Donut 1: Mavs 95, Heat 99
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very much on Team Draft Pick.
That didn’t make last night any more fun to watch going down the stretch.
The Mavs built a nice little half-time lead. They were moving the ball, they were hitting threes, and they were playing solid defense.
Then, in the second half, they were outscored by 13 points, couldn’t make threes, and they once again let a team dominate them on the interior.
Somehow, against all odds, the Mavs still had a puncher’s chance in the final minute when Dirk got fouled and sent to the FT line for three shots.
He only made two of three, and it was fairly elementary stuff from that point forward.
Tough loss—even for a guy like me who’s rooting for the lottery.
Donut 2: Fake Doors
A scene from Rick and Morty went terribly wrong during the break between the 1st and 2nd quarters.
I have no idea what the promotion was for, or how it worked, but a woman slid a key card into a fake door, opened it up, walked through, and it fell down on top of her.
I’m sure people were worried about her, but mostly they seemed nervous about whether or not the event had done any damage to the floor.
Look, I could’ve used this Donut to complain about the inability for the Mavs to dominate the endless size mismatches they faced throughout the game—but isn’t it better to know that a giant fake door nearly murdered someone, and the greatest worry was whether or not the basketball court would be polished up for the 2nd quarter?
Donut 3: Barnes Making History
If you were paying attention, you may have noticed a pretty amazing stat last night.
Harrison Barnes has the most points per game over his first 41 games of ANY player with a new team.
That’s all-time. That means Barnes put up more points per game over his first half of the season than LeBron put up over his first 41 games in Miami. More than Shaq put up over his first 41 games in LA.
This Barnes guy might be for real.
Interesting caveat to that stat last night. The second most successful team change in NBA history? Monta Ellis in 2013-2014.
Anybody remember which coach, and team, he played for?
Donut 4: On the Other Hand
Barnes started out the night living up to his billing as the Mavs most consistent and reliable shooter.
He opened up his evening going 7 of 10 from the floor and looking primed for a dominant outing.
In a game decided by two possessions, he would go on to miss his final four shots—and he only got to the FT line once all game.
I think he and Rick would tell you that he earned a few more trips to the line that just didn’t get called (I wonder if maybe for Barnes the ball extends to the wrist and elbow).
He still had a respectable night (15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal) but it’s tough to watch one of your best players disappear in the 4th quarter—especially in a game that was well within reach.
Donut 5: Seth Curry
Seth got picked on a little in the second half—but so did a lot of Mavs. Overall, he continues to put together a really nice season.
He scored 15 points and 4 rebounds--and hit 3 of his 5 three-point attempts in 32 minutes
He only turned the ball over once (which is in line with his incredibly low 1.2 turnovers per game).
The one weird anomaly in Seth’s game is that he will occasionally rack up fouls—five of them in last night’s contest. Some of you probably remember that he actually fouled-out of a game at the start of the season.
I do want to be fair to him, though: Last night at least one of those fouls came when the Mavs were intentionally fouling and trying to get the ball back in the final minute—but it’s undoubtedly the product of a smaller player trying to do whatever he can to keep some defensive edge.
For my money: I’d rather see a guy earn some tenacious fouls than see him look like a revolving door —but I hope more time working with Wes Matthews will elevate that aspect of Seth’s game.
Donut 6: Curry’s Three-Point Shooting
Did you know that there’s a Curry brother in the top 20 in 3 point shooting percentage?
Of course you knew that. It’s been the natural order for a few years now.
What you probably didn’t know is that it’s Seth—and not Steph—who’s currently shooting a higher percentage from behind the arc.
Seth is hitting 1.7 of his 4 attempts per game (a rate of 41.6%) which puts him at 16th in the NBA.
Steph is 34th with a rate of 39.7%.
That doesn’t mean that I think Seth has eclipsed his brother by any stretch—but I do think it’s a great sign for a young player trying to find his niche in the NBA.
Seth may not be on the same level has his two-time MVP brother—but he’s more than proven that he belongs in the NBA. Whether that means he becomes a 3-point specialist, or finds a way to round out his game, is still the big question-mark.
Donut 7: What Kind of Game did Dirk Have?
If you’re like me, and you’re eyeballing Dirk’s milestones and you feel encouraged by his 19 points—you’d say last night was a solid appearance.
In other words: if you’re ok with Dirk being a contributing NBA player, but you also want the Mavs to draft in the lottery, then Dirk had a game that was “just fine.”
But, if you were watching Denver lose to San Antonio, and you knew that a win would move the Mavs to 3 games out of a playoff spot, you were probably way less impressed by what the Big German brought to the floor last night.
It took him 17 shots to get 19 points (not the version of Kobe I want Dirk to chase). He failed to capitalize on a number of matchups vs. smaller players, and he missed two free throws (including a huge free throw in the final minute that would’ve closed the game to 2 points).
He also didn’t do much on the boards last night—and I’m not 100% sure he was as good a player as he was a decoy—but I’d still take another 40 games with the same stat line.
Why? Because I want to watch him stay relevant while the Mavs draft a young guy to make his last year a bit more interesting.
I don’t want to watch older/slower Dirk trying to guard KD in a first-round playoff series.
Donut 8: 4 of 9? That Explains It.
Wes Matthews had a great night for the Mavs. It’s almost boring to talk about how consistent he is on both sides of the floor.
He scored 18 points on 14 shots. He grabbed 5 rebounds. He had a block. He didn’t turn the ball over.
He was even a very respectable 4 of 9 from behind the arc.
But, Fox Sports Southwest put up a stat last night that says the Mavs are 8-6 in games when Matthews shoots 50% or better from three.
We all know that Matthews isn’t to blame for that Mavericks loss last night—but in a one or two possession game, it is easy to argue that one more made three would’ve had a huge impact on the final score.
But, this Donut was really just a way to praise Wes Matthews; if I want to complain about three-point shooting, I’d work my way to Barnes and Williams, who shot a combined 1 for 8 from behind the arc.
Donut 9: D-Will Hot and Cold
If you could’ve frozen Deron Williams after the first half, you could’ve traded him for a 1st round draft pick right then.
His aggressive drives to the basket had earned him an early trip to the line, and his 7 assists at half-time were as many as the entire Heat team had at that same point.
Unfortunately, the Williams of the second half only managed two more assists, zero trips to the line, and he finished his night with 6 points on 2 of 8 shooting.
TV man (and friend of DB.com) Derek Harper seemed to be talking about Williams specifically when he challenged the Mavs in the second half. He basically said, “If what you’re doing isn’t working, you have to be smart enough to try something else.”
The something that wasn’t working for the Mavs in the second half: bad three-point attempts. Williams was one of the biggest culprits. But, unlike the Williams of the first half, we didn’t see Deron make the adjustment and drive hard to the basket to try to get himself going.
The result: An amazing stat line that wilted by the end of the game, and a Mavs team that lost to a very beatable Heat squad.
Oh, and that ever-morphing question of trade value, which lurks in my periphery non-stop.
Donut 10: The Mavs vs. Guards
I’ve talked about this a lot—but the Mavs once again got punished by another team’s guards.
This might sound like a complaint about Mavs guards—but that’s not it, really. The problem is, the Mavericks have very little interior presence—which means very little help when smaller guards sneak inside the paint.
Last night the Mavs gave up 23 points to Tyler Johnson (his season average is 14.2 points per game), 32 points to Goran Dragic (his season average is 19.4 points per game), and they struggled to capitalize on the fact that Dragic is one of the worst defensive point guards in the NBA.
Dragic is currently 17th in offensive Real Plus-Minus (with a 1.27) among point guards. Certainly not an impressive enough rating that you want him cutting up your team for 30 points.
But, worse still, is the Mavs inability to capitalize on his terrible defense. Dragic’s -2.34 defensive RPM is 75th out of 86 qualified point guards this season.
Donut 11: Dion Waiters—Sideline Specialist?
Do the Heat let Waiters throw the ball in on the off-chance that he’ll elbow someone in the face? If not, I don’t really see the upside.
When the Mavs inexplicably cut the lead to a single possession late in the 4th quarter, Dion Waiters nearly gave them their best chance to get back in the game.
He struggled so mightily to get the ball in that he had to burn a couple of time-outs, nearly tossed one in-bounds attempt into the hands of a hungry Wes Matthews, and then came within about a half-second of a 5-Second Violation which would’ve turned the ball over.
He got the ball in. The Heat hit their free-throws, and life moves on—but he looked really uncomfortable in that role last night, and it almost cost his team the W.
Donut 12: Looking Ahead
So, we’ve reached the tipping point.
The Mavs got through the first half of the season with a 14-27 record.
They started the second half of the season kind of the way they started the first half. A tough loss that came down to the wire. It wasn’t overtime—but it matched a lot of “close, but not quite” contests that the Mavs have left on the floor this season.
What should be scary for Mavs fans hoping for a quick rebuild through the lottery, free agency, and trades—Denver lost last night.
The Mavs started the second half of the season 3.5 games out of a playoff spot. Had they won last night, they’d have been 2.5 games out.
They’re playing bad basketball, but they’ve still climbed a couple of spots closer to playoff contention in the last month. (That may change tonight; Utah is in town ... Dallas is 0-7 this year on the second nights of b-2-b's ... and we keep you updated on the injury status of Rodney Hood and deal with tonight as the Mavs play host the Utah Jazz on DB.com Boards and the GameThread here).
I’m not sure that any of the teams ahead of them for that 8th spot are ready (or able) to close in for the kill—so we might all want to get used to this.
We may not know what we’re dealing with until we start to see how the trade deadline pans out—but as much as I hate to say this: We can’t count out the Mavs just yet.
Can we say with great confidence that this team isn’t ready to win a playoff series? Yeah. I’d put some serious money on that.
But, can we say that they’re too terrible to catch Denver or New Orleans? No. No we cannot.