Tuesday night, Real Madrid defeated the Dallas Mavericks 127-123. Dallas was led by Tim Hardaway Jr.’s 21 points, while Madrid was led by former Maverick great Facundo Campazzo’s 20 points. The Mavericks’ preseason difficulties continue as they go 0-for-3 abroad.
Both teams launched a barrage of three-pointers in the game’s opening moments. Real Madrid’s first six long-range shots were successful, with Sergio Llull converting three of them in the opening minutes of play. Due to a left calf injury, Luka Doncic, who was only able to play for five minutes today, equaled Llull’s three triples. Madrid set the tempo for a frantic encounter, as both sides ran, shot, and scored at will in the first stanza.
In the second period, the teams kept exchanging punches. Tim Hardaway Jr. began to falter a little, but Madrid’s constant pressure on the ball allowed them to take a slim lead. In the middle of the half, the Maverick offense struggled, but they ultimately got their footing and finished the half well. Hardaway and Grant Williams each made three straight three-pointers in the last minutes to help Dallas lead by 71-65 at the break.
Within the opening few minutes of the third quarter, Dallas had a double-digit lead after leaving the locker room. Doncic was replaced by Seth Curry in the starting lineup, and he helped the offense get rolling. The Mavericks had a particularly strong basketball phase; they played quickly, made their shots, and were aggressive defenders. Madrid persisted in their battle, though, and Dallas was only able to hold a 99-90 advantage after three.
In the opening few minutes of the fourth quarter, Real Madrid went on a brief run that reduced Dallas’ advantage to six points. However, the Mavericks made a great comeback, regaining a double-digit lead in large part because to Dante Exum’s productive minutes. After Dallas used up all of its reserves, Madrid ultimately made a strong comeback and finally took the lead with 1:30 to go, 120-118. In a game of vengeance, Facundo Campazzo sealed the deal on the Mavericks by contributing seven crucial points to Real Madrid’s third victory against an NBA foe. Despite the outcome, it was an entertaining game; here are three lessons we can learn from it.
The starting lineup is still much up in the air
In as many preseason games, Jason Kidd wore a third different starting lineup tonight. It’s not yet known who will start with Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic if they are fit due to Kyrie Irving’s lingering injury. Kidd started Derrick Jones Jr. and Dante Exum against Madrid after starting Josh Green and Jaden Hardy in the second Abu Dhabi game. Jones Jr. and Exum both had enjoyable moments today, but it’s pretty clear that neither will start the regular season. It’s intriguing that Kidd is reportedly still fiddling, however. Derrick Lively II has now started the first three preseason games, it should be noted. He seems to be getting closer to securing the starting center position on opening night. Doncic, Irving, Grant Williams, and Lively may be listed as starters, pending health. Josh Green seems to be the strongest option for that last position based on his physical condition and preseason performance. Exum + Jones Jr. are insufficient, Olivier Maxence-Prosper isn’t prepared, and Hardaway Jr. doesn’t fit defensively. Even if Green’s shooting wasn’t at its best today, he still had a solid night overall. He merits a starting position.
The second unit was good
Hardaway Jr. scored 21 of the Mavericks’ 79 (! ) bench points today. Seth Curry, Dwight Powell, and Josh Green were a handsome trio. Dante Exum may have been Dallas’ finest player, despite the fact that he got the start of the game. You may be certain after seeing all of these performances that the Mavericks could have a potent bench group this year. It’s also crucial to remember that Jaden Hardy only played a little amount of minutes prior to the fourth quarter, while O-Max and Richuan Holmes didn’t even enter the game until then. I don’t want to overinterpret anything, but it may mean that these guys are less essential to the rotation than some of the others who got more playing time tonight. Whatever the case, it’s clear that the Mavericks’ depth has significantly increased from last season.
Should we be alarmed by the star pair of the Mavericks’ injuries?
Two weeks before the start of the season, Luka Doncic joined Kyrie Irving on the injured list after suffering a calf strain during practice yesterday. Should we be concerned about this at all? It’s difficult for me to conceive that the Mavericks would let Doncic play even five minutes in Doncic’s situation if the calf ailment was that significant. I get that they let him to play because of how important this game was to him, but even so, it seems like they wouldn’t agree if the stress was severe. Doncic’s preseason is probably gone, and he’ll have a few weeks to recover before San Antonio’s season-opening game. Given that we don’t know a lot about Irving’s groin injury, the prognosis for him appears a little cloudier. Irving’s groin pain was described as “still growing” by Jason Kidd yesterday, and Marc Stein said on the broadcast that there is currently no set date for Irving to return. Groins may be tough, so it’s important to pay attention to them. Fortunately, the Mavericks’ star tandem has time to make amends. I wouldn’t lose my cool right now.