1.SHOW OF HANDS: OK, let’s have an honest show of hands from those who saw this win by the Mavs coming. With the Mavs in Denver and fresh off Sunday’s disappointing loss at home to Portland, I’m sure there probably weren’t many who thought they would go into Denver and knock off the mighty Nuggets. The previously unbeaten Nuggets. The Nuggets who were the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed last season and who are stacked to the rafters with so much talent that their second unit could probably suit up and beat a lot of team’s first unit on a regular basis. But the Mavs not only won in arguably the NBA’s toughest arena for an opponent, but they did so after falling behind by 11 points. That came two games after the Mavs rallied from a 16-point deficit to win at New Orleans. For you stat collectors, the Mavs won just four times last year after trailing by 10 or more points.
2. BENCH TO THE RESCUE: Who says the Mavs can’t win games if Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis struggle on offense? Well, you can put that hypothesis to rest. Not only did the Mavs win when Doncic and Porzingis combined for just 22 points on 7-of-26 shooting, they never let their superstars’ offensive woes bother them. It was as if the rest of the Mavs used the struggles of Doncic and Porzignis as fuel, and then proceeded to simply take care of business. All five bench players for the Mavs who played scored at least 10 points. That includes 14 points apiece for Maxi Kleber and Tim Hardaway Jr., 12 for Delon Wright, 11 for Jalen Brunson and 10 for Justin Jackson. The Mavs’ bench was 24-of-41 from the field for 58.5 percent, 7-of-15 on 3-pointers for 46.7 percent, and also finished with 61 points, 17 of the team’s 42 rebounds, and 18 of the Mavs’ 29 assists.
3. ROAD SWEET ROAD: For those keeping track, the Mavs are 2-0 on the road this season. To some that may not sound like much. But you must remember that the Mavs only won nine games away from American Airlines Center last season. And they didn’t collect their second road win until they had played nine road games. So, what happened Tuesday night a mile high up in the air was a monumental achievement for a team that’s one of the youngest in the NBA, and for a team that’s really gotten the lion’s share of its production during the first four games from players on their roster who are 29 years old or younger. This type of road win against a Denver team that was one of the best in the league last year at winning games by three points or less – they were 13-3 in those instances – could help a young squad like the Mavs reach greater heights.
4. NINE STRONG: You’ve heard the cliche that a team is only as strong as its weakest link. Well, the Mavs truly didn’t have any weak links on the court Tuesday night. Of the 10 players the Mavs played against the Nuggets, nine of them scored at least 10 points. And you really can’t blame the other player – Dwight Powell – for not scoring 10 points, because this was Powell’s first game since last season as he’s returning from a strained left hamstring that he injured during the first week of training camp. And despite playing just 14 minutes – all in the first half – Powell still was a factor with four points and four rebounds. As for those other nine players who played, this was the only other time in franchise history — since Nov. 6, 1986 in a win over Seattle — that the Mavs had nine players score 10 or more points in a game. When that many players can put the ball through the hoop, that often leaves the defense on skates.
5. PLAYOFF TICKETS PRINTED: Did anyone rush out Tuesday night and print out Mavericks playoff tickets yet? You likely won’t be blamed if you did. What the Mavs accomplished in upending the Nuggets was nothing short of phenomenal. Denver looked like it was about to blow the whole door down right away when Paul Millsap scored 11 points to help the Nuggets race out of the gates to a 16-5 lead. But instead of wilting, the Mavs got mad, huddled up, got re-focused and turned the tables on one of the best teams the NBA has to offer. From a historical perspective, teams don’t fall behind by 11 points in Denver and live to tell anything joyful about what happened to them on that night. Remember, this is a Nuggets team that led the NBA in home wins last season with 34. The Pepsi Center is the place where teams go and literally look forward to playing their next game, because wins for opponents rarely happen in Denver. But the Mavs came out with an improbable victory, despite having all of that going against them.
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