3 things like the Mavericks rally and beating the 76ers, 118-115

The Dallas Mavericks faced the Philadelphia 76ers in their third and final scrimmage, and for the most part, this game closely resembled two teams that just wanted to make it to the eight-game regular season.

The 76ers looked particularly terrible shooting 5-for-27 from the field in the first quarter. The Mavericks disputed shots, but Philadelphia was unable to purchase a cube. For Dallas, Kristaps Porzingis started with 13 points and five rebounds, but Luka Doncic fought early. Still, the Mavericks took a 24-13 lead after one.

The 76ers came back into the game when the Mavericks bench unit failed to protect the lead. Philadelphia cut the lead to just five, but the starters were able to find a cushion, maintaining a 48-39 lead in the middle.

With a quick 10-2 run, the 76ers were able to take the lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter, largely because Al Horford woke up from his first-half dream inflating points from across the floor. Fortunately for Dallas, Doncic was able to impose his will on Matisse Thybulle and other helpless 76ers with Ben Simmons sitting for the rest of the game. That kept Dallas at a surprising distance even though the 76ers outscored Dallas by 15 in the fourth and scored 41 points overall. Philadelphia had an 80-74 lead after three frames.

After being dominated in the third quarter, Dallas went 12-2 to tie the game at 86. From there, the teams exchanged shots, but Dallas stayed close thanks to Antonius Cleveland and JJ Barea, the latter being the only hope of the Mavericks.

In 10 minutes in the fourth quarter, JJ Barea scored 11 points and designed a miraculous return that was a Josh Reaves layup away from a regulation win. He maintained heroic overtime by burying a three dagger and preparing teammates for easy buckets. He finished the game with 14 points in 15 minutes and was the Most Valuable Player in the Mavericks final regulation game, where they won 118-115.

Kristaps Porzingis started strong but left

Porzingis could be the Mavericks’ biggest X factor for the playoffs. We know what we’ll get from Doncic, so if Porzingis and Doncic can flip the switch, Dallas will be tough. Tonight Porzingis looked good on his way to a 25-point, 10-rebound game as he racked up 14 points and 10 rebounds in the first half. He demonstrated scoring on all three levels in attack. He connected from deep, hit a patented one-legged fadeaway Dirk Nowitzki and sealed Al Horford low to score an easy bucket.

He was mostly calm in the second half as Doncic went to work, but allowed Horford to find his rhythm as the 76ers ran into a second half and never looked back. Porzingis finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds, but was unable to block a shot. Overall, it was a good start for the great man in his final set-up.

The bank needs work

The Mavericks started the game hard, and the bench quickly allowed the 76ers to return to the game with poor defense and a selection of shots. Trey Burke was a breath of fresh air, but he clearly doesn’t have enough juice to kick-start the bench. The bank is riddled with passivity, led by Delon Wright and Justin Jackson. While it might just be a scrimmage tactic, the Mavericks rely too heavily on Boban Marjanovic as a rescue option that is not a good strategy.

Antonius Cleveland earned his strength

The Mavericks severely lack wing depth, so each game is a potential audition, and Cleveland looked good compared to some of its counterparts. In 17 minutes, Cleveland scored 14 points with four rebounds. He was instrumental in keeping Dallas within reach in the fourth quarter and showed rebound, energy, and hustle. Chances are he doesn’t get burned much when the real things start, but he’s making the most of his time with the Mavericks and probably deserves a chance when it counts.

Here is the post-game podcast, Mavs Moneyball after dark. If you can’t see the insert under “More from Mavs Moneyball”, Click here. And if you haven’t already, subscribe by searching for “Mavs Moneyball podcast” in your favorite podcast app.