BOSTON – After Wednesday night, which actually wasn’t a bad shooting night by their standards, the Mavericks are hitting 34.4 percent of their three-point shots through the first 17 games.
That’s not good enough, from Jason Kidd’s vantage point.
It’s the lack of consistent outside shooting that has sent the Mavericks on a skid, losing three of their last four and five out of eight.
They haven’t won a road game since Oct. 27, although you can’t really hold that against them since they’ve only played three since then. They’ll have two cracks to get out of that slump over the weekend, at Toronto and Milwaukee.
The sad part of Wednesday’s 125-112 loss to the Boston Celtics is that the Mavericks played pretty salty ball in the second half. Whether or not the Celtics took their foot off the gas can be debated, but the Mavericks were a rattled-in three-pointer from Al Horford away from making this one very interesting in the final three minutes.
“We did a lot of good things in that second half, got a lot of good looks,” Kidd said. “We’ve said this over and over. We’ve gotten good looks. The shooters aren’t shooting at a high clip right now.
“But what I loved about Luka (is) he kept leading. He kept talking in the huddle to keep believing, keep trusting one another. And those guys on the floor did that. It wasn’t pretty, but Luka kept us in the game and C-Wood did a great job, too, performing on both ends.”
More on Luka Dončić and Christian Wood in a moment.
But the key for the Mavericks if you want to spin this forward is that they didn’t crater when they could have.
“We just got to stay together, figure it out,” Luka said. “Obviously, we didn’t get a win, but I’m proud of them. We stayed together when we were down 27 in a place like the Garden, which is not easy. That was key for the future.”
The Mavericks are hoping – no, expecting – to heat up from the three-point line. They can’t succeed with Tim Hardaway Jr. shooting 30 percent from the arc, Reggie Bullock shooting 29.5 percent and Dončić shooting 29.4 percent.
Those are three of their high-volume three-point takers.
They need to become three-point makers, too.
Here are our other takeaways from the loss at Boston.
MAKING A CONNECTION: Dončić had a fantastic second half, combining for 39 of the Mavericks’ 63 points. And a slew of Luka’s eight second-half assists went to Wood. In the fourth quarter, they had 20 of the 27 points Dallas scored. Is that the sort of run that will move McGee into the starting lineup at Toronto? Only Kidd and the coaching staff know the answer to that one for sure. But he hinted after the game that changes are always considered. And when you’ve lost three of four, that magnifies the issues in the eyes of armchair point guards all over the MFFL nation. “They have a great connection,” Kidd said. “They did a great job against one of the best teams in the league. Hopefully, we can grow from this and we can have those two out there in Toronto.” Not sure if you should read anything into that last statement, but clearly Kidd wants to stop these losses from mounting and if changing the lineup can serve as a low-level shock treatment for this team, could it hurt? Luka sounds like he’s all for it. “For me, it’s easy,” Luka said of playing with Wood. “Just pass him the ball and he’s going to do a lot of good things. He was great for us. He’s going to do this a lot of times.”
THIS JUST IN, BOSTON IS GOOD: You don’t get the best record in the NBA by accident. Heck, the Celtics are 13-0 against everybody outside of Cleveland and Chicago (1-4 against those two). Jayson Tatum had 37 points and 13 rebounds, which is turning into a normal night for him. “This is a team that’s been together for some time,” Kidd said. “They understand their roles. They can shoot the three. Not just take it, but shoot it at a high clip. Tatum’s playing at an MVP (level). (Jaylen) Brown is right there behind him. And then (Marcus) Smart is making plays. They’re unselfish and that’s hard to guard when you look at Boston and Golden State when they continuously keep moving, someone’s going to be open. They just make the right plays.” Something that the Mavericks are capable of doing. They just need to do it more consistently.
WHAT REALLY MATTERS: A lot of the Mavericks are foreign-born players and did not grow up celebrating Thanksgiving. But they all know about it, and what it stands for. They know it’s not just a chance to get a big meal of turkey and dressing. For Luka Dončić, he got an early start on Thanksgiving before Wednesday’s game. He spotted a young boy with a sign that said he beat cancer. Luka approached him and handed him the shoes he had worn during his early warmups. “That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “I even got a little emotional. But to be able to help him through the process means everything to me. That’s what it’s all about.” This isn’t to diminish what Luka did during the game. His 42 points, nine assists and eight rebounds were awesome. But what he did beforehand had more impact.