Wolves at Mavericks
The Mavericks, winners of eight of their last nine games, have elevated themselves to at least fringe contender status at least a year earlier than any of us expected. This is driven by the league’s top offense, which in turn is driven by Luka Doncic, who in his second season is playing at an MVP level and, along with James Harden, might be the best offensive player in the NBA. He’s 20.
Last night he dropped 33-18=5 on the Pelicans in 28 minutes like it was nothing. This is not unusual, as he’s averaging over 30 with 10 rebounds and nine assists, carrying a 36 percent usage rate and doing it with efficiency. It’s an amazing thing for anyone, but a 20 year old second year player putting up these kinds of numbers is almost too much to believe.
The Wolves will have to try to contain Doncic by keeping him out of the lane, where he does a phenomenal amount of damage scoring, drawing fouls, and dishing to teammates. Easier said than done, and I honestly don’t know who I would try to guard him with. I suppose Robert Covington might be their best bet, at least at the start, but they will have to rotate guys on and off him.
The Mavs also love the three, and are second in attempts in the league. They shoot them pretty well, with Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, and Tim Hardaway Jr. combining to average about 22 attempts per game. Still, I’d rather get beat from beyond the arc than with Doncic living in the lane and at the free throw line.
For the Wolves to have a shot tonight, they are going to have to have a good shooting night from the perimeter, but also win the offensive glass. Mavericks games feature very few turnovers, and they neither force nor commit many, but the Wolves are going to have to win that category as well, and try to get some easy stuff in transition. The Mavs are just an average defensive team, and they Wolves will have to score a lot of points tonight, because the Mavericks almost certainly will.
This is the second game of a back to back for the Mavs, who much like the Wolves have also been better on the road than at home this season, so perhaps the Wolves can find some more road magic. It’s going to require one of the better efforts of the season, and perhaps a little bit of luck, to pull it off, but we want to see our guys compete against the top teams and players, and here’s an opportunity.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Our friends over at Mavs Moneyball have the Dallas story. Be excellent.