It’s been an odd few days for the Mavericks.
They had a rugged back-to-back situation and won at Memphis on the second night, which was a very solid victory.
Then, they got to Indiana and former Mavericks’ coach Rick Carlisle was out after contracting COVID-19, spoiling the first meeting between his old team and his new one.
The Mavericks, who have had a two-month virus when it comes to shooting 3-point shots (more on that momentarily), withered in the fourth quarter to fall back below .500. It continued a baffling season in which the Mavericks have looked very good at times and not so much at others.
So here’s our second-chance points that need to be made after the 106-93 loss at Indy.
LUKA’S INJURY SITUATION: Luka Dončić tweaked his left ankle in the second half and admitted postgame that he probably shouldn’t have kept playing. But that’s what he does. The competitor in him is stronger than the pragmatic side of his brain. But he’s clearly been favoring the left leg lately. That said, the numbers suggest that Luka on one leg is better than most players on two. He’s put up major stats since returning from a three-game hiatus when the injury initially occurred. That said, at some point, should the Mavericks intervene. For the long-term good of this season, might they be better served by sitting their superstar point guard for a week or so, letting him get right, then putting the nagging injury behind him and them? It’s a delicate issue. The Mavericks don’t want to fall any further behind the pack in the Western Conference. But it’s a topic that needs to be discussed, at the very least.
ABOUT THAT SHOOTING: This is all we have to say about the state of the Mavericks’ 3-point shooting. Forget about it. Don’t think. Just shoot. But maybe only after you’ve exhausted all avenues to the basket. Attacking the rim right now is the No. 1 goal on offense. Or at least, it should be. Even Luka said so after Friday’s loss. The Mavericks have slipped to 26th in the NBA in 3-point shooting at 32.7 percent. And, I hear you. It’s hard to believe four teams have shot it worse.
INTERESTING SHOT DISTRIBUTION: The Mavericks took 84 shots against the Pacers. Four players accounted for 69 of those shots (averaging more than 17 apiece). No other Maverick took more than three shots. That sort of disparity can cause some hesitancy among the other players when they do get an opportunity to shoot the ball. At the least, confidence can waver. This isn’t a knock on Luka, Kristaps Porzingis, Jalen Brunson and Tim Hardaway Jr. They are the Mavericks’ best players. But if support players don’t get some chances, it tends to make life harder on the heavy lifters.
FINNEY-SMITH STILL WORKING: Dorian Finney-Smith spent a lot of time guarding talented rookie Chris Duarte, who had piled up 23 points and six assists in the Pacers’ Wednesday win against New York. The Mavericks’ crack scouting department had identified Duarte as a key player that needed to be contained. Finney-Smith did that. Duarte shot just 2-of-10 and had only eight points.
DISTURBING NUMBERS: At least, not in a good way. The Mavericks haven’t won consecutive games since Nov. 12 and 15, when they beat San Antonio and Denver. They are 3-9 since then. Another revolting development? They are 2-7 against Eastern Conference foes. The days of feasting on that conference appear to be over.
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