Here’s our five takeaways from the Mavericks’ 109-91 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night.
Boban, Doncic provide the comedy: First of all, the serious stuff. Boban Marjanovic had 12 points in 10 minutes and he was a force in the second half when the Mavericks charged ahead and put the Sixers in the role of chasers. OK, now that that’s out of the way, we can talk about the 3-point shot that the 7-4 Marjanovic stuck with 21 seconds left to account for the final points of the game. He’s now 2-of-7 this season from 3-point range and is shooting 35.3 percent for his career. So what’s his plan for the 3-point contest during All-Star weekend? “No chance, for sure,” he said of the idea. “Still a work in progress. Loading.” To which Luka Doncic (who by the way is not expected to be in the 3-point contest next month), said: “Yeah, ahead of me,” when asked if Boban should be in the event. Informed of that, Marjanovic said: “My friend gave me green light? OK, I’ll try.” Much laughter ensued.
Maximum effort: It just seems like the world isn’t appreciating the kind of season Maxi Kleber is having. He’s averaging 8.9 points and 5.4 rebounds. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. He’s hitting 39.7 percent of his 3-point tries. And he’s shooting more than four of them per game. Lately, he’s been more impactful. On the six-game home stand, he averaged 12.3 points and shot 14-of-32 (43.8 percent) from beyond the arc. His 10 points and eight rebounds against the Sixers were big, as were his three blocked shots.
OK, now for the bad news: When you have six games at home and you’re not one of the NBA’s elite two or three teams, it’s hard to win them all. And the Mavericks didn’t even get close. They went 3-3 and their home record of 12-10 for the season is regrettable. As coach Rick Carlisle said, they would have liked to have won another game or two while piling up the home games, but “we are where we are.”
Less is more, maybe? The Mavericks shot only 27 3-pointers against the Sixers. They made 11 of them for 40.7 percent. That’s outstanding efficiency. The 27 heaves are by far the lowest number they’ve shot in any game this season. In the first five games of the home stand, they averaged 40.4 3-pointers. For reference, Philadelphia shot 37 3-pointers and only made nine (24.3 percent). The Mavericks are built to rely heavily on the 3-point shot. But their judicious use of the long ball against the Sixers led to huge productivity. They ended up shooting 50.6 percent for the game and after a disastrous first half, they actually ended up winning the points in the paint (54-46) and second-chance points (21-14). Overall, it was a very solid and very sensible offensive night.
Getting defensive: After the first five opponents on the home stand all shot at least 46 percent or better – including the Lakers’ 53 percent on Friday – the Sixers were limited to 37.8 percent from the field. That included a second half when Philly shot 34.9 percent and actually was worse from 2-point range (8-of-25, 32 percent) than they were from 3-point land (7-of-18, 38.9 percent). The Mavericks won the second half 68-41. They clearly have the ability to play solid defense. Much of it starts with rebounding, by the way. They blasted the Sixers on the boards, especially in the second half (31-16).