Mavs Look Solid Without Doncic Despite Two Losses

Luka Doncic

Getty Luka Doncic talks to Boban Marjanovic on the bench against the Phoenix Suns.

The Dallas Mavericks have now played two games without Luka Doncic, who’s recovering from two left leg injuries. With how important he is for the success of the Mavs, it has been surprising how good the team has looked in his temporary absence. 

If you look at their record without Doncic through these two games, you wouldn’t think this was the case. They’ve dropped both contests, but only by an average of 7.5 points. 

Additionally, both games were on the road against the Phoenix Suns. They’re the hottest team in the NBA, currently on an 11-game winning streak with the second best record in the league at 12-3. 

With that in mind, these past two games without Doncic have actually been somewhat positive, as other players have gotten the opportunity to step up and gain confidence. 

How did Dallas look these past two games without their superstar?

Perimeter Success

There’s no question that the Mavs need Doncic to be at their best, but it should be refreshing for fans to see the performance of the team without him. 

The Mavericks have been without Doncic since Nov. 16, spanning over two games. During that timeframe, Dallas has been one of the top 3-point shooting teams. At 38.9% from beyond the arc, the team has been fourth in the league in this span. 

This success has been derived from excellent passing and ball movement. The Mavs have generated the eighth most assists in the league since losing Doncic, with 26.5 per game. 

Dallas has also been a solid rebounding team, pulling down 44.5 per game, good for 14th in the NBA. 

While their overall defense hasn’t been great, with a 110.2 rating (21st in NBA), the Mavs have produced the second highest number of steals (10.0 per game) in this span. 

While the Mavericks have gone 0-2 without Doncic, the team has performed at a surprisingly high level. 

Filling the Void

To perform at this level without a superstar player in the lineup, it takes others stepping up. Through the last two games, Kristaps Porzingis has been the team’s best player while averaging 22.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. He’s shot 38.5% from deep while also playing excellent defense with 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. 

Kristaps Porzingis, Mavericks, at left

GettyKristaps Porzingis, Mavericks, at left

Jalen Brunson has been the player directly promoted into the starting lineup for Doncic, and has done a spectacular job. With large shoes to fill, he’s produced 18.0 points, 9.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds per contest while shooting 37.5% from beyond the arc. He’s gotten help from Tim Hardaway Jr. in the backcourt, who’s averaged 20.0 points per game in the absence of Doncic, despite shooting poorly. 

Outside of the core players on the team, Dallas has seen two role players emerge over the past two games as well. 

Defensive-minded guard Frank Ntilikina has averaged 8.5 point, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game while shooting 42.9% from 3. Giving the Mavs key bench minutes while shooting well and defending at a high level has proven to be key. 

Finally, Dorian Finney-Smith has found his shooting touch once again, averaging 10.0 points over the last two games while shooting 54.5% from deep on 5.5 attempts per contest. He shot just 30.6% on the season coming into these past two games, which is a huge step in the right direction for Dallas. 

These games were both losses, but may prove to be important as the players that make up the roster around Doncic have gotten great experience and confidence.

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