After a Rodeo Road Trip that can only be characterized as disastrous, the Spurs are back within the friendly confines of the AT&T Center. After going just 2-8 during the yearly road trip, ending it with a stinker in Oklahoma City against the Thunder. They return home nearly 5 games behind the 8th seeded Memphis Grizzlies, with a record 23rd-straight playoff berth looking more and more unlikely.
Still, though, there are positives. Although he posted a donut in the final game of the road trip, Dejounte Murray scored at least 20 points in back to back games, including a career-high 25 before the All Star break against, ironically, the Thunder. We’ve also seen a bit more of the Murray-Derrick White combo as well, with White also having a solid stretch as of late. The Spurs also managed to come away with wins against both OKC and the Utah Jazz, two teams that will definitely make the playoffs this season.
First up during what will be a 3-game home stand is the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks, who have had a very good season, are currently the 7th seed out West, but just 4 games back in the loss column of the 3rd seeded Clippers. Dallas is coming off a 139-123 win over the Timberwolves, a game in which they put up 81-first half points.
Dallas Mavericks (35-23) vs. San Antonio Spurs (24-31)
February 26, 2020 | 7:30 PM CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: LaMarcus Aldridge (shoulder — OUT)
Mavericks Injuries: Willie Cauley-Stein (OUT), Jalen Brunson (shoulder — OUT)
Luka Doncic is dealing with an ankle injury, but how much of a deterrent will it be for him, both tonight and down the stretch?
The Mavericks’ 2nd year star forward is enjoying an extraordinary season, putting up averages of 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 8.6 assists per game. He is the de facto point guard for Dallas, playing a huge part in Dallas’ #1 Offensive Rating ranking.
He is, though, playing through an injury right now. Doncic missed the Mavericks’ game against the Atlanta Hawks last Saturday with what was called right ankle soreness. This is the same ankle that caused him to miss 4 games back in December and 7 straight games at the end of January/beginning of February. After a 20 point, 9 rebound, 7 assist performance against Minnesota Monday night, Doncic had this to say about his ankle injury:
Luka Doncic says the ankle is still bothering him. “That’s why I missed the game in Atlanta. I just try to keep the swelling down.” Has managed to average 27.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 7.7 assists in the three games he’s played since returning. https://t.co/bH7wQ42Gpg— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) February 25, 2020
Whether he has been 100% or not, Doncic has been a handful for the Spurs in the past and if those per game numbers since his latest return from injury suggest anything, they will have their hands full once again with the Dallas Maestro.
A change of scenery (and role) is doing wonders for Tim Hardaway Jr.
Tim Hardaway Jr. is enjoying a strong season for Dallas, averaging 15 points and shooting a career high 41% from beyond the arc. After spending the early part of his career on floundering Knicks teams and a Hawks team in flux. Hardaway seems to have found a comfortable home in the Dallas offense where he can play off Doncic and, to a lesser extent, Kristaps Porzingis. Mavs head coach and Pop pal Rick Carlisle had plenty of good things to say about the 7th year guard out of Michigan following a 23-point performance on Monday against the Timberwolves:
Rick Carlisle on Tim Hardaway Jr., who has emerged as a potent third option for the Mavs: “I just love the way he plays. He goes hard. He cares about winning. He’s one of our leaders. He’s had a great year. ... He’s about the right stuff. He’s a culture guy.”— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) February 25, 2020
Hardaway scored 17 points to help the Mavericks come away with a 102-98 victory in Dallas two days after Christmas the last time these two clubs met.
Please, continue to be patient with Dejounte Murray!
In the first two games following the All Star break, Dejounte Murray looked like the guy that Spurs’ fans have been waiting to show up. Murray, who is coming off an ACL injury that kept him out the entire 2018-2019 season, has shown flashes of the player both he and the Spurs eventually hope can be in the future throughout the season. His 25-point performance before the break against the Thunder and the 23 he scored against the Utah Jazz in the first game after it were examples of the bar that Murray hopes to set for himself one day.
That he followed it up with game in which he scored 0 points in an 0-7 performance to close out the Rodeo Road Trip in Oklahoma City shouldn’t worry anyone. Not only did the entire team have a poor shooting display, it is right in line with what to expect for not only a younger player, but one coming off such a horrible injury. There will be more performances like the two he had in Oklahoma City as he continues to both become completely comfortable in his body once more and as he continues to refine his game.
Until then, revel in the great games and look for the silver linings in the not-so-great ones.
For the Mavericks fan’s perspective, please visit Mavs Money Ball.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.