The Mavericks have escaped their three scrimmages in the Orlando bubble seemingly unscathed on the injury front. The final game of their three game slate of scrimmages (unfortunately) required overtime to decide on Tuesday night but Dallas was able to escape with a 118-115 win over the Joel Embiid-less Philadelphia 76ers. After three scrimmages in the bubble that can be insanely competitive and feel like a regular season game one minute and then look like a game with nothing but end of bench guys playing in crunch time the next, it’s next to impossible to put your finger on what exactly should be taken away from these games. Well, these things we know are true…
Trey Burke officially begins his second stint in Dallas
After signing Burke at the beginning of the month, the 27-year-old joined the Mavericks in the Orlando bubble last Friday after some “logistical” issues delayed his arrival. With J.J. Barea being the first guard off the bench over the first two games, it was very clear Dallas needed a bit more spring in their primary option off the bench. Burke eased into things with a solid 22 minutes on Tuesday night while scoring 9 points and 3 assists on 3-8 shooting. Burke looked most comfortable crafting his way through the paint for buckets.
“He’s a factor,” Rick Carlisle said of Burke after the game. “He puts pressure on the defense. Defensively he’s picked it up, he’s given us full court pressure and he’s causing problems out there. He’s a guy that’s going to be able to help us.”
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) July 29, 2020
While it’s tough to predict how heavily Burke will be used once the games start to count on Friday, I feel confident that his impact will be felt. There might be some games or situations where Rick Carlisle sticks with his trusted veteran leader in J.J. Barea, but there might be another game where Burke shows off just how capable he is of breaking out with 15+ points on any given night. While he averaged just 5.9 points in 25 games with the Mavs last season, he scored 15+ in 6 of his 25 games in a Dallas uniform.
Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis appear ready to go
While Seth Curry’s torrid shooting dominated the headlines in last Wednesday’s game against the Lakers, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis have shown that they’re ready for the games to count again in the the last two games. While Porzingis missed Sunday’s matinee with the Indiana Pacers due to missing his mandatory COVID test, he came out firing in the first quarter tonight to make up for it. KP scored 13 of his 17 points on the night in the first quarter and a few buckets came in ways Mavs fans are used to seeing.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) July 29, 2020
Luka Doncic continued to look in mid-season form with a masterful 23 point/7 rebound/6 assist performance in just 26 minutes. He could have easily had several more assists if teammates had made open shots. He obviously could have eclipsed 30 points if given more minutes. What has stood out the most in the three games in the bubble is just how dominant Luka is at scoring the basketball in the paint. He gets there with relative easy and he always seems in complete control of the situation with defenders right on his back. The control in the paint has obviously been there all season long with his two point field goal percentage being over 50% this season and him earning over nine free throws a game thanks to contact at the basket. Now if he could only drain those free throws at a better rate than 75%.
What did these games even mean?
Again, the competitive ebbs and flows of these games were insane. They were similar to regular preseason games, but it does feel like the regulars did get a bit more burn in them than those. But like with each of the previous scrimmages, there were moments when the Mavs starting lineup looked great and then there were times when they looked out of sorts. The same could be said for Philadelphia without Joel Embiid.
Both teams shot around 29% from deep on the night and there were long stretches of cold offense and turnovers. This game went to overtime and the Mavs main contributors in the extra five minutes were two-way players Antonius Cleveland and Josh Reaves. While both had very commendable performances, especially Cleveland with 14 points in 17 minutes, it’s hard to take what you’re seeing on the court as too serious of an indication of what the Mavs will be offering on Friday night against the Houston Rockets.
The wait is almost over, Mavericks fans. Just a couple more sleeps and you’ll finally be able to see Dallas playing in games that impact the standings. Not too long after that, we’ll get our first taste of Mavericks playoff basketball in over four years. It has been too long.
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