MFFL Weekly: Issue 4

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 4: 10/28-11/03)

Game 4 at Denver Nuggets

Tuesday, October 29th
Win: 109-106 (3-1)

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. The Mavericks were able overcome this daunting matchup by playing incredible team basketball. Everyone was getting into the action as 9 Mavs players scored in double digits (Luka, Porzingis, Finney-Smith, Curry, Jackson, Kleber, Brunson, Hardaway, Wright).

The only Maverick who played and did not reach 10 points was Dwight Powell who made his first appearance of the season after dealing with a hamstring issue throughout the first few weeks of the year. Powell was in the starting lineup in his return but played only 14 minutes as they work him back from the injury. Despite limited minutes, it was good to see Powell back on the court so we can get more plays like these.

The Mavericks stars did not have their best games by any means, a combined 22 points on 7-26 shooting but the rest of the guys had their backs. Tim Hardaway Jr was a spark plug off the bench and did enough to silence the haters for one night as he shot 4-6 from downtown with 14 points and +23 in the box score.

Jalen Brunson had his game on full display with 11 points (2-4 shooting), 4 rebounds, 0 turnovers, and 8 assists including this fast break laser to Justin Jackson.

This was a close game throughout and entered the fourth quarter with Denver leading 88-83. The Mavs wasted no time erasing that lead and took control of the momentum after this HUGE Dorian Finney-Smith slam.

I mentioned Luka did not have a great game but that doesn’t mean when the game is on the line he can’t still deliver some Luka Magic. In a 1 point game with less than a minute on the clock, Luka did his thing and got to the basket for a crafty layup around Paul Millsap.

This game spoke volumes about the potential of the Dallas Mavericks this season. If they are able to go into one of the toughest places to play, not get the best out of their stars, and still walk out with a win then they should not be afraid of anyone.

Game 4 Key Stat Lines:

Luka Doncic – 12 pts, 4 reb, 5 ast, 2 stl.

Kristaps Porzingis – 10 pts, 14 reb, 3 ast, 2 blk.

Maxi Kleber – 14 pts, 7 reb, 1 stl, 3 blk (including potential game saving block in last minute).

Nikola Jokic – 10 pts, 10 reb, 10 ast, 3 stl.

Jamal Murray – 16 pts, 6 reb, 1 ast.

Paul Millsap – 23 pts, 8 reb.

Will Barton – 19 pts, 11 reb

Game 5 vs Los Angeles Lakers

Friday, November 1st
Loss*: 119-110 OT (3-2)

I had this as one of my top 10 home games of the 2019-2020 season when the schedule was released in August and it did not disappoint. With two of the top players in the NBA coming into town in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, it is safe to say the Mavs were fired up for this one.

There were runs made by both teams, highlight plays, great matchups, and it was back and forth throughout the closing minutes of regulation.

While it was an incredibly exciting game it certainly ended in controversy. Multiple missed calls and missed opportunities by the Mavs resulted in a very disappointing loss. It was not disappointing in how the Mavericks played, just that it feels like they let one get away against one of the best teams in the League. The Mavs won the rebounding battle 61-41 and they shot 39% from three compared to 28% for the Lakers.

The Mavericks did enough to go up 103-100 with 6.4 seconds left in the game. Then with LeBron James with the ball, Danny Green in the corner, and a little blind eye from the refs resulted in a soul crushing game-tying three as time expired. Dwight Howard had his hands all over Seth Curry as he tried to fight over the screen and close out on Danny Green but nothing was called.

The NBA Official last 2-minute report acknowledged the blown call, not that in any way helps rectify the situation. Had the refs just made the obvious call then the Mavs would have the ball, up by 3, with 3.5 seconds left. That has to be about a 99.9% chance to come out with a victory in that situation and the Mavs would have been 4-1 and coming off two wins over the Nuggets and Lakers. But such is life, I guess.

This was still a very encouraging game. The Mavericks are legit, they can play with anyone, and they will be tough to beat on any given night.

Game 5 Key Stat Lines:

Luka Doncic – 31 pts, 13 reb, 15 ast (career high).

Kristaps Porzingis – 16 pts, 9 reb.

Dwight Powell – 14 pts, 5 reb, 25 mins.

LeBron James – 39 pts, 12 reb, 16 ast.

Anthony Davis – 31 pts, 8 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl, 2 blk.

Game 6 at Cleveland Cavaliers

Sunday, November 3rd

Win: 131-111 (4-2)

The Mavericks had to deal with some hot three point shooting from the Cavaliers  right out of the gate as Kevin Love and Jordan Clarkson had 4 threes each in the first quarter. But the Mavs responded with some hot shooting of their own and were able to erase an 8 points deficit to take a 31-28 lead at the end of the first.

The Cavaliers are not as talented as the Mavericks but they play hard and back down from nobody. The Mavericks, namely Doncic and KP, are starting to get a lot of hype and it means they are now going to get the best shot from everyone.

Luka Doncic had some added motivation for this game as Cleveland has the largest Slovenian population in the US. In front of a large contingent of his country men and women he did not disappoint, completing his triple-double with 3:44 left in the third quarter. He was knocking down threes, getting to the basket with ease, and setting up teammates for wide open looks.

Kristaps Porzingis had himself a block party! Repeatedly the Cavs tried to challenge him at the rim and repeatedly he sent those shots back at them.

Maxi Kleber sat this game with a sore right knee, opening up minutes for fan favorite Boban Marjanovic. Boban did what Boban does, put up significant numbers in a limited number of minutes. The fact that the Mavericks can sit a player as productive as Maxi Kleber and replace him with a guy like Boban is such a luxury to have as we progress through a long 82 game season. The Mavs depth continues to be a major strength for this team and a big reason for the strong 4-2 start.

This was a really good win by the Mavericks, they handled the best shot that Cleveland could throw at them then stretched the lead at the end of the third and the star of the fourth and were able to coast to a comfortable 20 point win. This moves the Mavericks to 3-0 on the road to start the season, a very encouraging sign of things to come. After a tough result against the Lakers in the previous game the Mavericks responded well against a lesser team and handled their business.

Game 6 Key Stat Lines:

Luka Doncic – 29 pts, 14 reb, 15 ast. 9-17 shooting, 5 threes, 6-6 on free throws.

Kristaps Porzingis – 18 pts, 9 reb, 1 stl, 6 blk. 4-6 from three.

Boban Marjanovic – 12 pts and 8 reb in 15 mins.

Kevin Love – 29 pts, 8 reb, 2 ast, 1 stl, 1 blk.

Jordan Clarkson – 17pts, 5-10 from three.

Today

We are now two weeks into the regular season the Mavericks off to a great start in both the Southwest Division and Westerns Conference standings. We are tied for first in the Division with the Spurs and tied for fourth in the Western Conference with three other teams. I think this is something we are going to have to get used to, with so many quality teams in the West I expect the standings to be a jumbled mess from 1-9 throughout most of the season.

Southwest Division Standings:

Southwest Division W L W/L% GB PS/G PA/G
Dallas Mavericks 4 2 0.667 116.7 112.2
San Antonio Spurs 4 2 0.667 112.8 109.8
Houston Rockets 3 3 0.5 1 121.3 127
Memphis Grizzlies 1 4 0.2 2.5 106.6 119.4
New Orleans Pelicans 1 5 0.167 3 118.3 122.5

Western Conference Standings:

Rank Western Conference W L W/L% GB PS/G PA/G
1 Los Angeles Lakers 5 1 0.833 109.8 99.3
2 Minnesota Timberwolves 4 1 0.8 0.5 118 112
3 Los Angeles Clippers 5 2 0.714 0.5 112.9 107.3
T-4 Dallas Mavericks 4 2 0.667 1 116.7 112.2
T-4 Phoenix Suns 4 2 0.667 1 115.2 106
T-4 San Antonio Spurs 4 2 0.667 1 112.8 109.8
T-4 Denver Nuggets 4 2 0.667 1 103.5 103.2
8 Utah Jazz 4 3 0.571 1.5 100 95.6
T-9 Houston Rockets 3 3 0.5 2 121.3 127
T-9 Portland Trail Blazers 3 3 0.5 2 113.8 113.3
11 Oklahoma City Thunder 2 4 0.333 3 104.3 101.8
12 Sacramento Kings (12) 2 5 0.286 3.5 101.1 110.1
13 Memphis Grizzlies 1 4 0.2 3.5 106.6 119.4
T-14 New Orleans Pelicans 1 5 0.167 4 118.3 122.5
T-14 Golden State Warriors 1 5 0.167 4 109.2 120.8

Mavericks Player Stats:

Luka is playing onan MVP caliber level, Porzingis is proving to still be an elite 3-point shooting and shot blocking big, and the Mavs have incredible depth with 8 other players averaging at least 8 points per game.

Delon Wright has been extremely efficient in his 26 minutes per game. 61% on field goals, 60% from three, 90% from the line, and 4.2 assists to just 0.7 turnovers per game. His stat line may not wow you at first glance but if you look a little closer he has been extremely impressive.

Justin Jackson is scoring efficiently across the board but has only managed to play 13 minutes per game. Tim Hardaway Jr, on the other hand is shooting a woeful 37% from the field including 30% from three as is logging 23 minutes per game. If it were me, I would swap these players roles and give the bulk of those minutes to Jackson.

Of the players who have played at least 3 games in the NBA this season Dorian Finney-Smith is 14th in offensive rebounds per game with 2.7 of his 6.5 rebounds per game coming on the offensive end. This is an incredible skill that earns the Mavericks extra possessions almost 3 times a game. Very impressive stuff from Doe-Doe.

Player MP FGA FG% 3PA 3P% FT% REB AST STL BLK TO PTS
Dončić 36 18.7 46% 9 35% 80% 10.3 9.5 1.5 0.2 4.7 26.7
Porziņģis 32 16.7 43% 6.5 39% 69% 8.2 2.2 0.3 2.7 2.3 20.5
Kleber 29 7.8 41% 4.2 29% 86% 7.8 1.2 0.2 1.6 1.4 8.8
Fin.-Smith 27 6.7 45% 3.3 30% 67% 6.5 0.7 0.8 0.2 1.2 8.7
Wright 26 6.8 61% 1.7 60% 90% 3.5 4.2 1.7 0 0.7 10.8
Brunson 23 8.7 40% 3.3 30% 50% 3.5 3.8 0.3 0 1 9.2
Hardaway 23 9 37% 5.5 30% 83% 2.3 1.5 0.2 0 0.5 10
Curry 22 6.8 46% 4.3 42% 100% 1.7 1.8 0.8 0.2 0.8 9.3
Powell 22 5.7 59% 1 33% 60% 4.3 0 0.3 0 2 9
Marjanović 13 8 50% 0 0% 7.5 0.5 0 0 1 8
Jackson 13 3.8 52% 1.7 40% 83% 1.8 0.5 0.2 0 0.3 5.5
Lee 11 3.5 43% 1.5 0% 0.5 0 0 0 0 3
Broekhoff 2 1 100% 1 100% 0 1 0 0 0 3

As a team the Mavericks have been extremely impressive on offense, thanks to the greatness of Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis paired with an extremely deep and potent bench. So good, in fact, that through the first 2 weeks of the regular season the Dallas Mavericks are ranked 1st in the League in Offensive Rating at 113.4 (an estimate of points scored per 100 possessions). The defense has been really good at times but has been very inconsistent, ranking 19th in the NBA in Defensive Rating with 109 points allowed per 100 possessions.

A big factor in the Mavs having the best offense in the League thus far is the fact that they are able to move the ball without turning it over, ranking 6th in the NBA in turnover percentage at 12.7%.

Three point shooting is proving to be a points of emphasis for the Mavs, as we expected. They are 3rd in the League in 3-Point Attempt Rate with 44.2% of their shots coming from long range. Now this is only beneficial if you make them, which the Mavs have done so far this season ranking 11th in the NBA at 35.4%.

One of the most surprising team stats for the Mavs so far this year is their rebounding efficiency, they rank 6th in the NBA in rebounds per game. Many people were concerned that the Mavs would get pounded on the boards this year since they didn’t throw big money at a bulky rebounder this offseason but everyone has stepped up and they rebound as a team.

This Upcoming Week

(Week 5: 11/04-11/10)

Game 7 vs Orlando Magic

Wednesday, November 6th at 7:30 pm CT on FSSW

Wednesday will be Seats for Soldiers Night at the AAC which is always one of the best home games of the year no matter what the matchup. This is a night where more than 100 wounded service members  are flown in to join active reserve troops from the Dallas/ Fort Worth area to attend the Mavs game.  What is even more amazing, is that every courtside season ticket holder gives up their seat to one of the soldiers and after the game the soldiers will be treated to a meet and greet with the Mavs players and staff.

I have been to several Seats for Soldiers nights at the AAC and it is by far one of my favorite Mavs games of the year.  It is inspirational, extremely high energy, and it doesn’t hurt that the Mavs typically win!  The Mavs are now 12-2 in these games including a 50 point beatdown of the Utah Jazz last season on November 14th.  The in-game promotions are done by the soldiers, the National Anthem and halftime show are great, and two years former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, sat courtside among the troops and shook the hand and said “thank you” to every single courtside soldier at the game.  I can’t wait to see what surprises Seats for Soldiers night holds this year!

Game 8 vs New York Knicks

Friday, November 8th at 7:30 pm CT on FSSW

This, of course, is the first opportunity for Kristaps Porzingis to play against his former team that he was very publicly not so fond of. It is, however, the first night of a back-to-back (the first one for the Mavs this year) so it is not yet known whether or not KP will suit up against the Knicks Friday. Carlisle and the Mavs have made it known that they will hold Porzingis out of back-to-back situations but we don’t know if he will sit the front or back end of this one. As an NBA fan I want him to play in this one and sit on Saturday in Memphis, selfishly because I want to see Porzingis play when I am at the game and also for all the drama that would ensue.

This is also the return of Dallas Mavericks 2018 first round pick Dennis Smith Jr after being involved in the Porzingis trade in the middle of last season. I loved watching Dennis Smith Jr in his year and a half with the Mavs. His high flying acrobatics are nearly unmatched by a player of his size and I would love to see a showdown of him skying towards the rim with Porzingis poised to contest. Dennis has crazy hops but it is hard to out-jump a 7’3″ Unicorn. Unfortunately, the likelihood of this actually happening has turned out to be pretty slim as DSJ is only playing 8 minutes per game and missed the Knicks game on Sunday due to “personal reasons.” Quite a fall from grace by Dennis after being 5th in Rookie of the Year voting 2 years ago and now not being able to get minutes for a 1-7 rebuilding team.

Game 9 at Memphis Grizzlies

Saturday, November 9th at 7:30 pm CT on FSSW

I am excited to see this Memphis Grizzlies team with interesting young prospects in Ja Morant (2nd pick in 2019) and Jaren Jackson, Jr (4th pick in 2018), and Brandon Clarke (21st pick in 2019). They are not a playoff contender this year, 1-4 to start the season, but there is a lot to look forward to in Memphis.

Despite Memphis’ poor record their is no sure win in the NBA. Along with their exciting young core the Grizzlies also have some quality, experienced veterans. Jonas Valanciunas is a handful in the paint and we all know what former Maverick Jae Crowder can bring to the table with his high energy playmaking.

As far as back-to-back games go, a combination of the 1-7 Knicks and the 1-4 Grizzlies seems pretty ideal. They still need to go out there and take care of business but with a week of games that have the Mavs facing 3 teams with a combined record of 4-15 gives them a great chance to continue their strong start and potentially start the season 7-2. After the slow starts MFFLs have experienced over the past several years this quality play right out of the gate has been such a breath of fresh air. Onward and upward, LETS GO MAVS!

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