Our five takeaways from the Mavericks’ 112-103 victory at Indiana on Monday night.
Finney-Smith’s shooting: Dorian Finney-Smith hit 3-of-4 shots from 3-point land and finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Over the last seven games, he’s shot 50 percent from long range and averaged 10.6 points and 8.1 rebounds. For the season, he’s shooting 39.3 percent from 3-point land, a whopping improvement over the 31.1 percent he shot last season. Finney-Smith, who signed a contract last summer reported to be worth $12-million over three years, clearly is one of the best values in the NBA at the rate he’s producing. And, he’s got a repeat of his college career going in one respect. At Florida (and Virginia Tech for a season before his three seasons with the Gators), Finney-Smith increased his scoring average every year. In four years with the Mavericks he’s done the same thing to the point that he’s averaging 9.7 points per game this season. He can chalk that up to the massive improvement in his 3-point shooting.
At the 50-game mark: The Mavericks reached the 50-game mark with a 31-19 record, which is their best ledger after 50 games since being 33-17 in 2014-15 and 35-15 in the championship season of 2010-11. Not that it means much, other than the Mavericks are well on their way to clinching a playoff berth. They are a lot closer to the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference than they are to the No. 9 Portland Trail Blazers. So their stated goal of making the playoffs this season would seem to be hard to miss. But now they know they are going to have a great opportunity to rise in the West standings. If they haven’t already, they should start aiming a little higher. Home-court advantage in the first round, anybody?
Still road hogs: Ring up another win on the road for the team that just seems destined to be better in hostile environments than it is at American Airlines Center. They now are 17-7 on the road and Indiana is the seventh team currently in the playoff picture that the Mavs have beaten on the road. So what happens to them when they are putting on the visiting uniforms? “We play well on the road,” Kristaps Porzingis said. “I don’t know what it is. That’s just us. Or at home, when you want to do so well in front of your own fans, sometimes you do too much. That happened to me early in the season. That’s something that’s maybe going on at home.”
Keep it rolling, KP: Porzingis sat out Saturday’s game. But on Friday and Monday, he was a monster. In games against Houston and Indiana – both solid playoff teams – Porzingis had 73 points and 24 rebounds. Against the Pacers, he had a season-best 38 points and 12 rebounds. And those 38 points came in varied ways. In the first half, he had 19 points and was 5-of-7 from 3-point range. In the second half, he hit just 1-of-6 3-pointers, but he made all 10 of his free throws and finished with another 19 points. That’s getting it done in multiple ways, taking what the defense is allowing and, all the while, helping draw defenses to make life simpler for his teammates.
Rebounding on the rise: The Mavericks have been attacking the boards lately. They crushed the Pacers in the rebounding department 51-40, which helped offset the Pacers’ 56 points in the paint (against just 30 for the Mavericks). It’s the third game in a row they’ve won the rebounding game, and in all of those they have secured more than 50 boards. They are 28-13 in games when they have snatched 50 rebounds or more.