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HomeBasketball TodayTurning L's into Lessons: 2 Mavericks Silver Linings after Cavs Heartbreak

Turning L’s into Lessons: 2 Mavericks Silver Linings after Cavs Heartbreak

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Focusing on the positives and looking at two promising takeaways after the Mavericks lost to the Cavs in heartbreaking fashion.

The Dallas Mavericks were defeated in heartbreaking fashion on Tuesday night after Max Strus hit a jaw-dropping buzzer-beater to give the Cleveland Cavaliers a 121-119 win. Dallas did not play their best game but they almost still escaped with a victory.

A win would have given them confidence on their current road trip. Their loss on Sunday to the Indiana Pacers snapped a seven-game winning streak, but a victory on Tuesday would have made them 1-1 on the road trip. And overall, the Mavericks would have had more momentum heading into Wednesday’s game in Toronto.

Instead, Strus’ wild shot from beyond half court handed the Mavs a second consecutive loss. It was a shocking turn of events, and Mavericks fans probably didn’t wake up on Wednesday in the best mood. So let’s focus on the positives.

Tuesday’s game did not end the way Dallas wanted, but there still is reason for hope after this loss.

Mavericks take care of the basketball

This Mavericks team takes care of the ball. Turnovers can be costly and often impact even the best teams.

Dallas turned the ball over just five times on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Cavs had 16 turnovers. You are typically going to find a way to win with that kind of lead in the turnover department. The game against Cleveland was an exception, but Dallas’ ability to take care of the basketball is a positive takeaway.

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In fact, the Mavericks are third in limiting turnovers per game during the 2023-24 season with a mark of 12.4, per NBA.com. Almost every team within the top five is a contender with the exception of the Chicago Bulls, who rank second. The Philadelphia 76ers lead the league in limiting their turnovers, while the Boston Celtics are fourth. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Denver Nuggets are tied for fifth.

Taking care of the ball leads to wins.

Luka Doncic, who has one of the highest usage rates in the NBA and often has the ball in his hands, is averaging 3.9 turnovers per game. That mark is the highest on the team but Doncic offers enough all-around production in other ways to still help Dallas despite his turnovers.

The next highest mark on the team belongs to PJ Washington Jr., who is averaging just 1.7 turnovers per outing. Kyrie Irving is third.

This Mavericks team will bounce back if they can continue to avoid giving the ball away.

Mavs are finding ways to score in the paint

Dallas has often relied on the three-point shot during the 2023-24 season. Doncic and Irving are obviously capable of getting to the basket and scoring, but the Mavs have been searching for ways to score more consistently in the paint.

They accomplished that goal on Tuesday.

The Mavericks scored 50 points in the paint compared to the Cavs’ 42. Dallas didn’t sacrifice three-point efficiency either, recording a percentage of 42.4.

They took seven less three-point attempts than Cleveland. The Cavs relied on the three-point shot which can be risky. For Cleveland, though, it worked as they shot 50 percent from deep.

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Nevertheless, the Mavericks’ points in the paint improvement was on full-display against the Cavaliers. It will be interesting to see if they can continue to score near the basket.

According to teamrankings.com, the Mavs rank just 28th in points in the paint per game with 46.2, leading only the Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies. Dallas doesn’t need to be the best team in this department, but finding more consistency will ease the burden of relying on the three-point shot.

Looking ahead

Overall, Dallas has still played well in recent action. They have won seven of their past nine games. Of course, they have dropped two in a row so defeating the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday will be important.

Dallas will then have a difficult matchup to end the road trip on Friday against the Boston Celtics before returning home to host the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.

The Celtics game will be a big test. The Celtics are the NBA’s best team and many analyst’s pick to reach the NBA Finals. Earning a victory on the road in Boston would work wonders for the Mavericks’ confidence and momentum moving forward.

Joey Mistretta_headshot

About the Author

Joey Mistretta is a Dallas Mavericks beat reporter and lead MLB editor for ClutchPoints. He is originally from a small town in Southern California. Mistretta graduated college with a degree in broadcast journalism from Biola University.

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