If one good thing came out of the Dallas Mavericks’ decisive 125-112 defeat to the Boston Celtics, it was that Christian Wood finally played over 30 minutes and spent a good amount of that time alongside Luka Doncic.
The result was a 42-point performance from Doncic and a 26-point, 12-rebound outing from Wood.
Even more shocking was that Wood played 18 second-half minutes and scored 13 of his total points in the fourth quarter. Though garbage time, with the game really decided from the midway point of the second quarter, Wood paired up with Doncic on a number of occasions, appearing to build his confidence as the night progressed. After the game, he was asked whether he should start, and his answer was pretty self-explanatory.
“I think I’m gonna just keep that that personal opinion to myself,” Wood said with a slight smile. “But what I can say is I’m enjoying my time here. I love playing for Dallas. These guys — they support me. They pick me up when I have a bad game. So things are going great.”
Christian Wood off the bench:
Season high 34 minutes. pic.twitter.com/OswskuapO2
— StatMuse (@statmuse) November 24, 2022
Wood is saying and doing the right things, but in his personal opinion, he knows he’s currently the best secondary scorer on Dallas’ roster. Spencer Dinwiddie, who scored 15 points while playing with a hurt shoulder, is dynamic but inconsistent. Dorian Finney-Smith doesn’t create his own shot often. Reggie Bullock is suffering through a shooting slump that leaves him converting only 31 percent of his shots from the field and 29 percent from 3-point range. Tim Hardaway Jr. hasn’t looked close to being the Hardaway of old. And Dwight Powell is never going to fill up the box score. Doncic needs help. Doncic needs Wood.
“We’ve got some new players,” Doncic said. “We’ve got to still find each other and work with each other.”
More opportunities for Christian Wood
Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd has spoken to no-end about trusting his process of figuring out the best version of the Mavericks. He went from starting JaVale McGee to bringing him off the bench. Kidd called on Powell from the end of the bench and thrust him into the starting lineup. But with all the tinkering, he hasn’t tried one obvious solution to Dallas’ offensive struggles — starting Wood.
When broached with the question again after Wednesday’s blowout loss, Kidd hinted that it isn’t out of the question to start Wood, but he isn’t committed to anything yet, per usual.
“You look at what they did,” Kidd said. “They [Doncic and Wood] have a great connection. They did a good job against one of the best teams in the league. So hopefully we can grow from this.”
“This is a dress rehearsal,” he added. “So we’ve got to get all the answers to the test before if you’re lucky enough to make it to the playoffs. You’ve got to look at all the combinations. You’ve got to see who’s playing well.
“And just understand that sometimes change has to happen. It’s just the nature of the sport. There are no hard feelings or anything personal. This is their job and we’re trying to win ballgames. We’re trying to put the right combinations out there.”
One has to hope that while Kidd is looking for the answers to the test, he glances over his shoulder and sees the answer key that is sitting on the bench next to him every night.
Jason Kidd addressed Christian Wood’s playing time… pic.twitter.com/T0uk7gCcWq
— Landon Thomas (@sixfivelando) November 22, 2022
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Feature image via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports