Dallas Mavericks 124, Utah Jazz 111
Stat Leaders: Points: 29, Green/Hardy; Assists: 4, Hardy/Wood/Wright IV; Rebounds: 16, Powell
Surprising Stat: Dwight Powell recorded a career-high eight offensive rebounds.
Dallas Mavericks 110, Los Angeles Clippers 104
Stat Leaders: Points: 24, Irving; Assists: 6, Bullock/Hardaway Jr.; Rebounds: 6, Powell/Wood
Surprising Stat: Reggie Bullock’s five first-quarter threes were a career-high.
Dallas Mavericks 122, Sacramento Kings 114
Stat Leaders: Points: 25, Irving; Assists: 10, Irving; Rebounds: 9, McGee
Surprising Stat: Irving became the first non-Dončić Maverick to record a 25-point, 10-assist game this season.
Dallas Mavericks 128, Sacramento Kings 133
Stat Leaders: Points: 28, Irving; Assists: 7, Irving; Rebounds: 9, Dončić
Surprising Stat: The Kings scored 19 overtime points, tied for the fourth-most in a game this season.
MVP of the Week: Josh Green
Just last season, Josh Green was barely hanging onto a spot in the rotation.
Now, he factors as one of Dallas’ biggest contributors.
Green blossomed this week, averaging 20.7 points on 62.5% from the field and 45.8% shooting from three-point range. His shot volume increased dramatically and his ability to maintain his efficiency is a testament to his growth as a player.
Green exhibited an array of new finishes at the rim this week, blowing by perimeter defenders and finishing with strength around the hoop. His athleticism makes him an elite cutter as well, and it is tantalizing to think about his off-ball movement with Dončić and Irving on the floor. He also played fantastic defense, as he adopted Dorian Finney-Smith’s role as the main point-of-attack defender.
“Green has shown he can handle the ball and run the offense,” Mavericks General Manager Nico Harrison said. “We have ball handling covered at a high level.”
A week like this against top-notch competition should solidify Green’s spot in the starting lineup. He played well as the main playmaker against Utah, as a secondary piece against the Clippers, and as a tertiary piece against the Kings. If this were to be Green’s ceiling, he would already be a great role player for any title team.
But, he’s just 22.
Surprise of the Week: Luka-less Victory Streak
The Mavericks’ entered this week 0-7 in games without Luka Dončić.
They exit the week 3-7.
The win over the Jazz was the most inspiring win of the season. With Dončić still out due to injury and Kyrie Irving not available yet, Dallas’ young guns showed out and willed them to a victory.
Green and Jaden Hardy both set career highs, each dropping 29 points. Dwight Powell grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds and eight offensive boards. All starters ended the game in double-figures, and Dallas came back from a 15-point deficit to win.
The victories against the Clippers and Kings were very similar, with Dallas building large early leads and holding on for close wins. Irving played fantastically in his first Dallas appearance, with the box score underselling his true impact on the game. He was incredibly unselfish with the basketball and was a key reason Reggie Bullock scored 18 points against the Clippers.
Jason Kidd altered his coaching style as well. It seemed like he had crafted an entirely new playbook for Irving, as a fantastic array of new actions were tested during this stretch.
Dallas had the fourth-best offensive rating during this stretch, scoring 121.9 points per 100 possessions. This is exactly why the front office swung for Irving, and it was fantastic to see Dallas beat top-tier opponents without Dončić.
Stock Up: The Bench
The addition of Irving seems to have sparked some great shooting stretches, specifically from the bench.
Hardy made major strides this week, establishing himself as a useful bench ballhandler while averaging 13 points on 60% shooting from deep. JaVale McGee had a resurgence, averaging 5.2 points and one block in 10 minutes per game. Even Theo Pinson came up big this week, scoring nine points against the Clippers to keep their comeback at bay.
The return of McGee is huge for this team. McGee’s paint defense and rebounding are why he was brought to Dallas, and if his performance maintains, he can play huge minutes against teams with more traditional centers.
Hardy’s development is also key. Kidd finally giving Hardy stable minutes should be applauded, and his growth will be integral in alleviating some playmaking pressure from Irving and Dončić.
“We believe that he can be a starter in this league,” Kidd said of Hardy after the victory over the Jazz. “He’s not afraid of the moment.”
Stock Down: Christian Wood
Since Christian Wood has returned from his injury, he has been dealt a bad hand.
First, rumors swirled that Wood would be traded at the deadline. And, despite conflicting prior reports, it was revealed that Wood did not receive a contract extension before the deadline.
Then, on the court, after starting 16 straight games before his injury (Dallas went 9-7), Wood ceded his starting spot to Powell. Additionally, after averaging 33.4 minutes during his stretch as a starter, he averaged just 16.2 minutes this week.
The coaching staff may be slowly bringing him back from his thumb fracture, or the aforementioned improvement of the bench (and especially McGee) might have cost him minutes.
Most likely, however, the change in team composition has reduced the need for Wood’s offensive abilities.
The victory over the Kings best illustrates the third possibility. Wood was the third big off the bench and scored 13 points in just five minutes and looked to be backing up his Twitter talk.
Wood began to force shots and have defensive lapses, leading him to play just seven minutes over the rest of the game without scoring again.
Interesting lineup decisions (Pinson recording 15 minutes) certainly cut into his playing time, yet the change in team composition has almost certainly necessitated Wood’s move to the bench.
Before acquiring Irving, Dallas was in desperate need of players that could create offensive opportunities for themselves, and Wood’s first-quarter display showcased that skillset. His defensive and decision-making issues were just as glaring earlier in the season, but the team’s need for offensive firepower outweighed benching Wood for his weaknesses.
Now, however, Irving has bumped Wood down in the offensive pecking order. The offensive emergence of Green might bump him down even further. With less defensive leeway than before, Kidd has to make defensive-oriented rotation choices, leaving Wood as the odd man out.
If this role change is permanent, Wood will still be effective at feasting on the opposing team’s second units and providing lineups absent of Dončić and Irving an offensive hub.
Wood’s place in the rotation will be interesting to watch, especially with the return of Maxi Kleber. Wood, despite his limitations, has certainly earned more playing time than he was awarded this week. Yet, his defensive issues might keep him out of the starting and closing lineups, even as he returns to form.
Feb. 13 vs Minnesota Timberwolves
Feb. 15 @ Denver Nuggets
Categories: 2022-23 Season, Mavs Fans For Life
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