It was a perfect home stand for the Mavericks as they went 4-0 to move their overall record to 10-5. Here’s our takeaways from Friday’s 143-101 beatdown of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Hardaway makes his case: Two nights after he tied his season high with 20 points in his first start of the year, Tim Hardaway Jr. followed it up with 16 points in just 18 minutes against the Cavaliers. Coach Rick Carlisle had mentioned Wednesday that Seth Curry would return to the starting lineup when he got healthy. But now? Carlisle said Friday that Hardaway is “making a really strong case” and that it would have to be a consideration to keep Hardaway in the starting lineup moving forward. It’s hard to argue with the results. Hardaway has made eight of nine 3-pointers in the two games after missing 18 of 21 in the previous four games. Hardaway seems to be fitting with the starters. But Curry was doing fine, too. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. They both could start, possibly together, depending on certain matchups moving forward.
Did somebody call security? As in, ball security? The Mavericks suffered only five turnovers against the Cavs and combined with a 49-34 rebounding advantage, that allowed the Mavericks to hoist a remarkable 100 shots, which is a lot for a non-overtime game. With the kind of shotmaking roll the Mavericks are on right now, getting that many shots is a sure-fire way to give them a great chance of winning.
Pine guys mulch up the Cavs: The Mavericks were only ahead 29-26 after one quarter. But the Mavericks scored the first 10 points of the second quarter with five reserves on the floor. That was the spark that they needed as they rolled up a 24-point halftime lead. Maxi Kleber, Delon Wright, Justin Jackson, Jalen Brunson and Boban Marjanovic dominated the Cavaliers. Jackson would end the night with a season-best 19 points as the bench wound up outscoring the Cleveland reserves 64-28. This sort of contribution helps in so many ways. Every player feels like they will get a chance to produce because Carlisle loves to milk a hot hand.
Numbers game: The Mavericks won all four games on this home stand by a combined 105 points. That’s misleading, of course with the two blowouts, but the first two opponents, Toronto and San Antonio, are strong competitors in theory, even though San Antonio is well below .500. The combined record of the four opponents is 22-38. You can only beat the teams that are on the schedule, so give the Mavericks credit for taking care of business.
And now, the hard part: The Mavericks have had a relatively soft schedule through 15 games. That will change in a hurry. Starting with Houston on Sunday, they will play four consecutive teams that are .500 or better, three of them on the road. The only home game is against the Los Angeles Clippers, who are one of the favorites to win the NBA title.