Never accuse Luka Dončić of not keeping things light.
With a nearly straight face, he was asked about his axe-throw of a slam-dunk as the Mavericks were pulling away from the Portland Trail Blazers by 25 points on Friday night.
“I’m used to it,” he said. “I have the most bounce on the team.”
Coming from a guy who spends most of his time on the court with both feet planted on the court, it was a funny line and a good one to cut through the tension of what is looking like a difficult stretch that is upcoming for the Mavericks.
Why? Well, with that teaser, we’ll jump into the takeaways from the 130-110 blowout of the Blazers.
IT NEVER FAILS: When Dwight Powell had to leave the game and retreat to the locker room, it reinforced an age-old NBA theory that when a wave of injuries hits a team, it’s always at the same position. In this case, Maxi Kleber already has been lost for an extended period with a hamstring tear. Powell is going to “probably” miss Saturday’s game at Cleveland, as Jason Kidd said in his postgame chat with reporters. And his tone did not sound good about a quick return for Powell. That means the Mavericks’ arsenal of big men – thought all along to be their deepest position – is down to Christian Wood and JaVale McGee. And they’re facing one of the biggest teams in the league Saturday in Cleveland. Kidd said Friday that there’s nobody coming off the street that’s going to fill the shoes of Kleber, who along with Powell represents the core of the interior defense that the Mavericks have. It’s going to be interesting to see how Kidd fills this void and, if necessary, if the Mavericks go beating the bushes to try to find a big man in the G-League or via a trade.
SPEAKING OF WOOD: The Mavericks ran the offense through Wood in the second quarter and he responded with a major impact. He had 15 of his season-high 32 points in that quarter, when the Mavericks jammed on the gas for 41 points. They were never threatened in the second half. Wood is not going to be able to carry all the load that is left from the absences of Powell and Kleber. But Kidd praised the defensive effort Wood is giving and obviously he will have to be one of their offensive heavy lifters. But a heavy dose of small ball is coming in the Mavericks’ future. Dorian Finney-Smith has played center before. He’ll probably have to play it again. But it doesn’t help that this road trip starts in Cleveland then features two games at Minnesota, with the Wolves having Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns. That’s a lot of length that the Mavericks are going to have to deal with when they are depleted on the front line.
LIGHTING IT UP: The one way the Mavericks can combat a lack of size is by heating up from the three-point arc, which they did against the Blazers. They hit 18-of-43 triples and if they can hit 41.9 percent of their long balls going forward, it will go a long way toward easing the pain of not having two of their primary big men. Said Jason Kidd: “We got to figure out who we are. We’re built around Luka. So for us to be able to knock down open shots, because he can create them, that’s something that we’ve struggled (with) early in the season. Hopefully as we get going, we can catch a hot roll.” Now would be the most opportune time to do so.
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