The Mavs were on the second night of a back-to-back against a well-rested Wolves team playing at home, so it might not have been the easiest thing to push the pace all night. However, when Dallas was able to get up the floor, the club scored at a high clip. The Mavs scored 1.27 PPP when they got the ball across midcourt in three seconds or less, against just 0.73 PPP when they didn’t. 1.27 points per possession will win you an NBA title if you score that for an entire game. The problem, though: Dallas only got it across in three seconds or less 52 times, versus taking four seconds or more 45 times. Rick Carlisle has preached pace all season long and if you were watching the broadcast tonight you could probably hear him yell “PUSH! PACE! PUSH!” over and over and over again. The Mavs have got to continue pushing the tempo off of makes as well as misses. When they do, they are really, really tough to stop.
Dennis Smith Jr. finished with an even plus-minus tonight, which is notable given the disparity in the final score. To be fair, he made up a lot of that with the team’s late push in the fourth quarter, but it’s not like the Mavs were throwing in the towel at that point in the game. Dallas was able to get to within 13 points with four minutes left in the game, which as we saw last night is still enough time to get back into it. This was one of his better games.
He’s also getting better at using crafty moves to create driving lanes. In the next play, he ball-faked Karl-Anthony Towns out of his way, who was the only guy standing between him and a dunk.
Smith led the Mavericks with 15 rim attacks, one night after attacking 11 times against New Orleans. You love seeing that number in double-digits and hopefully as the season wears on he can keep it that high, or maybe even higher. There’s no doubt he’s got speed and explosiveness, but once he can begin mixing in more change-of-speed stuff, that could unlock another level. One thing he’s had to learn is that opposing NBA centers are also extremely athletic so they can block you if you’re running right at them. But, as a guard, if you can change speeds and directions en route to the rim, you can really take advantage of your speed advantage because they simply aren’t quick enough to adjust in time to get in position to contest the shot without fouling — or even at all.
The Mavs (1-10) will play the Washington Wizards (4-4) on Tuesday at Capital One Arena at 6 p.m. Central.
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