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Despite Luka’s absence, the Mavericks held their own

Despite Luka’s absence, the Mavericks held their own

 

The Dallas Mavericks have played essentially five games without their superstar, Luka Doncic now. Despite facing a murderer’s row of the Eastern Conference’s top 5 teams and a 2-3 resulting record, the Mavericks more than proved themselves competent even in Doncic’s absence. Before a historic fourth-quarter collapse Sunday against the defending champion Raptors, Dallas forged a 30-point lead on the road against a top 3 defense. In the days before that, they traveled to Philadelphia where they shellacked the 76ers. This was after they had outlasted Giannis Antetkounmpo and the Bucks in Milwaukee. An overtime loss to Miami and a six-point defeat at the hands of the Celtics rounded out the Donic-less week. So while the record does have a pair of unfortunate blemishes, it nevertheless demonstrates a team more than capable of holding its own with the big boys. These failures will only serve to strengthen the young Mavericks.

In December of 2010, the Dallas Mavericks got off to their best 28 game start in franchise history with a record of 23-5. That momentum would be brought to a halting screech, however, on December 28th when star Dirk Nowitzki went down with a sprained MCL in Oklahoma City. While Dallas would win that game, they would go on to lose 7 of their next 9 without him. Making matters worse for the Mavs, their second-leading scorer, Caron Butler would be lost for the season just three games into Dirk’s absence. It was a disastrous turn for Dallas but one through which they would learn to play and compete with the league’s finest, even without their former MVP. These Mavs in 2019 are far better equipped to handle their star’s absence.

Depending on who you ask, Luka Doncic could return as soon as tonight against San Antonio. The Mavs will have had four days to stew over the debacle in Toronto, and the added emotional punch of Doncic’s return could conceivably lift the team to another yet another dominant win in 2019. Even if Luka doesn’t return before year’s end, the team will be fine as he continues to mend his mild ankle sprain. This is thanks in large part to Kristaps Porzingis, who has elevated his game over the past week, stringing together a career-best four straight 20-10 games his 19-12 stat line in Toronto halted his streak. Without Doncic, Porzingis has averaged 22.4 points on 42% shooting and 36% from beyond the arc. He’s also snatched 13.8 rebounds, and returned 2.6 shots per game over that span. In short, he’s finding beginning to find himself again. If there’s no other silver-lining to Luka’s injury, this is a plus.

As Dallas solidifies itself as a sound roster and KP rounds back into his pre-injury, All-Star form, the potential ceiling for this team continues to rise. Such was the case in 2010, and such may well be the case now. Luka Doncic’s usage rate has been insanely high to begin the season, and Dallas would certainly like to lower it a bit. Improving the quality of their bench and role players in order to demand less of him would be ideal, and it looks to be happening even now. Whether history will repeat itself remains to be seen.

The Dallas Cowboys & Mavericks Staff Writer for Dallas Sports Fanatic, as well as the founder of The Dallas Prospect, "DDP" covers a wide range of sports and pop culture topics. His work can be found here as well as TheDallasProspect.com and The Dallas Prospect YouTube channel.

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