DALLAS, Texas – There’s only one major takeaway from last night’s road game, as the Dallas Mavericks survived a late thriller from the Chicago Bulls Monday night, with a 103-98 victory. Harrison Barnes led the Mavericks with his normal 23-point contribution, along with five rebounds and four steals. On the other side, Zach LaVine was the heart and soul for Chicago, scoring 26 points in 41 minutes.
Shaky First Half
Like several games this season, Dallas got off to their normal slow start and that may have had something to do with their starting point guard, Dennis Smith Jr. For the second consecutive game, Smith went scoreless in the first quarter as the Mavs were looking for answers offensively. It wasn’t until their bench were able to rally some scoring as the Mavs took a 25-20 lead after one. Smith only attempted two shots in that quarter.
Smith checked back into the game with 5:22 remaining in the second quarter and attempted one 26-foot jumper, commits two fouls and a turnover as the Mavericks took a 56-49 lead at the half. Smith went scoreless for the entire second half.
Slightly Better Second Half
The second half frame-work for Smith was a lot better as he scored three of the Mavs first five baskets to make up for his horrific first half. His final buckets would come mid-way through the fourth quarter as Smith finished the night with 11 points.
Have We Seen This Before?
Similar to this game, Smith displayed the same level of play in their previous home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Although the Mavs were victorious in that contest 111-96, and snapped the Thunder’s seven-game winning streak, it was another slow start for Smith who went scoreless in the first quarter and didn’t score his first field goal until the second quarter with 4:44 remaining.
Luckily for Dennis Smith, there has a been several other saviors for the Mavericks to pick up the slack. The first that comes to mind is Dorian Finney-Smith who was inserted in last night’s starting lineup in the absence of Wesley Matthews. He’s explosive off the bench and has proven that he can play with the starters. Next, Luka Doncic who leads all rookies in scoring with 20 PPG. There’s nothing but major upside for this kid who will have a long and successful career in the NBA. Lastly, veteran J.J. Barea. After that heartbreaking 113-108 OT loss to the Spurs on Oct. 29, Barea has been a man on a mission, posting a +73 over the last six games. Not to mention his 14-point performance on 50% shooting in last night’s game to follow his 21-point production in their victory against the Thunder.
Who’s To blame?
The starters are a complete mess right now and it starts with their point guard. He has to get going much more sooner. The fact that the Mavericks won a game with all five of their starting line-ups posting a negative plus-minus is absolutely mind blowing. As the season progress, Smith can’t rely on scoring from the bench and just stand in the shadows. I am aware that he’s shooting 45% from the field and nearly 40% from 3-point. But as a starter, he’s 61st in the league in terms of field goals attempted. He needs to be more aggressive early on. To stay up to date on all things Mavericks and more, be sure to subscribe to You Can Argue That Sports and receive notifications of new posts and podcasts by email