The Dallas Mavericks (7-7) were able to outlast the Indiana Pacers (8-6) in a 124-112 victory, which ended their three-game losing streak behind an effort that saw the complimentary pieces shine.
Luka vs. The Box
Every single team in the NBA knows the game plan when it comes to facing Dallas: Stop Luka Doncic and hope for the best. Even Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle knows it.
After a demoralizing loss against the Raptors on Monday, in which Luka arguably had one of his toughest games in his NBA career, not to mention Carlisle being ejected in the first quarter, there was a bad taste left in everyone’s mouth.
Managing only 11 shot attempts, Luka looked flustered the entire contest while the Raptors’ box-and-one defense worked its magic.
Doncic had previously made remarks to the media the day before saying he was too “selfish,” which may have led to the reduced looks at the basket, but the eye test says it was the defensive scheme by Toronto.
Clearly the burden placed on Luka’s shoulders to single handedly carry the offense is too heavy to bear, and it showed.
With a head coach as highly regarded for in-game adjustments and strategy as Carlisle, you had to assume the Mavs would have a plan for Luka to break the box, it just so happens that all Luka needs to do is trust his teammates down the stretch.
Doncic finished with what may be a lackluster performance to some eyes, finishing fifth on the team in points while shooting 33% from the field, yet he still finished with a triple-double to the tune of 13 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists.
Sidekicks strutting their stuff
The Mavs weren’t about to let the ship sink again when the Pacers implemented their own box-and-one scheme, as Kristaps Porzingis led the way with 27 points, 13 rebounds and one block.
Trey Burke came out of the gates out on a mission, scoring 16 points in the first-half and ended up initiating a lot of the offensive action during crunch time too with Luka patrolling the wings. Burke finished with 22 points, three assists and hit 4/8 three-pointers.
While Burke’s scoring cooled off in the second-half, Tim Hardaway Jr. picked up right where he left off, nailing a few big time shots down the stretch of the fourth quarter to separate the lead even further, finishing with 19 points on 3/6 shooting from downtown.
Rookie Josh Green took full advantage of his opportunity when placed into the starting lineup with eight points, six rebounds, three assists and one beautiful Dirk-esque one-legged fadeaway on the baseline in 23 minutes of action.
KP vs. the Pacers
It’s no secret Kristaps Porzingis has a unique and almost unreplicatable skillset, but boy, does he love to put it on display when he plays the Pacers.
While he *only* scored 27 points tonight (on an efficient 12/15 shooting from the field), KP has scored a career-high 40 points in 2017, and more recently 38 points on Feb. 3 2020, when playing Indiana.
The Pacers were without starting center and league-leading shot blocker Myles Turner, which certainly would have taken away from Dallas’ 68 points in the paint, but would it have affected KP drastically too?
One may say that this game signals Porzingis is fully back, while doubters may point to his past history of punishing the Pacers as just a usual performance.
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