Dallas Mavericks 96, Brooklyn Nets 94
Stat Leaders: Points: 36, Dončić; Rebounds: 8, Powell; Assists: 6, Dončić
Surprising Stat: Luka Dončić began his season with nine straight 30-point games, the second-longest season-opening streak of all time.
Dallas Mavericks 87, Orlando Magic 94
Stat Leaders: Points: 29, Dinwiddie; Rebounds: 6, Dončić; Assists: 6, Dončić
Surprising Stat: This was the first game of the season that Dončić scored less than 30 points.
Dallas Mavericks 105, Washington Wizards 113
Stat Leaders: Points: 33, Dinwiddie; Rebounds: 9, Dončić: Assists: 6, Dončić/Dinwiddie
Surprising Stat: This was Dinwiddie’s highest scoring outing since his 36-point performance against the Sacramento Kings in March.
Dallas Mavericks 117, Portland Trailblazers 112
Stat Leaders: Points: 42, Dončić; Rebounds: 13, Dončić: Assists, 10, Dončić
Surprising Stat: Dončić has had 20 points and five assists in each of his first 12 games, becoming the fourth player in NBA history to achieve that feat.
MVP of the Week: Spencer Dinwiddie
In a week with many highs and lows, one thing was clear.
Spencer Dinwiddie is a baller.
Excluding his dud against Brooklyn, Dinwiddie averaged roughly 27 points per game, five rebounds per game, and six assists per game over the last three games. He shot 57% from the floor, 57% from three, and 91% from the free-throw line. He exhibited his high-level decision-making with an absurd 4.25 assist-to-turnover ratio and earned 10 free throws per game with aggressive drives to the basket.
The numbers don’t tell the full story.
Dončić, for the first time all season, looked mortal against Orlando and Washington. Dinwiddie more than picked up the slack despite the losses. He was the engine that drove the offense and hit timely shots that allowed the Mavs to hang around longer than they should have.
A pedestrian game for Dinwiddie against Portland became extraordinary with just three minutes to play. Dinwiddie hit three consecutive three-pointers to turn a three-point deficit into a six-point lead that the Mavericks would not squander.
The departure of Jalen Brunson left many Mavs fans questioning if Dinwiddie was ready to be the secondary playmaker.
Thus far, he has answered that question with a resounding yes.
Stock Up: Christian Wood
Christian Wood missed two games this week, and his stock-up status is more of a referendum on the roster construction rather than anything he did. His play against Brooklyn wasn’t fantastic, but his 19 points against Portland were critical to the Mavericks’ eventual victory.
Enough has been said about what Wood brings to this team. What we had this week was the opportunity to see how this team plays without him. The answer?
In the losses against the Magic and Wizards (more on that later), the Mavericks posted an abysmal 99.5 offensive rating. That is roughly 15 points less than the Mavericks’ season average and is five points worse than the worst offense in the league. If extrapolated to a full season, it would be the worst offensive rating since the 10-win Philadelphia 76ers in 2015-2016.
While it is a small sample size, and while it is true that Dončić was not at his best, it is very clear that this team needs Christian Wood.
Surprise of the Week: Two Embarrassing Losses
Coming off a four-game win streak, it seemed like the Mavericks were finally putting something together.
And then the wheels fell off.
Not only were these losses against two of the worst teams in the NBA over the last few seasons, but Orlando was without rookie sensation Paolo Banchero, and Washington was without former all-stars Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porziņģis.
Against the Magic, the offense was a wreck. Dončić had his worst shooting game of the season, going 9-for-24 from the floor and 2-for-11 from three-point range. While Dončić and Dinwiddie combined for 45 points, the rest of the team only combined for 42. The Mavs shot 37% from the floor and 26% from three, and the free throw woes continued as the team shot just 63% from the line. To top it all off, the Mavericks scored just 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Against the Wizards, the defense fell apart. The Wizards shot 26-for-49 in the paint and were able to drive to the basket with ease. Kyle Kuzma dropped a game-high 36 points and Rui Hachimuria contributed 23 off the bench, with each shooting 75% in the paint. To rub salt in the wound, the Mavericks shot 62% on free-throws.
These were two bad losses. Hopefully, they’re as bad as it gets.
Stock Down: The Role-Players
Kyle Kuzma called them “very limited.” Kevin Durant said they don’t know how to “dribble and create for themselves.”
It is rare to have two opponents be as critical of a unit as Durant and Kuzma were of the Mavericks’ role players.
What makes it bad is that we know they are right.
Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, and Reggie Bullock are the archetypal three-and-D players. Josh Green is a spark plug off the bench. Dwight Powell is a lob threat. Tim Hardaway Jr. is a shooter. Nobody is sure what JaVale McGee does well at this point in his career. The nature of these players is already limited to very specific roles.
What makes it worse is that they aren’t even filling them.
Finney-Smith, coming off his best season, is shooting a paltry 33% from three. Bullock is shooting 29%. Kleber is shooting 28%.
Finney-Smith’s defensive box plus/minus is negative for the first time in three seasons. Ditto for Bullock. Kleber’s defenders are shooting 1.4% better against him this season compared to last.
Hardaway Jr. gets a pass as he is returning from an injury, and Josh Green has made clear strides. Powell is who he is, and it seems McGee is too. The fact, however, remains the same: for the Mavericks to play well, the role players need to play their roles.
We’ve seen what happens when they don’t.
Nov. 15 vs Los Angeles Clippers
Nov. 16 vs Houston Rockets
Nov. 18 vs Denver Nuggets
Nov. 20 vs Denver Nuggets