The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Grizzlies

Final: Mavs 114, Grizzlies 80

Box Score | Highlights

Behind the Box Score

The Mavs led 31-13 after the first quarter. Their 18-point lead was the club’s largest advantage after the opening frame since Nov. 13, 2014, when Dallas led by 28 against Philly. The 13 points the Mavs allowed were the fewest they allowed in the first quarter since Feb. 11, 2015, when they gave up just nine points against Utah.

Dallas held a 56-30 lead at halftime. It was their largest halftime lead of the season, and the fewest points the Mavs allowed in the opening half since that same Nov. 13, 2014 game against the 76ers.

Harrison Barnes took 11 free throws in the first half alone. Though he didn’t attempt any in the second, it still represented his second-highest total for a game as a Maverick, and third-highest in his career.

Notebook

  • J.J. Barea doesn’t start very often, but when he does, he enjoys himself. Tonight Barea scored 20 points, grabbed five boards, and handed out five assists, good for his sixth-career 20/5/5 game. He did it on a saucy 8-of-11 shooting, displaying his ability to dupe defenders into doing one thing when he was planning on doing something else.

    The 33-year-old point guard is having the best season of his career in many ways, averaging his most points and assists per game ever, with his fifth-highest field goal percentage and fourth-best 3-point percentage. He continues to carry the second unit with his playmaking, and his ability to see the floor and read defenses has helped Dwight Powell, Yogi Ferrell, and others develop any time they play with him. He’s a magician, able to continuously find cracks in the defense despite not having the size or top-end speed as virtually anyone he faces on any given night.

  • Dorian Finney-Smith made his long-awaited return to action tonight, after sitting out with right knee quadriceps tendinitis since all the way back on Nov. 12. After leading the entire team in games played during his rookie season in 2016-17, it’s understandable that the former Florida Gator was chomping at the bit to get back on the floor. Perhaps his biggest area of development over the summer was intended to be a smoothed-out jump shot. Unfortunately, due to his injury we haven’t had the chance to see too much of it, but Finney-Smith did show it off at one point early on.

    That’s a huge improvement in three areas over the jumper we saw last season. (See below.)

    First, it’s a quicker shot, which makes it tougher for a defender to contest. Second, there’s no hitch toward the top of the jumper. Whereas last season he brought the ball behind his head, this season it’s a smooth rise-and-release motion. Finally, he now shoots the ball toward the apex of his jump as opposed to on the way down, as was the case last season. Finney-Smith hit 1 of 3 3-pointers in his first game back. Obviously as time goes on he’s going to get many, many more reps both in games and during practice. That’s going to be an extremely important part of his offensive game moving forward, so it’s good to see

  • Due to a combination of Finney-Smith’s return and Dennis Smith Jr. sitting out the game with a sore left knee (he is expected to play on Sunday against Houston), the Mavs had a big bench for a change. We’re used to seeing three-guard lineups with the second unit, but tonight Dallas rolled out a lineup featuring Yogi Ferrell at point guard flanked by Finney-Smith, Harrison Barnes, and Doug McDermott on the wing, plus a center. That’s one of the biggest lineups the club has played all season. The NBA these days is all about having several wings who can defend multiple positions and at least shoot the 3, if not do more. Clearly Barnes can do much more, and McDermott has shown the ability to create for himself off the dribble as well. The Mavs have played smaller than most this season in large part because of Finney-Smith’s absence, and of course the team added size to the roster by trading for McDermott. Suddenly, Dallas has three big wings who can all seemingly share the floor together. I’m curious to see how much those guys play together the rest of this season and, potentially, beyond.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (21-45) will play the Houston Rockets (51-14) on Sunday at American Airlines Center at 6 p.m. Central.

  • Game 66: Mavs vs. Grizzlies

    Harrison Barnes Scores 25 vs. Grizzlies | March 10, 2018

    Harrison Barnes leads the Mavericks to a home win over the Grizzlies with 25 points and seven rebounds.

    The Fast Break: Mavs at Grizzlies

    Final: Mavs 95, Grizzlies 94

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    The Mavericks won the third quarter by 19 points, their best point differential in a third quarter since Nov. 28, 2015 against the Nuggets. That night, Dallas outscored Denver 25-5 in the third quarter of a home win.

    The Mavs have now won three consecutive third quarters by nine points, 12 points, and 19 points.

    It should be noted that Dennis Smith Jr. played every crunch-time minute in this game. The rook had a much smoother performance tonight than against the longer, more athletic Boston defense. Credit to the 19-year-old for bouncing back and producing in this one.

    Notebook

  • How ’bout this?


  • This game was a tale of two halves. Memphis was the more energetic team in the first half and the Mavs couldn’t make their open shots, leading to a pretty bleak 56-39 score at the break. But then the third quarter came around; typically the Mavs’ Achilles heel became their greatest strength tonight. Dallas was a different team after halftime, playing with energy on defense and in transition, chasing down 50/50 balls, and attacking the rim. It was the complete opposite of the team’s first-half performance and continued their run of strong second-half play ever since the Minnesota game.

  • Harrison Barnes was a bad man tonight. After his potential game-winner rolled off the rim at the end of regulation against Boston on Monday night, Barnes admitted he’s got to do better as a closer. Barnes has actually been one of the more efficient crunch-time players in the league this season — by field goal percentage at least — but of course he’s going to be critical of himself after that shot rimmed out in a tough loss. He more than made up for it tonight, though, hitting a couple big shots late in the game to keep the Mavs in front, including the game-winner of course. Barnes finished with 22 points and nine rebounds.

  • Dennis Smith Jr. got off to another tough start from the field, but he was huge in the third quarter, hitting three 3-pointers and generally just running the offense better. This was Smith’s third meeting with the Grizzlies this season, so by now the opponent had a pretty thorough scouting report on his strengths and weaknesses. Things were difficult at the beginning. But whatever happened or was said at halftime seemed to light a fire under Smith, and he came out in the third quarter a completely different player: way more confident, way less hesitant. That’s the kind of player Dallas hopes he can be every night.

  • This win brought along a couple teachable moments. For starters, Dallas missed a few free throws in the closing seconds that would have completely changed the complexion of the game. Instead of Smith taking a shot to win with 10 seconds left, the Mavs would have been taking free throws to ice the game, for example. And Smith’s game-winner attempt probably came a few seconds too early, leaving enough time for the Grizzlies to go the other way and score to go ahead. But hey, the Mavs still won the game. Everyone feels great, and they should. When they go back and watch the film of that last minute, they’ll know there’s a happy ending on the other side of that rough patch. This is going to benefit them going forward.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (4-15) will play the Oklahoma City Thunder (7-9) on Saturday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs at Grizzlies

    Final: Grizzlies 96, Mavs 91

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    Normally the Mavs don’t pursue a ton of offensive rebounds because of the way it can affect their transition defense, but that wasn’t the case at all tonight. Dallas dominated the glass, collecting 18 offensive boards on the night. It’s the most the team has secured in a game since Dec. 9, 2015. Maybe the Mavericks are reconsidering their strategy, or maybe it was a matchup-specific gameplan. Time will tell.

    Tyreke Evans had an awesome night, but he was especially dangerous late in quarters. The veteran scored seven total points in the final eight seconds of quarters in this game, with five of those points coming inside one second remaining. Teams are always going to get some last-second buckets to beat the shot clock or to close out quarters, but very rarely do you see the same player do it three times in a row throughout a game. Those points certainly came in handy for Memphis as the game wore on.

    Notebook

  • This was a wild game with a crazy fourth quarter that featured a few plays that easily could’ve gone either way. You wouldn’t expect a game between these two teams to go any other way, really; it always seems like they play close ones at FedEx Forum. The Mavs fell down by as many as 22 points tonight and mounted a brilliant comeback effort in the second half, ultimately taking the lead with just a few minutes to go in the game. But Mike Conley drained a shot clock-beating long 3-pointer to reclaim the lead and Memphis never looked back. This was a great display of intangibles like heart, grit, toughness, and so on — it would’ve been easy for the Mavs to tuck their tails between their legs after falling behind so early on, but they fought back and made things interesting. It will also prove to be a terrific learning experience for Dennis Smith Jr., who before tonight really hadn’t run the offense in certain late-game situations. The Grizzlies are very tough to beat at home, but the Mavs nearly pulled it off.

  • Harrison Barnes has gotten to the free throw line as often as he wants this season, but this was his first game in a while when he was also efficient from the field, too. It’s way too early in the season of course to worry about shooting percentages, because even the best players in the world go through prolonged shooting slumps here and there throughout an 82-game season. But it was nice to see Barnes finally sink some jumpers in addition to some shots around the rim. The Mavs will certainly need him.

  • Wesley Matthews continued his fiery shooting in this one, especially in the second half. He hit four 3-pointers in the third quarter alone to help lead the Mavs comeback. He’s had some enormous quarters throughout this season, most notably the second quarter against Golden State earlier this week. He’s more than bounced back from his 0-of-7 night against Sacramento in Game 2 of the season, which has been good to see. He probably won’t shoot 70 percent from behind the arc for the rest of the season, but the Mavs will happily take 40 percent, I can promise you that.

  • Devin Harris (personal reasons) and Seth Curry (left tibia stress reaction) didn’t play in this one. That meant more minutes for Matthews, especially, who played more than 40 minutes last night and was up in the mid-30s again tonight. That dude would probably have played all 96 if Rick Carlisle let him.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (1-5) will play the Phildelphia 76ers (1-4) on Saturday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Thunder

    Final: Mavs 104, Thunder 89

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    The Mavs scored 60 points in the first half, the fourth time in the 24 games since the lineup change with at least 60. They’d reached that mark just three times in their first 38 games of the season. Dallas is now 7-0 this season when scoring at least 60 before the break.

    Seth Curry reached double-figures for the 20th time in his last 22 appearances, and scored 20 for his fourth straight game and fifth in his last six. Four ties the longest streak by any Mavericks guard since Monta Ellis scored 20+ in five straight games in November 2013, per Basketball-Reference. Harrison Barnes also has a streak of five straight games of his own this season at the forward spot.

    Dirk Nowitzki scored 18 points tonight and is now just 20 away from 30,000 for his career. He’ll become just the sixth player in NBA history to reach that milestone.

    Notebook

  • Dallas is now 15-9 after making the lineup change on Jan. 12. That’s a 51-win pace. The incredible mid-season turnaround continued tonight with another quality win against almost a certainly playoff-bound Western Conference team, the Mavs’ second in three days. Most encouragingly, the team is so much more athletic now than it was three weeks ago. Nerlens Noel and Yogi Ferrell bring a quickness to their position that Dallas hasn’t had in some time, and Seth Curry continues to be a mismatch nightmare for switched bigs. Those elements alone have helped to propel this team forward on both ends of the floor, and the added boosts off the bench from Salah Mejri, Devin Harris, and Dorian Finney-Smith give the Mavs the possibility to play 48 minutes of hyper-quick, end-to-end basketball. That’s going to help them as they continue to make this playoff push.

  • The Mavericks really seemed to create quality shot opportunities whenever they wanted. The offense looked smooth and comfortable for virtually the entire game, which is a testament to the guards as much as anything, including the still-new Quinn Cook. Russell Westbrook is tremendous at causing chaos on that end by blitzing passing lanes, but the Mavericks rarely put themselves in position to commit a catastrophic turnover. And when the ball is moving the way it was tonight, that’s going to lead to good things more often than not. The Mavs’ offense has been on cruise control since the Noel trade, and it’s been awfully fun to watch. Wesley Matthews and Devin Harris found Noel for alley-oops on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter, which is an encouraging sign. As the 22-year-old center continues to practice with his new teammates more, they’ll all likely become more aware of where he’ll be in certain situations. More importantly, though, they simply need to get used to looking for him. Before this trade, Dwight Powell was the only player Dallas could throw lobs to, and he was never playing a huge amount of minutes. Now they have Noel, and he can play 35 minutes a night, which means there can be a lob threat on the floor for 48 minutes if that’s how Dallas wants to play it. That lone can open up things on the outside for the offense, and we’re starting to see those benefits.

  • This was the Mavs’ third straight home win and fifth in their last six games. Why is it notable that Dallas is defending its home court so effectively lately? The team’s next three games all come at home: Lakers on Tuesday, Nets on Friday, and Suns on Saturday. Considering how tight the playoff race is at the moment, the Mavericks need every win they can get, and with three straight games coming up against teams currently out of the playoff picture, this is as good a time as ever to keep that home cookin’ going.

  • Wesley Matthews returned to action tonight and made it clear pretty quickly why he was missed during his brief absence. He played some phenomenal defense in the third quarter, but unfortunately just before the end of the frame, while attacking the offensive glass in a way that would impress even Russell Westbrook, the second-year Maverick landed awkwardly and stayed on the floor for a moment, before rising and walking directly to the locker room. He returned to the bench a few minutes later and did check back into the game in the fourth quarter. Stay tuned for any updates as they come.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (26-36) will play the Los Angeles Lakers (19-43) on Tuesday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Grizzlies

    Final: Mavs 104, Grizzlies 100

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    After scoring just 0.870 points per possession in the first quarter, the Mavericks offense ignited in the middle quarters for 1.476 and 1.273 points per possession in the second and third, respectively.

    Nerlens Noel became the first Maverick to have a 15-point, 15-rebound game before his 23rd birthday since Dirk Nowitzki. He joins the German, Roy Tarpley, Jason Kidd, and Samaki Walker as the only other Mavericks to achieve that feat before turning 23.

    Dirk scored 10 points tonight and is now just 38 points away from scoring 30,000 for his career. He’ll become only the sixth player in NBA history to reach that milestone. With the Mavs’ next four games at home after this one, there’s a really good chance he’ll do it in Dallas.

    Notebook

  • This is now three wins in a row at home for the Mavs, and they had another solid showing against a quality team. Protecting home floor is a particularly relevant point of conversation because the Mavs’ next four games come at home, with the first coming against the Thunder on Sunday night. Dallas had to grind this one out after holding a nine-point lead for a while, but braved a Grizzlies comeback behind a Dirk Nowitzki strip against Marc Gasol, an improbable key play. But this was a big close-out win for the Mavericks, especially after what happened against Atlanta two nights ago. The young Mavs have to figure out how to close the door on the opposition, and tonight could prove to be an important step in that growth process for the team.

  • Nerlens Noel got his first start as a Maverick tonight and he did not disappoint. The 22-year-old finished with 15 points, 17 rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and a steal. The last few games he’s had to guard much bigger, much stronger centers (DeMarcus Cousins, Hassan Whiteside, and Dwight Howard), and while Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph fit a similar physical profile as those other guys, Noel does possess a quickness advantage over the Grizzlies’ bigs, and that was on display tonight. One play which stood out most of all came in the first half, when Noel ran the floor with Seth Curry and Dallas created an alley-oop opportunity within six seconds of the possession.

    That’s pretty astonishing athleticism from a 6-foot-11 center. Noel’s future is extremely bright if he can continue to develop, but he’s already a dynamic force at his positions on both ends of the floor.

  • Perhaps the most underrated element of Noel’s game, however, is his passing ability. These aren’t plays we typically see centers make.

    Noel is an exceptional athlete for his position and he’s good around the rim, but the passing makes him even more dangerous, especially in the pick-and-roll. If he can pass like that out of short rolls more often, it prevents defenses from packing the paint because they risk giving up wide-open 3-pointers on the outside. That’s got to be a terrifying proposition for opponents.

  • Seth Curry is still doing good stuff. This was his third straight game with at least 20 points, now the longest such streak of his career. He shot well in halfcourt and transition opportunities, changed speeds off the dribble, and continued to create for others within the offense. He’s becoming a pretty dang good player, and that can easily get lost in all of the Noel hype, and Harrison Barnes having another big fourth quarter, and Dirk’s approach to 30K, and so on.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (25-36) will play the Oklahoma City Thunder (35-26) on Sunday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • Here’s how the Mavs can finish 5th, 6th, or 7th in the West

    This has been one of the wildest regular seasons in recent Mavs history. The campaign started with a 9-4 burst and so far has ended with a 7-1 sprint to the finish, and nothing in between failed to provide drama, fireworks, or both.

    It’s only fitting, then, that a season which took so many twists and turns has one more big one in store for this team: Dallas won’t know who it’s playing in the postseason until around midnight.

    The fifth, sixth, and seventh seeds are all still in play, which means the Mavericks’ potential opponents in Round One include the Clippers (fourth), Thunder (third), and Spurs (second). Each series would produce its own unique set of storylines: Dallas and San Antonio have squared off in the postseason six times before, the Mavs and OKC have faced off twice, and the DeAndre Jordan saga generated all sorts of hot sports opinions around the country for weeks.

    The Mavs can only play one of them in the first round, though, and one of the crazier things about this team’s destiny is that — no matter how in control it was even two days ago — the team’s fate isn’t necessarily in its own hands anymore. What happens elsewhere this evening involving Memphis and Portland has just as much to do with the playoffs as what happens in Dallas.

    Here’s your guide to scoreboard-watching tonight.

    Dallas will finish No. 5 if…

    The Mavs beat the Spurs in Dallas tonight AND the Blazers lose in Portland to the Nuggets.

    Portland has a sparkling 27-13 home record this season, but there’s no such thing as a sure thing in today’s NBA. It’s important to point out that if the Mavericks win tonight, they can finish no lower than sixth in the West. Currently tied in the standings with the Grizzlies at 42-39, Dallas owns the tiebreaker between the two clubs and would clinch a higher seed should their records match. Memphis is in Golden State tonight as the Warriors go for the single-season wins record.

    If both Dallas and Memphis win AND Portland loses, the three teams would finish with the same record but Dallas would earn the higher seed based on combined winning percentage against both teams. The Mavs went 2-1 against Portland and 3-1 against Memphis and would therefore earn the fifth seed.

    First round opponent: Clippers

    Dallas will finish No. 6 if…

    Portland wins OR Memphis loses.

    The Blazers lead the Mavs by one game in the standings, so a Portland win would guarantee Dallas would finish sixth or lower, independent of the Mavs/Spurs result. Similarly, if the Grizzlies lose, the Mavs could not finish beneath them in the standings based on the tiebreaker rule.

    This doesn’t mean the result of Dallas/San Antonio isn’t important. The Mavs can do themselves a huge favor by winning tonight, as their game tips off at 7 p.m. Central while both Portland and Memphis tip off at 9:30 p.m. Central. If Dallas wins tonight, it will put a heavy amount of pressure on the Blazers to win their game.

    First round opponent: Thunder

    Dallas will finish No. 7 if…

    Dallas loses AND Memphis wins.

    If the Mavs lose tonight AND the Grizzlies win at Golden State, the Mavs will finish in seventh place and have showdown No. 7 against Tim Duncan and the Spurs. That would be a great series within the context of history — there aren’t many legends who have faced off seven times in the postseason like Dirk and Duncan would, in this scenario — but the Spurs would also be the most difficult matchup based on record.

    The Grizzlies have a tall task tonight in Oakland, where the Warriors have lost just twice in 40 games this season. Still, Memphis took a 2-1 series lead in last season’s second-round matchup thanks in large part to a win at Oracle Arena, so there is a bit of a precedent there. Anything can happen, which is why it’s best for Dallas to take care of business tonight at home.

    First round opponent: Spurs

    So there you go. On the busiest night of basketball all season, only three games matter to the Mavs’ fate. However, depending on the Mavs/Spurs result, only one of those other games will matter. If Dallas wins, keep your eye on Portland. If the Mavs lose, pay attention to Memphis.

    Either way, we’re in for a heck of a ride on the last night of a crazy, crazy season.