Mavs Donuts: To Utah, 'On A Mission From God'

Mavs Donuts: To Utah, 'On A Mission From God'

DONUT 1: MAVS AT UTAH

It's the Dallas Mavericks in Salt Lake City for tonight's battle against the talented young Utah Jazz (tip off at 8 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN) ... and the Mavs may be catching some breaks here.

Dallas (0-3) is one of six NBA teams that still hasn't won this season and a healthy 2-2 Jazz team would figure to push the Mavs’ woes to a fourth game, but … Utah is playing without the injured Gordon Hayward and now shooting guard Alec Burks is out indefinitely after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left ankle Tuesday.

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And one more break: The Jazz might be a bit spent after having handed San Antonio its first loss of the season on Tuesday night, topping the Spurs 106-91. A second night of a back-to-back after a huge win, and the home team traveling, and an 0-3 club rolling in ... maybe Dallas benefits from Utah having to deal with a sort of "trap'' game here.


DONUT 2: DIRK'S AVAILABILITY IN THE BAD CITY

Dirk Nowitzki, who has missed the last two games with an illness and Achilles soreness, says, "The guys are already joking in the locker room that I only play once a week now."


Dirk did work in practice on Tuesday but coach Rick Carlisle noted that he won't be put "in harm's way,'' so we will monitor. Wesley Matthews (foot) and J.J. Barea (knee) both sat out practice on Tuesday and we will update you later today there as well.

DONUT 3: FIRST, FIX THE FIRST


The thesis seems an alarmist one: "The Mavs Will Keep Losing Every Game Until ..."


But dig in here. It is smart stuff in our "Locked On Mavs" podcast that analyzes Dallas' so-far problems that are in many ways triggered by first-quarter problems.


DONUT 4: FRIGIDITY


Our buddy Bobby Karalla points out that Dallas isn't alone as a team that's started off this season with frigid shooting. He notes, for instance, that 12 clubs are presently shooting below 30 percent from 3 on the year.


But the Mavs' perimeter numbers are concerning not just because of the cold, hard math, but also because of situational failures.

DBcom pal Mike Bacsik pointed out to me the other night hey play at Houston featuring Justin Anderson being guarded by James Harden ... with Harden in foul trouble. 


Mavs veteran teammates swung the ball to Simba and they clearly had a vision: Anderson need to take Harden to the hole, draw that foul, get an easy shot, maybe with the game.


Instead the youngest received the ball and pulled up from long-distance, putting Harden in no danger ... and putting on display just a glimpse of why it's not just about provider numbers, but also about perimeter decisions.


And Dallas lost that Game 2 a single point.


DONUT 5: POSTHUMOUS HONOR


The Mavs will honor longtime team internist J.R. “Pepe” Zamorano on Sunday at home vs. Milwaukee. Dr. Zamorano passed away in June. 


DONUT 6: MAKE AMERICA GRAB AGAIN

Always. Be. Clever.


DONUT 7: LESS WES?


How much leash do you give Wes Matthews to continue shooting his team out of ballgames? It’s amazing when he rises up and hits a killer three point shot, ice in his blood, that ties the game. But, those rare heroics shouldn’t lead to the confirmation bias that Matthews is clutch.

What they should do is lead us to the question: would the Mavs have needed those heroics if Wes drove to the basket more often? If he took higher percentage shots, would they instead have the lead in some of these games?

Balk at me if you like, but this is a case when the eye test meets the metrics. I never want to see Wes take a three pointer these days, and neither does the box score.

How much better would this Maverick team be if Wes Matthews only shot the ball 8 times a game? Zero times a game? We investigate here.


DONUT 8: QUOTABLE

"Me and Utah, we've bonded over the years, so I'm ready to go, hopefully." - Dirk Nowitzki.


DONUT 9: MONTA'S THE SYMBOL

In a sense, outside of Dirk, Monta Ellis -- who is an ex-Mav, or maybe to put it more accurately and more strongly, a non-Mav -- may perfectly symbolize what the post-championship Mavs are.

Actually, I take that back. Dirk symbolizes what they were, even as he still labors here. Monta, two years removed from Dallas, still symbolizes where the Mavs are now.

My Mavs Premium column is here.


DONUT 10: STAT O THE DAY

The Mavs want/wanted to be a top-10 defensive team this season. Maybe they can steal some tips from the Jazz, as they have allowed just 89.3 points per game over their last three contests.

Oh, and there exists a history in Utah that Dallas cannot claim in this department: Utah has held opponents under 90 points in 59 games dating to the start of the 2014-15 season -- the most of any NBA team.

DONUT 11: A BOGUT HALLOWEEN

 5 people , indoor

Who's who in this pic from D-Will's team gathering? The tall guys are the tall guys. And Wesley is "Ironman.''


DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD

"I was on a mission from God." - Rick Carlisle on dressing up as a Blues Brother for the team's Halloween bash.


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