This one hurt.
The Dallas Mavericks took on the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night. What proceeded during the game was an offensive thrashing that left Dallas on the wrong side of a 147-116 scoreboard. And the blow out loss left more questions than answers for Dallas going forward.
The game by the numbers:
Dallas’ defense gave up 40 points to Kelly Oubre Jr, which is good enough for his career-high. The struggling forward found his rhythm early, scoring 14 of his 40 points in the second quarter. On the game, he shot 14-21 from the field and 7-10 from three.
It’s fitting that Oubre had his best game of the season against Dallas. This team struggles to defend perimeter-oriented forwards. And to be frank, Oubre and his teammates came into the American Airlines Center and flat-out punked Dallas for 48 minutes.
By halftime of Thursday’s contest, the Mavs allowed an astonishing 74 points. Warriors superstar Stephen Curry scored 20 of them on 6-12 shooting from the field and 4-8 from three.
And though Dallas’ offense managed to scorch the nets, totaling 76 points at the half, the lack of accountability and effort on defense didn’t allow the team to pull away. On a night when things finally seemed to fall into place for Dallas’ offense, Golden State had a buffet of open baskets to feast on.
This didn’t look right:
The Warriors didn’t play a traditional five in Thursday’s game. Meaning, for long stretches of the game, Porzingis was the tallest player on the floor. However, even with the immense height advantage for long stretches of the game, he still found himself stretched out to the three-point line most of the night.
In 25 minutes, Porzingis scored 25 points, going 9-16 from the field and 5-8 from three. Everyone knows he can shoot and stretch the floor. That asset is what makes his game so special at seven feet tall. Yet, what Porzingis needs to avoid is becoming a specialist. His game has more dexterity in it than just sitting at the three-point line. At his size, he has both the mobility and quickness to possess a dominant post-up/face-up game. That is what makes centers like Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic so special–they don’t limit their game to one aspect of the floor. Porzingis needs to do the same. And Thursday night against the Warriors was a perfect opportunity to take control of the game and dominate for long stretches. Instead, we saw him float around the perimeter and not take advantage of great matchups after defensive switches.
That is not to say he had a bad game. He played aggressively and hunted for his shots. He just didn’t dominate the game in a way that a seven-footer should when there is no true center on the floor.
Porzingis is way too talented to simply be a specialist. He needs to stop boxing himself into role player categories when he holds superstar potential.
Looking ahead after loss to Warriors:
Even after a win against Atlanta, the problems that have plagued Dallas came back against the Warriors. There seems to be no answer to the Mavs’ inconsistent defensive effort. If things continue this way, it might be time to say, “this is exactly who the Mavs are this season.” And as it stands now, there are more games with poor defensive efforts than there are games with great defensive efforts. At least there is round two of this matchup to look forward to on Saturday. Hopefully, Dallas comes ready to step up to the challenge.
Feature image via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports