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Mavs Talk: ‘Defensive Identity’? Not Yet; Willie Cauley-Stein Still Starting?

Mavs Talk: ‘Defensive Identity’ not there yet, says Trey Burke following 120-114 loss to Washington Wizards

On Saturday night, the Dallas Mavericks fell short 120-114 in a shoot-out against the Washington Wizards at the American Airlines Center.

Despite having four days off before the game, Mavericks star Luka Doncic (knee and ankle sprains) still didn’t look completely healthy. Nevertheless, Doncic still finished with 33 points (13-of-25 shooting from the field) and 10 assists.

The loss can largely be attributed to a letup in the Mavs’ defense. After the game, backup point guard Trey Burke described Dallas’s recurring defensive struggles:

“We’re still trying to find our identity on defense,” he said. “It kind of goes back to the same issue we had last year in the playoffs – continuing to find our identity on defense and not allowing made shots to dictate how we play throughout the whole night.”

Maybe defense is the reason coach Jason Kidd says he is sticking with Willie Cauley-Stein will as the starter at center. WCS recently jumped over Dwight Powell for that job, and Kidd but added that Maxi Kleber could soon make a similar jump to the first team.

For tonight, though? WCS has just been ruled out due to a non-COVID illne

Besides Doncic, the Mavs didn’t have clear-cut second leader to rely on. Burke (14 points), Tim Hardaway Jr. (10), Kristaps Porzingis (13), and Kleber (13) all finished in low double-figures.

Now let's hear the Mavs talk:

Burke on what went wrong on the defensive end:

“We have too many lapses on defense. Whether it’s against good teams or not so good teams, these are the best players in the world, you can’t have lapses on that end of the court or allow offense to dictate how you play on defense.”

Jason Kidd on his team’s performance:

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“We had a healthy Thanksgiving food-wise,” coach Jason Kidd said. “There was no resistance there to start the game. Luckily, they didn’t have any resistance, either.”

Kidd on the shoot-out:

“It was a shootout and if you’re going to be in a shootout, you got to make shots and we just didn’t make them at the right time and they did.”

Kidd on the status of Jalen Brunson looking ahead:

“We’ll see how he feels. I thought he did great playing, so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow and see if he can go.”

Doncic on being more prepared:

“We just didn’t play a good game. They were rebounding the ball. And they were just (strong) on the offensive end. We could have won that game. We got to be prepared better than this.”

Doncic on the offense and defense:

“On offense we were pretty good. We had a lot of open shots we didn’t make. But the game was on the defensive end. We got to play better defense, that’s it.”

The 10-8 Mavericks will aim to flip the script on Monday night when they face the 10-10 Cleveland Cavaliers at the AAC.