While the ride has been turbulent at times, the Mavericks are proud owners of a three-game winning streak.
They have a chance to close out the five-game home stand with a 4-1 record on Monday against Brooklyn.
We can all talk about how the Mavericks have had a great chance to win all eight of their games so far.
They also could have lost a couple of the ones they ended upwinning.
So for now, they are probably right where they need to be, which is 5-3 with some quality wins at Brooklyn and at home against Toronto.
What they have done is put themselves in solid position after 10 percent of the NBA season has elapsed. Eight games isn’t a great sample size, but so far the Mavericks are doing things a lot differently than they did last season.
More on that in a moment.
The Mavericks are rolling offensively and that stands to reason – because of our first of three takeaways from Friday’s 111-110 win over the Raptors.
LUKA PLAYING A DIFFERENT GAME: Luka Dončić had his eighth consecutive game with at least 30 points to start this season. The list of people who have done that is as follows: Wilt Chamberlain, 23 games to start the 1962-63 season. Wilt Chamberlain, eight games to start the 1959-60 season. Luka, eight games to start the 2022-23 season. That’s it. And against the Raptors, Dončić had 35 points, including some ridiculous plays like the one he made at the end of the third quarter to put him over the 30-point plateau. He sent through his legs three times, made two or three spins, fell backward and launched a one-legged shot that went in. It was pure poetry and left the Raptors totally confused about how to guard Luka. The box-and-one, the double-teams, nothing worked. “Luka’s playing chess at a very high level,” coach Jason Kidd said, using the thinking-man’s game as an analogy for what Luka is doing to opponents. “That’s what he does. He has seen everything, he enjoys the defense that can be changed on the fly to help with his creativity. And he had some dump-offs, too, where we had some weak-side threes that didn’t (go in). It makes him special.”
CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE: Kidd, by the way, got it right early in this season when he was adamantly repeating that this is a different team from last year’s. It’s No. 2 in the NBA in offensive rating and middle of the pack defensively. While Kidd hopes the defense grows some teeth as the season progresses, until it does, he’s letting the offense carry the Mavericks. It’s easier to do with Luka. And with their 3-point shooting being only average so far (19th-best percentage in the league), the Mavericks’ efficiency is coming from inside the arc, where they are hitting more than 59 percent of their shots, best in the NBA. They also have shot more free throws than anybody else. As Kidd said after the Toronto game: “Those points count, too.” It’s interesting that the Mavericks are embracing the two-point shot, to a certain extent, after several seasons of analytics backed the theory that teams had to be 3-point dependent to succeed at a high level. Maybe these Mavericks are finding an alternative method. It’s clear that Kidd has been able to adapt and his team is doing so, too. It’s not always easy to make changes like putting Dwight Powell into the lineup for JaVale McGee. But so far, it’s hard to argue with the coach’s decision-making.
SURPRISING – EVEN TO LUKA: Since we can’t justify any more takeaways that don’t have something to do with Luka, here’s another one: he said his moves even surprise him. “Yeah, sometimes I do,” he said. “The best play was my hook shot for sure. I laughed about that one.” That came when the shot clock was winding down and he had to get off a shot. He went with the right-handed hook and afterward said “I like my coffee with a little Kareem.” OK, so Luka’s skyhook was a little more ground-bound than Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s. The point was well-taken. And Luka said his attacking of the paint has been something he’s been working on since someone (he wasn’t saying who) said Luka was incapable of mastering the midrange game. “The reason it started is somebody told me I can’t shoot pull-up twos, so that’s why I started shooting them,” he said. “Just attacking the paint. The first couple games, I was relying too much on the three. Another thing I was so happy about (against Toronto) is I shot 50 percent from 3. But just going to the paint, they were collapsing a lot. Just attacking the paint, that’s my mentality.”
Share and comment