The Dallas Mavericks have tried to stay positive despite an NBA-worst 3-14 start to the season, and with some impressive performances by their young talent and sparks by the team at some select orthodox times. They’re confident moving forward in their ability to grab some wins here and there and get some more overall good morale and confidence for the team looking towards the future.
In their first game of the week on Tuesday against San Antonio, the Mavericks battled against a Kawhi-less Spurs that have proved to still be a formidable unit without their main star. They lost in a close 6-point bout that couldn’t reach triple digits again, something that has been customary for most of the Mavericks’ beginning of this season. As one of the lowest scoring teams in the league, their record of a league-worst 3-14 at this point comes to no surprise. Rookie Dennis Smith Jr delighted on the box score with a 27-point, 6 rebound performance. He was the only standout offensively as Barnes and Barea followed Smith up with 16 points each. LaMarcus Aldridge led the charge for the Spurs with an impressive 32 point outing. He’s done well to step in for Kawhi Leonard as the team’s premiere offensive feature during Leonard’s absence.
The Mavericks followed this close loss with one not so close against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. In the 111-87 rout, the Mavericks fought to stay in the game in the first half, and even led by 12 at one point, but completely shut down as the T-Wolves finally started clicking offensively in the 3rd quarter. From there, it was a landslide. Jimmy Butler led Minnesota with 21 points, continuing to prove that his presence will lead this team to levels never reached before by them. Andrew Wiggins followed up with a 19 point outing. Karl Anthony-Towns was surprisingly not very impactful for the team offensively, only knocking in 15 points to go with his standard 11 rebounds in his 37 minutes. Harrison Barnes led the Mavs with 18 points. Dennis Smith had a quiet 8 point, 4 assist performance in his 27 minutes. Dallas PF Maxi Kleber actually got a lot of minutes (27) in this game, and while he only had 3 rebounds and no points, it shows that he made a difference defensively as a stopper in the paint. Same applies with Salah Mejri, who had 17 minutes with 6 points and 6 rebounds.
Dallas rebounded strongly from this loss however, impressing on Saturday with a solid 111-79 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. It was very uplifting for the team to get such a dominating win over a competitive Eastern conference squad in the Bucks. Even though Milwaukee’s marquis rising star Giannis Antetokounmpo dominated the glass with 24 points and 17 rebounds, he alone was not enough to stop the Mavericks from completely controlling this match. Khris Middleton followed with 23 points of his own, and the 2 were the only two Milwaukee players to score in double digits. This was a huge reason the Bucks lost and by such a surprising amount, and they need more consistency from their overall depth in order to make any noise in the East come postseason. Dennis Smith was quiet in this dominating Dallas win with only 5 points and 2 assists in his 22 minutes. While limited, it seemed he was just passively riding with the Mavericks’ dominance of the game throughout, which is acceptable. Wesley Matthews led the Mavericks with 22 points, his season high. Following on him was J.J. Barea with 20 and Harrison Barnes with 18 of his own. Barnes has consistently been a top performer for the Mavericks overall offensively, but its nice to see Matthews and Barea start to step it up for Dallas’ backcourt with their recently increased offensive output.
Speculation has been brewing on the topic of Nerlens Noel and his relationship with the franchise as it seems he’s being primed for the trading block. With no indications of any injuries that would keep him out of the lineup, his minutes have been severely limited. When healthy during his tenure on the Sixers, Noel averaged around 30 minutes per outing. Coming to Dallas, it was expected that Noel was going to immediately be a highly-utilized paint presence for the team, however this has not been the case. With even Salah Mejri getting more minutes, it seems either coach Carlisle/Dallas’ front office and Nerlens just aren’t getting along, or they’re just simply in a bind: with his contract only lasting until the end of this season and the team already having to concern themselves with literally over half the roster already in terms of new contract negotiations, it’s not hard to see that the possibility of them wanting to ship out Noel increases ever greater.
In the coming week, Dallas faces some more quality league talent as they try to stop Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics’ rolling 15-game winning streak. Also, games against the Grizzlies and Thunder as the Mavericks try to re-face some of the might of the Western conference.
Mon 11/20 vs Celtics
Wed 11/22 @ Grizzlies
Sat 11/25 vs Thunder