from sending Doe-Doe to the line for two shots with a chance to tie or take the lead to a jump ball at center court after the refs overturned a foul call on Damian Lillard. It was a very unfortunate turn of events for the Mavericks as they lost the jump ball and their last real chance to win the game. I am guessing we have not practiced jump-ball’s much as Porzingis (7’3″) managed to lose possession to Rodney Hood (6’7″) with the game on the line.

It is certainly questionable that the Mavs left their two best defenders (Porzingis and Wright) on the bench during the most key defensive possession of the game for the Mavs. While the Mavs are being killed by McCollum and Lillard, Carlisle opts to sit their best perimeter defender in favor of Jalen Brunson.

As frustrating as losses can be, especially ones when you led the game by 19 and one points, this was a really fun and exciting game all around. The Trail Blazers are a legitimate Western Conference contender and the Mavs had them right where they wanted them for most of the game.

When it came down to it the Mavericks just shot too poorly to win. 39% from the field and 26% (13-50) from three point range are simply not good enough to win in the NBA. If you told me the Mavericks only turned it over 11 times and only lost the rebound battle by 2, I would have really liked out chances to win this game. The problem is, throughout the game and especially in the last few minutes when Whiteside fouled out and Zach Collins left with an injury, the Mavs had a supreme advantage in the paint with Kristaps Porzingis. KP didn’t demand low-post position nor did the Mavs make a concerted effort to get him the ball in obvious mismatches when the game was on the line.

I am sure the Mavs wish they could have this one back but they will just have to move on and try to learn from these experiences.

Key Stat Lines from Game 3:

Luka Doncic -29 points (8-22 shooting), 12 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals, 4 turnovers.

Kristaps Porzingis – 32 points (11-23 shooting), 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks.

Damian Lillard – 28 points (10-20 shooting), 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 block.

CJ McCollum – 35 points (13-26 shooting), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals.

Today

After 1 week of the regular season the Mavericks sit at second in the Division behind the Spurs and tied for fourth in the Conference with 5 other teams. Although the Mavs let the game against Portland slip away this is still one of the better starts to the season that they have had in many years.

Southwest Division Standings:

Southwest Division W L W/L% GB PS/G PA/G
San Antonio Spurs 2 0 1 122 116.5
Dallas Mavericks 2 1 0.667 0.5 116.7 112.3
Houston Rockets 1 1 0.5 1 118.5 120
Memphis Grizzlies 1 2 0.333 1.5 112.3 121
New Orleans Pelicans 0 3 0 2.5 120.3 126.3

Western Conference Standings:

Rank Western Conference W L W/L% GB PS/G PA/G
1 Minnesota Timberwolves 3 0 1 121.3 111.3
T-2 San Antonio Spurs 2 0 1 0.5 122 116.5
T-2 Denver Nuggets 2 0 1 0.5 108 103.5
T-4 Los Angeles Clippers 2 1 0.667 1 125 118
T-4 Utah Jazz 2 1 0.667 1 99.7 90.3
T-4 Dallas Mavericks 2 1 0.667 1 116.7 112.3
T-4 Portland Trail Blazers 2 1 0.667 1 114.3 113
T-4 Phoenix Suns 2 1 0.667 1 120.3 108.3
T-4 Los Angeles Lakers 2 1 0.667 1 105.7 99.7
10 Houston Rockets 1 1 0.5 1.5 118.5 120
T-11 Oklahoma City Thunder 1 2 0.333 2 100 96.3
T-11 Memphis Grizzlies 1 2 0.333 2 112.3 121
13 Golden State Warriors 0 2 0 2.5 107 130.5
T-14 Sacramento Kings 0 3 0 3 96 119.7
T-14 New Orleans Pelicans 0 3 0 3 120.3 126.3

Mavericks Player Stats:

Luka and Porzingis are off to great starts but, as you can see by the stats below, the Mavs are still waiting on a legitimate third scorer to emerge. The three point shooting, for a team that wants to shoot 50 a game, is abysmal. We really only have 3 players shooting well from deep and that is KP, Delon Wright, and Seth Curry. If these shooting struggles last for weeks rather than days, some players may find themselves squarely on the bench given the type of offense Carlisle wants to play.

Looking up and down the scoring column I feel even more strongly that Dwight Powell will end up being this team’s third leading scorer. With so many of the guards sharing minutes it is hard for me to see any of these guys approaching 15 points a game. The exception would be Delon Wright who has shown to be very efficient so far this year, he just has not shown the offensive aggressiveness while starting alongside Luka.

Player MP FGA FG% 3PA 3P% FT% REB AST STL BLK TO PTS
Dončić 36 20 50% 9.7 31% 79% 10.3 7.3 2.3 0 4.3 29.3
Porziņģis 31 18.7 46% 7.3 41% 72% 5.7 3.3 0.3 2.7 2.3 26.3
Fin.-Smith 28 6 33% 3.3 20% 64% 7.7 1 0.7 0.3 1 7.7
Kleber 27 5.7 41% 4 25% 83% 8 1.7 0 1.7 1.7 7.3
Brunson 27 9 37% 4 33% 60% 4.7 2.3 0.7 0 1.3 9
Wright 25 6 67% 1.3 75% 100% 4.3 3.7 2 0 0.7 11
Hardaway 22 7.3 27% 5.7 12% 90% 1 1.3 0 0 0.7 7.7
Curry 21 7 48% 3.7 46% 100% 1.7 1 1 0.3 1 9.7
Jackson 17 5.7 41% 2 17% 83% 3.3 0.7 0 0 0.7 6.7
Lee 11 3.5 43% 1.5 0%  – 0.5 0 0 0 0 3

This Upcoming Week

(Week 4: 10/28-11/03)

Game 4 at Denver Nuggets

Tuesday, October 29th at 8:00 PM CT, on Fox Sports Southwest

The Nuggets are coming off of a breakout season where they finished 2nd in the West and the 4th best record in the entire NBA. Their success was driven by their home court dominance, winning 34 of their 41 home games last year. They get these teams from sea-level cities coming into the Mile High City and just run them into the ground.

While this seems like a very daunting matchup, trying to take down the Nuggets in Denver, the Mavericks do have the benefit of facing them coming off a back-to-back. The Nuggets play Monday in Sacramento then have to travel back to Denver to face the Mavs the next day. Let’s hope the Kings can bring themselves out of their early season funk and give the Nuggets enough of a fight to tire them out a bit.

Nikola Jokic is an MVP caliber player, Jamal Murray has become a legitimate All-Star candidate, Paul Millsap provides a veteran presence and does the dirty work, and then they have a stable of productive young players to fill out the roster. This is a matchup of two of the best young cores in the League and I expect to see the Nuggets and the Mavs have some great duels for years to come.

This will be somewhat of a revenge game for Luka Doncic after the events that transpired in Denver in March of last season. Luka capped of a fantastic night in Denver with a MONSTER jam over Paul Millsap and Mason Plumlee to put the Mavs up by 1 with just 6 seconds to go in the game. However, Nikola Jokic stole Luka’s thunder by flipping in a leaning hook shot as time expired to send the Mavs home with a loss. Hopefully now with Porzingis available to try to put the clamps on Jokic, Luka and the Mavs can find a way to leave Denver with a win.

Game 5 vs Los Angeles Lakers

Friday, November 1st at 8:30 PM CT, on ESPN and Fox Sports Southwest

I am sure all Mavs fans are looking forward to this matchup as LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers come to town. I had this as one of my top 10 home games of the 2019-2020 season when the schedule was released in August. Both the Mavericks and the Lakers will have two days of rest coming into the game and a day of rest after this game so I expect both teams to be at full health.

This is a tough set of games for the Mavericks, at Denver then home against the Lakers. It is unfair to think the Mavericks will win every game but if they can take one of these two I think MFFLs will be very encouraged by the potential of the Mavs this season.

Rebounding is going to a very key area to watch throughout this game. The Lakers can play huge, starting LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and JaVale McGee, then bringing Dwight Howard off the bench. So far the Mavs have opted to go small with most of their lineups but this seems like a prime opportunity to deploy our secret weapon, Boban Marjanovic.

Luka Doncic will look to get his first win against his basketball idol, LeBron James as the Mavericks were 0-3 against the Lakers last season. He almost had a victory against LeBron on Halloween last year, hitting the game-tying floater with 7 seconds left in the game, that is, until Wes Matthews inexplicably fouled LeBron 40 feet from the basket in the final seconds to hand the game back to LA.

Game 6 at Cleveland Cavaliers

Sunday, November 3rd at 6:30 PM CT, on Fox Sports Southwest

Cleveland projects to be one of the worst teams in the League this season but they have already shown they can still play by taking it to the Indiana Pacers 110-99 last week. While this should be an opportunity for an easy win, if the Mavericks come out sluggish the Cavs can take advantage.

They are led by 5 time All-Star Kevin Love who is off to a great start this season averaging 16 points, 15.5 rebounds, and 6 assists through the first two games. They also have exciting young guards Collin Sexton and Darius Garland who they picked with the 8th and 5th overall picks respectively over the past two years. They also still have Tristan Thompson constantly hounding the offensive glass, averaging 20.5 points and 12 rebounds (3.5 offensive) so far this year.

It is early in the year but this feels like one of the games that the Mavericks HAVE to win if they want to make a serious push for the Playoffs. Winning games against the bottom of the Eastern Conference allows the Mavs to take a few lumps against the more experienced team’s in the League without putting them way behind in the standings.

I am sure Luka and KP will do their thing, but expect this to be a great game for the Mavericks bench. The Cavs have some talent but they certainly do not have depth. Whoever Rick Carlisle decides to play as the primary second unit should be able to have their way against Larry Nance Jr, Kevin Porter, Matthew Dellavedova, and Jordan Clarkson.

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