Its been an eventful return to action for the Dallas Mavericks. Bouts with multiple sub .500 teams has proved to be a scrappy en devour for the club.
Here’s a quick rundown of the Mavs early 4-2 record since the All-Star break.
2/21 @ Orlando Magic
They looked dominate early putting the Orlando Magic away by 16 points. Luka Doncic poured in 33 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assist to lead the club. Kristaps Pozingis remained steady with 22 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assist and 5 blocks, but the story of this night was Maxi Kleber.
He dialed up a career-high 26 points while only missing three shots (10-13) to go along with three rebounds, an assist and block. The stellar shooting performance was capped by this beauty of a highlight courtesy of the Mavericks twitter page.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) February 22, 2020
The dub brought the Mavs road record to a strong 19-8 with one of the leagues worst on the horizon, the 17-42 Atlanta Hawks.
2/22 @ Atlanta Hawks
The second game of this back-to-back proved brutal. Luka and KP were both out due to rest. This made losing Jalen Brunson early in the first quarter a sick omen.
This play belongs in some grainy 1980s Bulls/Pistons highlight. Instead it happened five minutes ago and sent Brunson to the locker room. pic.twitter.com/WuCNg4bDCV
— Bobby Karalla (@bobbykaralla) February 23, 2020
Although the club plans to reassess Jalen’s injury missing the remainder of the season has been mentioned. The drama in Atlanta didn’t end there. After leading virtually the entire game Tre Young initiated a late surge the Mavs just couldn’t overcome. The Mavericks would go on to protest the eventual outcome which has yet to be resolved.
The NBA’s Last Two Minute Report confirmed that the Mavs have filed a protest and basically delayed comment until commissioner Adam Silver has made his decision. pic.twitter.com/Zy2iT6LfyR
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) February 23, 2020
Mark Cuban wasn’t shy about the debacle either. He took to Twitter as only he can. This gem was only the tip of the iceberg.
So they call a goaltend. They literally blew the whistle that it was a goaltend. There was a putback after the whistle. After review they said no goaltend but count the basket ? WTF is that ? That’s NBA officiating.
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) February 23, 2020
It’s clear he and the club have a just complaint. The NBA has yet to discipline him for the rant in combination with the games protest still unresolved.
2/24 vs Minnesota Timberwolves
A few nights later KP, Luka, and the Mavs took care of business versus the Minnesota Timberwolves in a sixteen point beat down. The night, however, belonged to JJ Barea who was playing his 627th game for the franchise. JJ passed Michael Finley for fifth all-time and now trails Dirk Nowitzki, Brad Davis, Derek Harper and Rolando Blackman in games played.
Facing the T-Wolves twice in one week bods well for a squad without its best player. In their second match-up since the All-Star break, Luka would miss the game with a sprained thumb. This convincing ten-point win was highlighted by a season-high 38 points from Kritsaps Porzingis. KP’s game continues to shine when needed most. Over the past ten games, he’s averaged 26.5 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks.
2/26 @ San Antonio Spurs
Against the Spurs, the team’s lone All-Star returned to elite form recording his 21st career & 13th season triple-double (26 pts, 14 ast, 10 rebs).
Believe it or not, Luka is just now turning 21 ?
Imagine what’s next for the Mavs’ star. pic.twitter.com/TDIRHsHpYO
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 28, 2020
As expected the Mavs took complete advantage of a slumping San Antonio Spurs squad who will likely miss the playoffs. If so it would be the first time since Greg Popovich’s first season as head coach (1996-97). Not to mention KP continues to impress putting up huge numbers. He finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds.
2/28 @ Miami Heat
On Luka’s birthday, the Heat proved to be too much for the Mavs. In the eight-point loss, the club struggled to find stops down the stretch. The night, however, belonged to the red hot Seth Curry. His hot streak continued pouring in 37 points on 8-9 from three. The Mavericks’ second loss since the break came to a top 3 eastern conference team.
Although squads rarely admit to moral victories this outcome was mildly anticipated.
The Mavs sit comfortably as the seventh rank team in the western conference. They have a 7.5 game lead on the eighth-ranked Memphis Grizzlies who continue to battle injuries.
It’s unlikely this gap will be closed any time soon so the playoffs are all but a lock.
At this point, health should be the central focus as the team rounds into playoff form.
Featured Image: Getty Images