Here are my 5 takeaways from the Dallas Mavericks’ 112-109 win over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night at American Airlines Center:
1. MAVS DIDN’T BLINK: If the two-time defending NBA champion Warriors were in town, that means the Mavs were faced with more mitigating circumstances than normal. But when the Warriors built a 90-82 lead early in the fourth quarter and appeared to be pulling away from the Mavs, that apparently was nothing but a mirage for Dallas. Undaunted, the Mavs buckled up and outscored Golden State 30-19 during the final 10:44 of the game and snapped a 10-game losing streak to the Warriors. Golden State discovered what the Mavs’ previous three opponents already know. The Mavs have found their mojo and anyone trying to take it away from them will have to work extra hard to get it.
2. DONCIC’S PERSONAL CHAMPIONSHIP: You ever wonder if this game meant more to rookie Luka Doncic than perhaps some of his teammates? After all, Doncic was the Most Valuable Player during the regular season and during the Final Four in the second-best league in the world – the EuroLeague – last season while leading Real Madrid to the championship. And the champs from the second-best league in the world, of course, don’t play the champs from the best league in the world – the Warriors. So this was Doncic’s chance to shine, and boy did he ever. Doncic scored 12 of his team-high 24 points in the first quarter, and added four more points during crunch time to fuel the Mavs’ comeback victory.
3. THE WINS KEEP STACKING UP: Following a slow start to the season where they blew at least four games, the Mavs have gradually climbed back into the conversation of many NBA followers. The win over the Warriors was the fourth in a row for the Mavs. At this time, no team in the NBA currently has a longer winning streak than four games. (The Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers also have won their last four games). This is the Mavs’ first four-game winning streak since they defeated the Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder from Dec. 26-31, 2017. And only the game against the Raptors were on the Mavs’ home court.
4. DEFENSE CAME THROUGH AGAIN: While the Mavs did allow 109 points, considering the opponent that’s a very reasonable number. The Warriors entered the game second in the NBA in scoring with 118.6 ppg, and armed with the ability to score 40 points in any quarter. But the Warriors only had one 30-point quarter against the Mavs – they scored 37 points in the second quarter. Even more stunning, the Warriors were just 9-of-33 from 3-point range, with Klay Thompson missing nine of the 11 shots he took from beyond the 3-point arc. Overall, the Mavs are now 6-0 when holding an opponent to 110 points or less as their defense keeps getting stickier by the game.
5. STARTERS PICKED UP THE BENCH: For so many games this season the Mavs appeared to be going as far as their bench would take them. But on this night, the starters set the tone early and continued it throughout the game. In all, the starters scored 87 of the Mavs’ points with the bench pushing through for just 25 points. All five starters scored in double figures led by Luka Doncic (24 points) and Harrison Barnes (23 points). Starters Dennis Smith Jr. (14 points), DeAndre Jordan (13 points) and Dorian Finney-Smith (13 points) also pitched in on a day when the reserves didn’t produce their usual 40-point plus scoring performance.
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