Mavs Monday Donuts: Luka's Dominance and Porzingis' 'Glass Half Full'
After four painful months of waiting, the Dallas Mavericks are finally going to start playing games that matter again at the end of this week. As great as it has been to see Luka Doncic and the rest of guys do their thing in these scrimmages, it'll be even better to see them get the ball rolling towards what should be a very entertaining postseason... a postseason appearance that will be the Mavs' first in the last three years.
DONUT 1: What's On The Horizon
The NBA's 2019-2020 regular season will officially resume on Thursday night with a TNT double-header featuring the Utah Jazz vs. the New Orleans Pelicans and then the Los Angeles Clippers vs. the Los Angeles Lakers. The Mavs will officially get things underway against the Houston Rockets at 8 p.m. CT on Friday night (ESPN). As much as the Mavs and Rockets love hoisting up threes, there should be plenty of fireworks inside the Orlando bubble this weekend.
DONUT 2: Getting Off On The Right Foot
All the Mavs' upcoming 'seeding games' will be important, but getting off to a fast start will be key to Dallas' hopes of moving up in the Western Conference standings before the playoffs begin. As mentioned above, the first game will be against the Rockets, a team that is just 1.5 games ahead of the Mavs in the standings. Before the season was suspended, the Mavs and Rockets split the two games they played against each other.
Dallas won the first game, 137-123, on the back of Luka Doncic's 41-point performance. In the second matchup, the Rockets took advantage of Doncic being out with an ankle injury, winning 128-121 despite Kristaps Porzingis' 35 points and 12 rebounds. With the Mavs being fully healthy, they'll try for a repeat of the first time they met the Rockets this season. Regardless, though, this game figures to loads of fun. We'll see if Dallas can get off on the right foot on their quest to the postseason.
DONUT 3: But First, A Scrimmage Dress Rehearsal
Before we get to all of the excitement of this weekend, the Mavs still have some fine-tuning to do on Tuesday night, when they take on Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers in what will be their final scrimmage. Although, on paper, this would seem to be a really good matchup, the Mavs have toyed with the 76ers this season, winning both games they played against each other by a combined 37 points.
These scrimmages might not count towards the Mavs' record, but it would be nice for them to have a feel-good kind of performance in this one as they head into their weekend matchup with Houston.
DONUT 4: Seth Curry Torching The Lakers
The Mavs opened up their scrimmage schedule on Thursday night against LeBron James and the Lakers. All of the stars performed exactly the way you would've expected them to, with the exception of Porzingis getting into early foul trouble, but the biggest performance of that game was Seth Curry, who scorched the nets for 23 points on a perfect 8-for-8 from the field and 6-of-6 from deep as the Mavs won, 108-104. You can read our full recap of this game here.
Curry, just like before the NBA's hiatus, should get a lot of open looks in Orlando. If he can continue shooting threes at a 45-percent clip like he has all season, the Mavs will be a tough out once the playoffs begin.
DONUT 5: Doncic Shines In Scrimmage Loss To Pacers
Dallas wasn't able to pull out another scrimmage win against the Indiana Pacers, falling 118-111, despite Doncic being his usual superstar self, scoring 20 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and dishing out nine assists in just 24 minutes of action. Victor Oladipo did the heavy lifting for the Pacers in this one, scoring 16 points in 28 minutes, while hitting four threes and playing excellent on-ball defense. You can read the full recap for this game here.
Back to Doncic, though... the sophomore star has tallied a total of 34 points, 16 rebounds and 15 assists in 40 minutes of scrimmage play through two games. If one thing is a given, it's that Doncic is finally fresh again and ready to take the league by storm... again.
DONUT 6: 'A Cautionary Tale' with Kristaps Porzingis
You'll notice that we didn't mention Porzingis in any of the Mavs-Pacers talk. That's because he was forced to sit out that game due to missing his COVID-19 testing the day before. Fortunately for the Mavs, though, it seems that it was an honest mistake on Porzingis' part.
“He was very contrite and really felt bad about letting the team down,” coach Rick Carlisle said in revealing that Porzingis missed a mandatory coronavirus test. (Read the full story here.) “Something like this is something that I think all of us can take as a cautionary tale. We’ve just got to remember that the details of the situation that we’re involved in are very, very important.”
DONUT 7: But Hey, At Least KP Wasn't At The Strip Club...
Was it somewhat disheartening for Porzingis to miss out on his daily testing when every other Maverick player has been able to stay on top of it? Sure it was ... But it's also not as disheartening as having one of your players leave the Orlando bubble on an 'excused absence,' and then that player decides to take a detour to a strip club.
That's what the Clippers are currently going through, with Lou Williams now having to quarantine for 10 days before rejoining his team. After dealing with a family matter, Williams decided to go to a strip club in Atlanta, something a person taking this NBA re-start seriously wouldn't have done. Williams claims that he just went there for the food, but I mean... come on, man.
So, although missing a scrimmage for a missed COVID-19 test isn't ideal, it could be a whole lot worse.
DONUT 8: Hardaway Jr. Regressing To The Mean?
Just like with preseason games, we try not to get too carried away with players' performances in these scrimmages, but one does have to wonder if Tim Hardaway Jr. can continue his career year from the three-point line or not.
On the season, Hardaway Jr. is shooting 41-percent from deep on a little over seven attempts per game. In just two scrimmages with limited minutes, Hardaway Jr.'s three-point percentage has been right at 36-percent. Again, we can't say this will continue when the real games start, but it's definitely something to keep an eye on, as Hardaway Jr.'s sharpshooting has been a key part of the Mavs success this season. Hopefully, he's just getting used to the Orlando atmosphere and not 'regressing to the mean.'
DONUT 9: Will Being Limited On Bigs Be A Problem?
The Mavs, having lost Dwight Powell for the season due to an achilles injury, and Willie Cauley-Stein, who opted out of NBA restart in Orlando, are somewhat short-handed when it comes to big bodies. Dallas has Porzingis, Maxi Kleber and Boban Marjanovic as its only big men on the roster.
All of those guys are capable of producing at a high level, especially Porzingis, but it leaves room for error when it comes to potential injuries going forward. In a perfect world, everyone will stay healthy during this eight-game seeding period, but if that doesn't happen, it could cause the Mavs a lot of problems if they ended up playing a big team like the Denver Nuggets in the first round.
DONUT 10: Mavs Step Back Podcast
On this episode, we express our joy from the NBA (and Dallas Mavericks basketball, specifically) finally being back in action. We also talk about how the NBA's bubble experiment has been a major success so far, as well determining whether the Mavs' official 'Bubble wins' over-under is too high or too low. Give us a listen!
As always, thank you all for the continued support for this podcast. We thoroughly enjoy talking about the Mavs and having special, insightful guests on from time to time as well. We appreciate every one of you!
DONUT 11: Carlisle On The Indy Loss And Getting KP Back
"Some teams are resting their star players and not even playing them in some of these games," said Carlisle after the 118-111 loss to the Pacers, a game Porzingis didn't play in.
"We’ll have a good practice (Monday) with KP, and we’ll get back to it."
DONUT 12: The Final Word
“We can get higher than we are. We can get up to the four-spot, and we’re looking forward to that. So we want to win all the games." - Luka Doncic.