After going 1-2 during the three-game preliminary round of the Las Vegas Summer League, the Mavs’ path to the championship is now laid out before them.
From here on out, it’s a single-elimination tournament all the way to the title game. Unfortunately Dallas didn’t earn a record good enough to receive a bye in the first round, so the Mavericks will have to win an extra game to advance in competition. Should Dallas lose Wednesday’s contest, a Thursday game will be the club’s last in Vegas.
The No. 15-seeded Mavericks will take on the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday at 9 p.m. Central time. The full tournament bracket can be found here.
In case you missed them, here’s a quick recap of the Mavs’ first three games in Las Vegas.
In the Mavs’ Summer League opener, Jonathan Gibson put on an absolute show, draining six 3s and leading all scorers with 30 points as he and the Mavericks cruised to victory.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) July 10, 2016
Gibson is no stranger to scoring the ball — he averaged 42 points per game in China last season, for crying out loud — but to say he burst onto the NBA radar with that performance would be an understatement. He hadn’t played more than six minutes total in any Summer League since 2012-13, when he scored a combined 39 points in five appearances for the Boston Celtics. He nearly matched that total in one game with the Mavericks. The 28-year-old Gibson is one of the oldest players in Las Vegas this summer, but through three games he’s played well enough to perhaps make a team give the New Mexico State grad his first-ever chance in an NBA preseason game. What a story that would be.
Meanwhile for the Mavericks, Justin Anderson scored 19 points and grabbed six rebounds, a convincing performance from the second-year wing. He was extremely vocal throughout the entire contest, oftentimes talking more and louder than even the coaches. His teammates followed his lead, and the club put together a very solid defensive performance in the win.
Anderson and the Mavs struggled to repeat their performance in the second game in Vegas, falling to the Raptors as the club suffered through a rough first half en route to its first loss. There was this highlight play though, a nice dribble-drive and dunk from starting 2-guard McKenzie Moore, who’s quietly put together a solid Summer League on both ends.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) July 11, 2016
One big bright spot for the Mavericks in this contest was second-string center Jameel Warney. The undrafted Stony Brook product put up 14 points and eight rebounds, and that doesn’t begin to tell the story of just how active he is on the defensive end. He’s a bit undersized to play center, but he makes up for it with an extremely high motor and a fearless attitude on both ends.
The Mavs battled through a bit of a sluggish second and third quarter in Tuesday’s showdown with the Celtics, but fought back strong in the fourth quarter to make a game out of what was at one point a lopsided affair. Anderson bounced back brilliantly from his difficult 4-of-16 performance in the second contest, connecting on six treys and scoring a game-high 29 points. He also made this highlight play, and I’m still trying to figure out how it’s even possible.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) July 12, 2016
Gibson, meanwhile, added 26 points of his own. He’s sixth in Vegas in scoring, while Anderson is 11th.
After the game, Anderson stressed the importance of keeping things simple heading into the tournament. That’s been a huge theme for him this entire summer — as excited as the organization and fans are for his development as a player, Anderson must stay focused on improving at all the little things: Drive here, pass there, switch here, finish there. Like many young players, his development isn’t as grand and glamorous as you might expect it to be. He’s working to get better at things that we might not notice, so that’s why he was upset today after his 29-point game. He’s hard on himself because, for him, it’s not about the individual results. It’s about the process.
The results will be most important for the Mavericks in the single-elimination tournament, obviously, and that begins tomorrow. One loss from here on out means the Mavs will be eliminated from contention for the championship. After every win, however, that trophy becomes closer and closer.
That’s the beauty of tournaments like this one. The preliminary round means nothing once the tourney begins. From then on, all that matters is what’s happening on the court. If Anderson and Gibson can continue leading this team, Dallas has the talent to beat just about anyone. It all starts tomorrow.