Brought to you by: Big Shucks
Coming into the new year hot, the Dallas Mavericks are currently on a four game winning streak. Their highest of the current season, the team is looking to keep this momentum going into the new year as their overall play and team chemistry has looked its best all season. And with these impressive wins coming in close tough matchups with solid squads, Dallas has much to look forward to in 2018.
After some tough back-to-back road losses against Miami and Atlanta, the Mavericks had a quick one game home stand after Christmas versus the Raptors. The Mavs were lead by J.J. Barea’s 20 points in this 98-93 victory. The ball was really spread around as Dirk and young German prospect Maxi Kleber were able to shine offensively, with 18 and 15 points respectively. Kleber’s play has really improved over the course of December as his minutes have seen considerable increase. Being a PF from the same hometown as Nowitzki, I’m sure he feels right at home learning and developing under the legendary 41, and it’s really starting to show with his great paint presence and his improvement from the perimeter and mid-range. The Raptors really weren’t able to get things going for their marquee star DeMar DeRozan, as he only had 8 points on 3-16 shooting, yikes. Even though Kyle Lowry tried to carry the load with his not too shabby performance of 23 pts, 8 rebounds and 6 assists, it’s extremely hard to win when your other premiere player is only shooting 19% from the field.
After the holiday the Mavericks traveled to Indiana on Wednesday to face a very deceitful Pacers squad. While no names may jump off the roster anymore after the departure of Paul George, Victor Oladipo has really been making a name for himself as the other end of that trade as the new star the Pacers need going forward. He’s drastically improved his play and it’s not long before he’s all-star material. It’s unfortunate for Indiana that they didn’t have Oladipo for this game, as they lost 98-94 to Dallas in this low scoring affair. The game had no scorers over 20 points, but the Mavs were able to compensate with great ball spread. Everyone on the roster scored at least 5 points, and the team had 6 players in double digits on the scoreboard. Overall, a great team effort led to a good close win against an about equal matchup (sans their star Oladipo).
The Mavericks’ Friday night matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans was quite the momentous occasion, as rookie Dennis Smith Jr managed to record the first triple-double of his young, prodigal NBA career in this 128-120 victory. With a line of 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, Smith goes in the books by being the third youngest player to claim their first triple double (behind Lonzo Ball and LeBron James). While Smith may not have gotten a lot of hype before this season, his continous improvement and showcases of his electrifying play have put him on the national stage, and can only excite Mavericks fans going forward, as the future beyond Dirk has found one of it’s needed guiding lights. Despite titanic performances by the Pelicans’ two big stars, with DeMarcus Cousins recording 32 points and 20 rebounds (geez) and Anthony Davis having 33 points of his own, they just weren’t enough to stop Dallas, who had 7 players in double-figure scoring.
The Mavs traveled to Oklahoma City on New Year’s Eve to face a hot Thunder team who is finally starting to figure out their chemistry between their “OK3” in Westbrook, George, and Melo. All 3 crossed the 20 point mark in this game, and Westbrook did what he does best in recording an almost effortless triple-double with 38 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists. Despite all this, here comes Dennis Smith Jr. to rise up to the occasion and valiantly duel the reigning MVP, as it was Smith’s end-game heroics and efficient play that put Dallas over the top in this close 116-113 bout. His two clutch three-pointers and fearless drive to the basket against a taller Jerami Grant to seal the game were the kind of stuff you see from superstars. The whole team stayed composed late in this close game as DSJ led the charge, showing the potential of this team; and that when they’re clicking, they can play with just about anybody.
In this very anomalous NBA season what is typically expected and seen from the Dallas Mavericks franchise and its fans, it’s relieving to have a positive stretch of games that show some great potential for this team to build on and work off of with each other. With the way the team has been playing, you can really see the chemistry building as passes become faster and more frequent and the team’s overall ball movement and presence of teamwork on the court has positively reinforced their approach towards any given matchup. The team will look to continue this 4-game winning streak going into a four game home stand. As Dennis Smith Jr looks to continue piling accolades as All Star Weekend approaches, he’ll be looking to make his biggest splash yet in the Rising Stars Challenge.
Wed 1/3 vs Warriors
Fri 1/5 vs Bulls
Sun 1/7 vs Knicks