Dallas Mavericks: Slow Start to the New Year

Luka Doncic continues to show why he is worth it! Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi
 
By Joel Montgomery
 
The new year is finally here, and the Mavericks find themselves in the middle of a currently-standing 14-team playoff race in the Western Conference, as the parity in this current era of basketball is really starting to peak. Dallas has some work to do though if they want to claim a postseason spot though. However, even a brief winning streak could get the Mavs right back at the 8-seed. They’ll be hoping to get hot fast to start the year:
 
@ Oklahoma City Thunder (12/31)
Back on their turf in part 2 of this back-to-back, the Thunder got revenge on the Mavs on New Years Eve behind the impressive bounce-back performance of Russell Westbrook (32 pts, 11 rebs, 11 asts), who got a triple double after some alarming struggles recently when shooting the ball. Paul George (22 pts), whose actually been carrying the load for the team as of late, got to have a more lax role while Russ showed out. That’s the advantage of having multiple superstars. Nerlens Noel (15 pts) did much better this time around against his former team and is proving to have some viability for them coming off the bench.
 
Harrison Barnes (25 pts) and Luka Doncic (17 pts, 6 rebs) were Dallas’ primary point of attack on the offensive side, but the early lead OKC got to couldn’t be overcome.
 
FINAL: Oklahoma City 122 (23-13), Dallas 102 (17-19)
 
@ Charlotte Hornets (1/2)
Wednesday night, the Mavs traveled to face the Hornets who have been riding high behind star Kemba Walker recently, but Charlotte hosted half asleep as Walker and company got dominated on all fronts by Dallas. In his 27 minutes, Kemba (11 pts, 5 asts) was contained to an absolute minimal performance, and the rest of his team was unable to generate efficient offense.
 
Dennis Smith Jr. (18 pts, 7 asts) and Luka (18 pts, 10 rebs, 4 asts) lead the offense in-tandem, showing some much-needed synergy if they want to continue quelling any rumors surrounding DSJ.
 
FINAL: Dallas 122 (18-19), Charlotte 84 (18-19)
 
@ Boston Celtics (1/4)
On Friday, Dallas continued their road trip to TD Garden where they met a Celtics team that’s been trying to generate team synergy themselves as they try to stay in the fight for the 1-seed in the Eastern Conference. They came ready to play, getting off to a quick 11-point lead after one quarter and keeping the lead for the remainder of the contest. Jaylen Brown (21 pts) and Jayson Tatum (18 pts) filled their scoring quotas, and Al Horford nearly had a low-end triple double. Same with Gordon Hayward (16 pts, 11 rebs, 8 asts), whose recent play has looked alot like his Utah days, which has fortunately started to silence the teeming doubts of his viability in this team’s future. 
 
Doncic (19 pts, 9 rebs) and Barnes (20 pts), and even DeAndre Jordan’s double-double (12 pts, 15 rebs) fulfilled their offensive roles but didn’t get enough support from the other guys. DSJ (9 pts) in his 31 minutes once again disappeared. Unfortunately for Smith Jr, his on-court inconsistencies have still been prevalent.
 
FINAL: Boston 114 (23-15), Dallas 93 (18-20)
 
@ Philadelphia 76ers (1/5)
Day 2 of this back-to-back landed the Mavericks in Philly, where the Sixers had 20+ points from all 3 of their offensive focal points on their way to a close win. Joel Embiid (25 pts, 12 rebs, 5 asts) continued to show why he’ll very soon be competing for the title of most dominant player in the NBA; his partner in crime Ben Simmons (20 pts, 14 rebs, 11 asts) assumed the helm for the team by posting a statement triple-double. Simmons has been under fire recently for his inability to shoot, but as long as he keeps playing like this and the Sixers keeps winning, I’m sure they don’t mind what his play style is.
 
Wesley Matthews (18 pts) was efficient in his 24 minutes of play, and on this night it was Jalen Brunson’s (13 pts, 11 rebs, 8 asts) turn to post a near-triple-double in a great showing out for the second round rookie.
 
FINAL: Philadelphia 106 (26-14), Dallas 100 (18-21)
 
@ Los Angeles Lakers (1/7)
Finally done with their road trip, the Mavs hosted a LeBron-less Lakers squad on Monday night. James (groin), who still remains out, didn’t seem needed though for the Lakers as they took advantage of a terrible 3rd quarter by Dallas to make up ground and end up winning. After outscoring the Lakers 67-54 in the first half, the Mavericks proceeded to get outscored 34-13 in the 3rd quarter which ended up being the clear dagger of their demise. Brandon Ingram (29 pts, 6 asts) lit it up in a much-needed performance, and even Lonzo (21 pts, 7 rebs, 5 asts) got in on the offensive scoring action. Michael Beasley (13 pts) played well in his brief 9 mins off the bench.
 
Despite offensive prowess shown by Luka (27 pts, 8 rebs) and the reliable support of DeAndre (10 pts, 19 rebs), they didn’t get enough output from the rest of the team ultimately to give themselves a chance in that 3rd quarter and the game overall. DSJ (11 pts) once again mightily struggled in his 27 minutes. I think Dallas at this point is just glad the road trip is done.
 
FINAL: Los Angeles (L) 107, Dallas 97
 
The Mavericks have thankfully now made it out of one of the hardest stretches of their regular season. A few games under .500, the climb continues once again as they now resume hosting some noteworthy inter-conference foes.
 
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
1/9 vs Suns                         7:30 p.m.
1/11 @ Timberwolves       7:00 p.m.
1/13 vs Warriors                6:00 p.m.