by mavsluvr at 01-19-2021, 02:10 AM
RAPTORS TRAMPLE DEPLETED MAVERICKS
With four players still out, another just back from 10 days off, still another playing hurt, on the second night of a back-to-back, on the second game of a five-in-seven stretch, on their ninth road game of a 13-game season, your Dallas Mavericks managed to hang in for 30 minutes, but finally the wheels came off in the third period, and the whole bus crashed and burned in the fourth. Woah.
The Mavs got a little good news before the game, learning that Brunson was available to return after a lengthy absence, and Hardaway was available after missing the last game with a groin strain.
Rick put both returners into the starting lineup, which featured Luka, Brunson, Hardaway, KP, and WCS.
The first quarter started with a shot clock violation by the Mavs, which perhaps was a harbinger of things to come. Both teams looked pretty bad, and the game was played close, until the Raps put together a little run toward the end. Inside the last minute, Carlisle got into it with a referee and was called for two technicals in quick succession and tossed. Don’t know what the argument was about — Rick declined to elaborate after the game. Mavs were down 18-22 after one. They were 1-10 from range, but so was Toronto, so there we go.
The Mavs caught up early in the second. Then the Raptors built a double-digit lead, which Dallas proceeded to recover from. Not much of an offensive battle. The teams were locked at 47-47 at the break.
Our boys hung in for the early part of the third, and the game was tied at 59-all at the 6:16 mark. Then, the Raptors’ shooters started heating up, and their team built a 14-point lead by 3:24. Dallas managed to chisel the deficit to single digits by the end of the period, but barely, trailing 72-81 after 36 minutes.
The fourth was a massacre. The Mavericks had just flat run out of juice.
Dallas just couldn’t score. Despite taking nine more FTAs and three more 3PTAs than their opponent, they had a total deficit of 23 points, hitting an embarrassing 38%/25% from the field. The Raptors waltzed through the lane at will, and the Mavs gave up 56 points in the paint. All together, the point differentials for the Mavs were -20 on points from twos, -9 on points from threes, and +6 on made free throws. Turnovers played a big part in the loss, as our team surrendered 22 points off turnovers, and the Raps lost only three. Sheesh.
The Mavs’ high scorers were KP with 23 points, Burke 17, Luka and Johnson with 15 apiece, and Brunson 13. On the other end of the spectrum, three of the rotation players had goose eggs in the points column, along with all of the garbage-minutes guys. Yikes!
Porzingis. Let’s start with the good news, and comment on KP first. Kris looked good this game, after much speculation about whether he would even play on the SEGABABA. He had a nice stat line, with 23 points, 8-14 shooting, and 9 boards in 32 minutes. He showed improvement in a broad range of aspects in addition to shooting and rebounding, doing a good job of cutting, running the floor, affecting shots, and moving energetically and decisively. After the game, he said he is feeling better and better, and is very eager to play.
Doncic. Luka’s stat line was decent (15/7/9), but he took only 11 shots, and completed just 4 of those, missing all three of his 3PTAs. It appeared that the Raptors’ scouting report advised swarming Luka and ignoring everyone else, and they employed a box-and-one defense to implement that instruction. You might not expect to see that defense used past middle school, but it did the job on Dallas.
Luka reported after the game that every time he tried to drive, four guys were in the paint, so he took only 11 shots. He added that he tried to pass to the other guys when he was double-teamed, but “the shots didn’t go in.” He didn’t think that the team had handled the Toronto defense well, and he looked tired, frustrated, and discouraged. Ended by saying that when they were winning, the locker room was happy, basketball was enjoyable, and he hopes they can get back to that. Indeed.
Brunson. Jalen played 27 minutes in his return, scored 13 points, and was the only Mav to have a good night beyond the arc (3-4). Rick thought he had a very good game, “considering everything,” including providing the team with fresh legs and energy. His conditioning didn’t appear to have suffered to any dramatic extent. However, he said after the game that he doesn’t recommend jumping right from 10 days off to playing a game, but he “did what I had to do.”
Hardaway. Tim had a terrible night, going 0-12 from the field, and not scoring a single point. To his credit, he did search for some other ways to contribute. For example, he fought for a rebound to the point that he drew a loose ball foul on Baynes, drew a charge against Siakam, and forced a turnover when Lowry tried to back him down. But, he was 0 for 12, and the team counts on him to put up points.
I feel certain that the groin strain was still bothering him, as he was generating little lift, and missing short. He was T’d up early in the fourth for landing on a Raptor’s foot, and walked to the bench with a very discouraged look, not to return for the rest of the match. Both Harp and KP mentioned how much Tim wanted to play, but in retrospect, I think he came back a little too early.
WCS. Willie started the game, but played only 19 minutes. He had a few good moments, but for the most part, I thought he looked pretty ineffectual. He racked up 6 points, 3 boards, and 3 turnovers, and didn’t seem to offer much in the way of resistance as the Raptors romped past him. Maybe I’m being too harsh. I hope I am.
Bench. Johnson and Burke each had 26-27 minutes off the bench, and the duo were the only members of the reserves who put up any points to speak of. Johnson was 15/6/2, and hit 6 of his 11 shots. Burke had 17 points and 3 assists, and also shot pretty well (5-11). Looking at the box scores, one would think they performed admirably, but the team bled points when they were on the court (-20, -16, respectively). Both seemed like they were playing over their heads, trying to assume responsibilities that are too much for them. Maybe it’s the fault of the virus, more so than the players or the coaches. Good possibility of that, methinks.
Iwundu and Green got 16-19 minute runouts and the team needed their help. Neither was much of a factor offensively, but I think the important thing in a game like this is that they had the chance to get out and play, and hopefully pick up a few things.
Raptors. Toronto had five guys in double figures, led by Kyle Lowry with 23. They didn’t have a particularly great game themselves, but they regained their shooting touch, took excellent care of the ball, focused 80% of their defensive effort on Luka, and came out smelling pretty. They were scrappy, but I think they are beatable with something approaching our “real team.”
Rick thought the guys got out to a good start, and made a great comeback in the second quarter. Unfortunately, in the second half, they just “didn’t have enough juice on either end.” He thinks the “murderous schedule” is difficult to manage, but they are trying to be attentive to the players’ getting enough rest, and not messing up their body clocks with all the travel. He thought the team had dealt poorly with Toronto’s defense, adding that they are going to face other teams using unusual defenses as well, and they might as well get used to it. Said he is really looking forward to getting Brunson and Hardaway all the way back, since they can score, can defend within the system, know how to play, and are veterans.
This was a frustrating game, in the same sense that some other recent games have been. Almost every offensive possession is laborious, as the players grind and grind to get a score. Then, even if they get a stop, it seems like they can’t string much else together. They’ll give up an easy basket, or allow an offensive rebound, or turn the ball over, or something. They look a lot like a team that’s in the middle of a very tough schedule, that has never played with all of its main guys together, that has four guys out, another playing injured, and is compiled to a significant extent of third-stringers.
It’s nobody’s fault, but I feel like the Mavs have been snakebit. All these other teams that can’t cobble eight players together on a given night are getting to postpone their games to a time when they will probably be stronger. Whereas we are not in a much different state, and are having to wreck our season trying to play without half our main guys in a parade of games that would be tough for the best teams.
I know that all the reasons that the team isn’t playing well are legitimate and fully explain why they don’t look like themselves. I feel confident that they will play much better, once they’re past these issues. The thing is, we probably won’t have our four guys back for a few more games, and then there will be a process taking several games to re-establish the chemistry and rhythm, and we could be 20-25 games into a a 72-game season before we even get a chance to perform at our best. After 13 games, we’re at 6-7, and more games are coming fast, before we have a chance to recover. Gulp.
I guess all we can do is roll with it. Brunson is not far from being up to par. If Timmy needs a little more rest to heal his strain, it might be best to make him take it. DFS has made it back from Denver, although they don’t have an estimated date for him. Maxi and Powell are further away than DFS, as far as we know. Can we get everybody back and settled in in two weeks? Three? Four? Can we keep anyone else from getting sick or hurt? Guess that’s for the Powers That Be to know, and us to find out.
I suppose we can do our part by supporting them in their upcoming battles. As someone once said, they also serve who only stand and wait.
The next game is Wednesday, against Indiana. No rest for the weary. See you Mavs fans afterward, hopefully to celebrate a better result!