Dallas Mavericks 142, San Antonio Spurs 116
Stat Leaders: Points: 28, Dončić; Assists: 10, Dončić; Rebounds: 8, Powell
Surprising Stat: The Mavericks’ 142 points were the most in a game this season.
Dallas Mavericks 108, Los Angeles Lakers 111
Stat Leaders: Points: 26, Dončić; Assists: 5, Dončić/Irving; Rebounds: 11, Dončić
Surprising Stat: The blown 27-point lead was the third-largest squandered lead in team history.
MVP of the Week: Tim Hardaway Jr.
Coming out of the All-Star break, Hardaway Jr. has moved back to the bench.
So far, so good.
Hardaway has maintained the hot shooting he displayed before the break. He averaged 19.5 points on 47.6% shooting from three-point range this week.
While his paint scoring is still very questionable, he is a needed spark plug off the bench considering Kidd’s shocking unwillingness to play Christian Wood. Kyrie Irving and Luka Dončić have a tremendous offensive load to carry, and any support from players like Hardaway Jr. will help ease the pressure on the dynamic duo.
Surprise of the Week: Second-Half Collapse vs. Lakers
Blowing a 27-point lead should feel more surprising than it does.
Frankly, however, smoking such leads has been routine for Dallas this season.
Dallas fell apart in the second half. Anthony Davis and LeBron James feasted in the paint and Jarred Vanderbilt exhibited why he was a rumored target for the Mavericks’ during the trade deadline.
Dallas lost this game in three phases. First, the Mavericks’ fell in love (unsurprisingly) with the three. Irving was the main culprit of this, as he shot just two-for-nine from three and struggled with his shot selection throughout the game.
Second, Dwight Powell played way too much in this game. I am a noted Powell defender, but the coaching staff once again overestimated his capabilities and made him the main defender on Davis. Powell played most of the second half and was a big reason why the Lakers were so effective in the paint, as he has neither the size nor the strength to match up to Davis or James. This falls on the coaching staff. Wood is not a good defender, but he at least provides better height, rim protection, rebounding and offensive production than Powell. Heck, even try JaVale McGee. The lack of in-game adjustments is maddening, and, unfortunately, Powell often becomes the punching bag for the coaching staff’s poor rotational decisions.
Third, the late-game coaching was poor – again. Josh Green had been frustrating Lakers’ players all game with his defense, and he shot 60% from deep, making him a useful tool offensively. Instead, he found himself benched for the newly acquired Justin Holiday, who, while good, was traded by the Atlanta Hawks and bought out by the Houston Rockets for a reason. Powell played all but the last 20 seconds of crunch time. The coaching staff, once again, managed to call the same out-of-bounds play twice in a row after they called a timeout. The play was predicably snuffed out by Vanderbilt, which effectively iced the game.
“I’m not the savior here,” Jason Kidd said after the game. “I’m not playing, I’m watching just like you guys.”
Kidd is certainly right – he’s not the savior. He is, however, the coach, and he was hired to coach, not to watch. And, if Kidd is watching, he’d see that this team has the same flaws it had pre-Irving. Should Kidd not make any significant adjustments to his coaching philosophy, he and the Mavericks will certainly have an early exit in the playoffs or watching the playoffs.
Stock Up: Justin Holiday
Holiday was the definition of a plug-and-play player this week.
Despite being signed just before the All-Star break, Holiday looked right at home in his first game as a Maverick. In the demolition of the Spurs, Holiday scored 15 points by making five three-pointers and additionally chipped in two steals.
While he only scored six points against the Lakers, he earned his first start in Dallas and showcased his defense and shooting chops. Holiday also exhibited his underrated playmaking ability, attacking closeouts and creating better looks for teammates. Holiday isn’t a game-changer, but he certainly provides more productive minutes than Frank Ntlikina and Theo Pinson.
“My plan was to come in and play hard,” Holiday said after the win over the Spurs. “If I get [shot opportunities], I’m pretty confident I’m going to make it.”
Stock Down: Paint Defense
After trading away Dorian Finney-Smith, most Mavericks’ fans expected the defense to regress.
This, however, is abysmal.
Dallas, in the four games since acquiring Irving, has been the worst paint defense in the league, allowing 67 paint points per game. The second-worst team, the Los Angeles Clippers, allowed 61.5 paint points per game during the same stretch.
Yes, Dallas is severely lacking a paint protector. Powell is not big enough, Wood and McGee have been too inconsistent. While Maxi Kleber’s return will help, he is still not a true center.
Yet, at some point, the team needs to take a look in the mirror. Nobody expects this team to be the defensive juggernaut it was last season, that much is clear. There seems to be, however, a clear lack of interior defensive by the Mavs big men, almost as if there is an expectation that Dončić and Irving will just bail the team out offensively.
When they don’t, you get losses like the one against the Lakers.
There are no easy solutions to this problem considering the lack of interior defensive talent on the roster, and no free agent is talented enough to be signed and come save the day. The coaching staff will have its hands full figuring out this problem for the umpteenth consecutive season. Yet, the players can provide one thing to help the coaching staff in this process.
Feb. 28 vs Indiana Pacers
March 2 vs Philadelphia 76ers
March 5 vs Phoenix Suns
Categories: 2022-23 Season, Mavs Fans For Life
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