(01-09-2021, 12:24 PM)DanSchwartzman Wrote: Cato had an interesting take about late game O (see below) that I thought was pretty good. I will say that if Maxi hadn't hit that clutch shot with seconds left we'd have a lot to wring our hands over (but he did hit that shot). Game of inches.
"They unveiled an offense in the final five minutes that looked suspiciously like the one we usually see in the first 43. I might even dare say it was the same one, not the bastardized version that moved slower with less purpose seen so often late in games last season. In overtime, Luka Doncic even iced the game with a 2-point jumper, a rare mid-range attempt that circumstantially made every bit of sense. It worked; Dallas went up five points with 33 seconds remaining and won 124-117.
It feels like a cruel calendar prank, but the season only began two-and-a-half weeks ago. After the team’s season-opening defeat to Phoenix, I wrote this:
It’s not just that the problems from last season haven’t been fixed, but that they look unchanged. There’s that same offense, which looks as modern as an astronaut in a spacesuit only for its oxygen to get cut every time the fourth-quarter clock reaches five minutes. There’s the rebounding battle being lost again, including, crucially, on a decisive defensive possession where a missed 3-pointer’s long bounce ended up in Phoenix’s hands. There’s Luka Doncic, huffing during timeouts and hanging out with the referees more than his defensive assignments, still marvelous at basketball but not necessarily showing signs of growth. We were sympathetic when he looked like this four months into last season, worn down by hard fouls and constant expectations, but now he’s had four months off. And we’re still sympathetic, of course, because this team still doesn’t have much creativity around him. This was a game where every starter looked alright, but none looked particularly good.
This game is the inverse, then: an overtime victory against a potential playoff opponent that exhibited real growth in every single area mentioned. The clutch offense? Check. The rebounding battle? Denver had three more, sure, but Dallas grabbed them when needed. Doncic? Well, he scored 38 points on 22 shots with nine rebounds and 13 assists. You tell me. The starters around him? They’ve changed to include Maxi Kleber and Willie Cauley-Stein, who both played incredibly well along with fellow starter Dorian Finney-Smith. Sure, this win came against a Nuggets team that’s down bad right now and missing Michael Porter Jr., but the Mavericks remain without Kristaps Porzingis, an even more significant absence that didn’t faze them Thursday.
Agree that the narrative would likely change greatly if Maxi hadn't made that shot.
Having said that, I was very encouraged by the Mavs' being able to hang in there at the end.