Brought to you by: Big Shucks
After a rough 1-10 start to the regular season, the Dallas Mavericks have followed up on that bleak start with a more promising week of ups and downs in their on-court battles to begin November. Rookie-star Dennis Smith Jr. has continued to show why he will be an important cornerstone for this team with some impressive performances against some of the league’s most talented individual forces. Smith was tested by the likes of LeBron James and the deep Cavaliers and Russell Westbrook alongside Paul George in Oklahoma City. While these endeavors were losing efforts for Smith and company, they offered some invaluable experience for the young rising point guard. Also in this week, the Mavericks were able to gain a little bit of confidence success-wise with a solid win over John Wall and a Wizards team that’s already proved to be no pushover in Eastern conference competition.
In Tuesday’s impressive 113-99 victory, Dallas crossed the 100-point mark for just the fifth time this season. The results showed as the team completely cruised past Washington in this 14-point rout.
Harrison Barnes led the charge with a season high of 31 points, just 3 shy of his career high. Barnes’ establishment as the Mavericks’ primary scorer on a team trying to bring some volume into its offense is clear. Dallas should really start looking at trying to keep Barnes long-term if his overall offensive output keeps improving like this.
Dennis Smith also had his career high on this points-heavy night for Dallas with 22 of his own, going along with 8 rebounds and 8 assists. This impressive performance across the board is Smith’s best case yet for the potential he brings as a future NBA star, and even a strong Rookie of the Year candidate this season.
A great performance in the paint and on the boards by Salah Mejri was also in store for the night, as he proved with more minutes, he shines as a much-needed paint presence.
After a 4 day break well-deserved after that road win, on Saturday Dallas went back home and had a big test in store when LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers came to town. Trying to rally his team together after a rough start to the season, James has played abundant minutes at the point guard position to increase his load as the driving force of the team’s offensive and defensive organization. This meant a duel with Dennis Smith, who was, as Mike Tirico would say, “the kid with the big guts” in this matchup as he showed some surprising spunk and fearlessness up against the all-time talent in James. He had 21 points to go with 5 rebounds and 7 assists in another all-around showcase. “The Knicks passed on a really good one…” said LeBron after the game, “…and Dallas got the diamond in the rough… He should be a Knick.” (Possibly a hint of his plans for next off-season…?)
An anomaly in this game was coach Rick Carlisle’s decision to severely limit the minutes of the Mavericks’ few prominent paint presences in Mejri and Nerlens Noel, even to the point where Noel didn’t play a single minute in this game despite no injury report indicating a reason for him to be out. Furthermore, the team didn’t even attempt to hide team’s long-time veteran Dirk Nowitzki on defense (see: LeBron’s iso desctruction of Nowitzki in the final moments of the game), who has shown to not really be a threat at all to pretty much anyone on the court defensively (sorry, Dirk. Much respect for the offensive arsenal never wavering. Nice 30-foot 3-point rainbow in the 4th!) It seems Carlisle and the rest of the team are really embracing the tank if this is the plan of personnel going forward. Onward to the NBA Draft!
Cleveland’s struggles on defense have been obvious, and Dallas took advantage of that to stay the game with good scoring runs to keep pace with Cleveland’s offensive firepower. Even though the game ended in a 111-104 loss for the Mavs, it was an unexpected struggle in a matchup that everyone expected the Cavaliers to win handily. It was a moral victory for the Mavericks. And in a season like this, we take those.
Against the Oklahoma City Thunder this past Sunday night, the Mavericks were back to their wicked ways in a sub 100-point performance for the team. No one really was able to do much offensively, as Harrison Barnes’ 22 and Yogi Ferrell’s 18 are the only ones really worth mentioning from the stat sheet.
The Thunder’s Paul George followed up on his impressive 42-point performance against the Clippers with a 37-point outing on this night against the Mavericks. He led the charge offensively while Russell Westbrook followed up with a 27-point game of his own. Carmelo Anthony missed the game with a sore back.
Even though Dennis Smith had one of his more quiet performances in this game with only 15 points and 3 assists, he gained some experience against the league’s defending MVP and top explosive force at the point guard position currently playing basketball in Westbrook. A game against such a talented team in the booming Cheasapeake Arena will serve as some helpful experience for Smith’s growth as a competitor in this league.
So in this week of highs and lows, Harrison Barnes proved he deserves to be a top option on a team that competes even against impressive competition, and Dennis Smith Jr continues to grow and begin his blossom as a future NBA spectacle in the league’s most challenging and demanding position.
This upcoming week, Dallas must prepare for a 4 game home stand, with some of both the East and West’s top competition with playoff aspirations, including a rising beast in Giannis Antetokounmpo and a mask-adorning Kyrie Irving (Uh-oh, we know how that turned out last time…)
Tue 11/14 vs Spurs
Fri 11/17 vs Timberwolves
Sat 11/18 vs Bucks
Mon 11/20 vs Celtics