Without Luka Doncic the Dallas Mavericks challenged a lottery bound Cleveland Cavaliers team. The Mavs didn’t let their star rookie being hurt (knee) take their drive. The team rallied behind Hardaway Jr.’s 22 points as he drove the offense to a 121 – 116 win.
That five point lead is incredibly misleading for anyone looking at the box score. This wasn’t a tight game wasn’t as the Mavericks lead the Cavs every second from the 7:34 mark in the first quarter. The lead increased as high as 21 points late in the 2nd quarter. Cleveland made runs of their own but never enough to wash away the differential that Dallas built.
The Mavs ended the night with 7 double-digit scorers on outstanding efficiency. Dallas seemed to have a different player step up every quarter of the game. In the first quarter, Dorian Finney-Smith and the birthday boy Tim Hardaway Jr. put on shooting clinic drawing the first line of separation from their opponent. Then Trey Burke took over in the second giving his team a point for all 11 minutes he played in the quarter. Jalen Brunson held down the third with 14 points of his own and Dirk stepped in the kitchen with 10 points of his own.
The energy the team played with last night permeated both sides of the ball. With 32 assists the ball moved freely especially the few coming from great alley-oops to Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber.
We gotta see this one again… pic.twitter.com/GvnG24SDFu
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) March 17, 2019
Their defensive effort lead to guys flying around and making the right play at the right time. Devin Harris took charges on back-to-back Cavs possessions to stop a brewing run while Kleber seemed to be akin to the flash when closing out. The Mavs handedly won the battle of boards earning extra possessions through offensive rebounds and limiting the Cavs second chances with a plus 4 defensive rebound advantage.
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
With no true timetable for Doncic’s return (Day-to-Day), the Mavericks will have a lot of time to see who will be on this roster long term. Their next game is on Monday against the Pelicans a game in which Dirk will be just 4 points away from tying and 6 points away from passing Wilt Chamberlain.