It took some time, but the Mavs are finally who we thought they were.
The Dallas Mavericks began the season in an underwhelming fashion. Expectations were high for Luka Doncic and his team. Both Luka Doncic and his team got off to slow starts.
Last week, the Mavs were able to get it together.
After a disappointing loss to the Bulls last Sunday, the Mavs won three straight against the Rockets, Nuggets, and Magic. Luka Doncic regained his MVP hype by averaging 30.3 points per game, 12 rebounds per game, and 11.3 assists per game, which ultimately earned him Western Conference player of the Week (1/4-1/10).
1/4 @ Houston Rockets
The first game of the week against the Rockets was the first time we got to see “MVP” Luka. Doncic scored 33 points on 12-25 shooting (3-10 from three) and also tallied 16 rebounds and 11 assists. This was also the first game that Rick Carlisle rolled out a new starting lineup. Instead of starting Luka, Tim Hardaway Jr., Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Dwight Powell, Carlisle changed it up and went with Luka, Josh Richardson, DFS, Maxi Kleber, and Willie Cauley-Stein. Powell and Hardaway Jr. were now to come off the bench. Powell responded by scoring two points and grabbing two rebounds in 14 minutes.
THJ responded by scoring 30 points in 31 minutes while shooting 11-14 from the field and 8-10 from the long-range. Maxi Kleber had a donut in the score column, but he did grab nine rebounds, while fellow big man Willie Cauley-Stein scored 15 points and grabbed 7 boards in his starting debut. Dallas won 113-100.
1/7 @ Denver Nuggets
Carlisle stuck with that lineup for the next game in Denver. Both teams got off to a slow start, and the game looked like it would be a tough loss for Dallas. In the second half Luka and the Mavs game alive. Doncic had 38 points on 13-22 shooting (2-7 from three), 9 rebounds, and 13 assists, including a clutch assist to Maxi Kleber to take the lead in regulation. Luka also added a career-high 5 steals.
Speaking of Maxi, he scored 9 points, all of which game in either the fourth quarter or overtime, including a clutch three to take the lead with two seconds left in the fourth quarter. Josh Richardson had a pretty rough game until overtime when he scored five straight points to solidify Dallas’ lead. DFS shot 50% from three, and we got to see some productive Boban minutes. Bobi scored 12 on 5-7 shooting. The Mavs ended up winning in overtime 124-117.
Before the Mavs could leave Denver, three of them were quarantined. One of Josh Richardson, Jalen Brunson, or Dorian Finney-Smith tested positive for the coronavirus. The other two were contact traced, resulting in a longer stay in Colorado for those three than expected. This means the Mavs would be short-handed against Orlando.
1/9 vs Orlando Magic
When a team is shorthanded, guys have to step up, and that is exactly what Tim Hardaway Jr. (again!) and Trey Burke did. Hardaway was inserted back into the starting lineup, and once again, he responded. THJ had a game-high 36 points while shooting 12-20 from the field and 8-13 from three. Burke returned to bubble form, scoring 29 points on 11-13 shooting (7-8 from three). Luka had a slower night scoring the ball, finishing with 20 points, but he did record his second triple-double of the year by adding 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Rookie Josh Green got his first career start but played limited minutes. He finished with 3 boards. Wes Iwundu also got meaningful minutes against his former team. In 32 minutes, he did not score, but he did end with 6 rebounds and two steals. His presence was definitely felt defensively.
Even after their final win of the week, the good news continued. It was reported that Kristaps Porzingis would be questionable to play in Monday’s scheduled game against the Pelicans for the first time all season. He was listed as a probable starter and was officially active on Monday morning. It seemed like nothing could stop the Mavericks’ momentum except for maybe COVID.
That is exactly what happened. The Mavericks shut down their practice facility, and eventually, the game against New Orleans was postponed. More Mavs had entered health protocols. It is unclear as of now who tested positive and who has been contact-traced.
Dallas’ next scheduled game as of now is scheduled for Wednesday against the Hornets. It is unclear if the game will be played or if it is played, who will be in it.
The important thing is that the Mavericks appear to be back.
Whenever they do get to play again, we can assume that they will be led by their two stars, riding the momentum of a strong three-game win streak.
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