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Mavericks back on the road without Luka Doncic in the lineup

The Dallas Mavericks are headed out for another game on the road in Indianapolis while still dealing with the news that they’ll be without Luka Doncic for awhile.
Credit: AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth
Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson (13) moves the ball up the court against the Miami Heat during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Saturday, Dec 14, 2019.

DALLAS — The weekend started with the continuation of a Texas tradition, with the state’s two largest cities hating each other in every imaginable way possible. 

The Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets entered their match-up with identical records at 29-18 in an early battle for Western Conference Southwest division supremacy. But much of the build-up was deflated when Dallas announced that Luka Doncic would miss the game (and several more) after rolling his ankle prior to the match-up.

Doncic’s game and lethal use of the step-back jumper has drawn heavy comparisons to Houston superstar James Harden, but a salivating match-up between Doncic and Harden will have to wait.

In Doncic’s place as the number 1 option, Kristaps Porzingis had his best game as a Maverick to date, throwing down 35 points and 12 rebounds in the Mavericks loss, 128-121.

Brunson Burner

There would be no rest for the Mavs following their defeat to the Rockets, with back-to-back matchups full of intrigue for Dallas. 

A day after meeting Harden and the Rockets, a confrontation versus Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks followed. The media took a break from asking Trae Young about what it feels like to have been traded for Doncic so they could ask him about the Doncic injury.

Porzingis workload management held him out of the game as he continues to work his way back from knee soreness, leading to increased minutes and opportunities for the deep Dallas bench. Jalen Brunson took full advantage, scoring 27 points in 27 minutes to go with 8 assists in the Dallas win, 123-100.

Former Maverick Vince Carter made his last on-court appearance in front of a Dallas crowd and received a nice send-off, much to the delight of Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki sitting courtside. 

The Mavs took another injury hit late in the game, as Seth Curry left with knee issues and will miss Monday’s match-up with Indiana.

Pace

Indiana currently sits at fifth in the crowded East at 31-18. The Mavericks have lost three of their last five and are 30-19 overall, a half game up on Oklahoma City for sixth in the Western Conference.

Something’s gotta give, as Indiana has ridden their home court to an 18-6 home record, while the Mavericks scrapped their way to 16-7 on the road. The Pacers are 7-3 in their last 10 games, although they have lost two of their last three.

Rick Carlisle’s old flame hates the deep shot. Indiana is dead last in three points attempted per game at 27.3, and next to last in three points made per game at 10.2.

They have sharpshooter’s at their disposal, former Maverick Doug McDermott is shooting 45% from deep, and the Holiday bros. are at 42% (Justin) and 41% (Aaron) respectively.

Hello Again

Porzingis makes his way back to the lineup in Indianapolis to take on Victor Oladipo’s Pacers, continuing to receive scheduled rest as he recovers from the torn ACL that’s about to hit the two-year anniversary mark. 

As Porzingis returns, he will once again be counted to carry the scoring load on his back for a team without Doncic and Curry.

Victor Oladipo can relate. He missed a year of action due to a ruptured quadriceps, and is just now making his way back to the lineup. 

Oladipo made his 2019-2020 debut just last week, and had a LOUD shot against the Bulls in the fourth quarter. He had two field goals in regulation, and one was a game-tying three to send the game into overtime. Look for Indiana’s superstar to be on a minutes restriction.

In his absence, Domantas Sabonis has blossomed into an All-Star. Sabonis was selected to his first All-Star team last month, coming into the game against Dallas with averages of 18.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. 

Sabonis and Myles Turner will pose an intimidating presence inside for Dallas, so the onus will be on Porzingis, Maxi Kleber, and Willie Cauley-Stein to find outside shooters when the post gets clogged and use the Pacer’s identity as a mid-range team against them.

Do you think the Mavericks will be able to fend off the Pacers without their All-Star Luka? Share your predictions with Irvin on Twitter @Twittirv.

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