Dallas Mavericks Breaking news Dwight Powell is good — again

Dallas Mavericks Breaking news Dwight Powell is good — again

Dallas Mavericks Dallas Mavericks Dwight — good Breaking again news: Powell is

Sun, 25 Apr 2021 04:00:00 -0700

The Mavericks just beat the Los Angeles Lakers in two straight games


Granted, it was a Lakers team without LeBron James and a rusty Anthony Davis, but still two 

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More than a year removed from a devastating injury, Powell is looking like his old self again.

In sports, it’s really easy on the outside looking in to grow inpatient. You want new acquisitions to pop off right away, returning players to look like themselves. Sometimes that happens, and it’s great! Sometimes it doesn’t. That doesn’t always mean something is Wrong, it just takes time. Dwight Powell is proof of that.

About 15 months ago, Powell tore his Achillies. It’s one of the worst injuries in basketball, sometimes a career-ender. At the very least, you’re usually not the same player after the injury that you were before. Things are starting to change with advancements in medicine and physical therapy, but it’s still a bleak injury. Powell returned from his injury 11 months later and when you watched him on the court in training camp, preseason and the early games, he looked OK, but you knew he wasn’t OK.

That’s sort of how it is with one of the worst injuries in basketball. Recovering from an Achillies injury doesn’t stop when you step on the floor. You’re back, but you’re not actually back. It’s a grueling process. It was easy to see with Powell early on — he shot around 40 percent from the floor in the first two months of 2021 and the Mavericks lacked a consistent rim-running threat that Powell used to provide. The juice Powell gave the Mavericks offense was gone, zapped by a brutal injury and recovery process. That didn’t necessarily mean it was gone forever though. We’re starting to see that right now.

The Mavericks just beat the Los Angeles Lakers in two straight games. Granted, it was a Lakers team without LeBron James and a rusty Anthony Davis, but still two fairly impressive wins nonetheless when you consider how much the Mavericks struggled at times in April. Powell had his fingerprints all over these games, especially Saturday night where he scored 25 points on 11-of-12 shooting. After Saturday night, it’s starting to shift into focus: Dwight Powell is good, again.

By far the biggest difference Saturday night and the past few weeks has been Powell regaining his touch and explosiveness near the rim. Before his injury, Powell was regularly a monster finishing in the restricted area, shooting above 70 percent. In the first few months of the season, Powell was in the low 60s, clearly not himself.

Against the Lakers, he was able to finish in a variety of situations at the rim. He wasn’t just flushing wide open dunks, but making smart plays and finishing through contact.

When Powell is really going well, he starts opening things up just be going hard to the rim. In the play below, Dorian Finney-Smith is wide open in the corner, which leads to him attacking the closeout and finding Powell at the rim for another easy basket. It looks simple, but again, this is something no other big on the Mavericks roster does consistently.

It’s a refreshing sight to see a Mavericks big making these plays. Dallas has missed this dynamic on the roster for most of the season and Powell finally looks to be coming around. The Lakers doubled Luka Doncic shamelessly all night and without Kristaps Porzingis, a lot of the Mavericks role players in the first half had a deer in the headlights look with the ball in their hands. Thankfully in the second half things got better and that was mostly due to Powell being assertive with his dives to the basket and finally making the Lakers pay for doubling Doncic.

Dallas hasn’t had a reliable roller all season and whenever the Mavericks offense looks gummed up, it’s easy to notice. Despite his slow start, Powell is now scoring 1.24 points per possession as the roll-man in the pick and roll, good for 70 percentile in the league and the best marks for any of the Mavericks big men in roll man possessions. Again, that’s for the season, accounting for Powell’s rough start as he was still recovering. If you really want to know how much Powell has regained his form, consider this: remember the part about Powell starting the season shooting in the low 60s in the restricted area? For the season he’s now at 70 percent. Post All-Star break? 81 percent. In the month of April? Powell is shooting a staggering 85.4 percent in the restricted area.

Dare I say it, but Dwight Powell is looking like he’s back to his good self again and it’s coming at the perfect time for the Mavericks.

Dallas Mavericks

Sun, 25 Apr 2021 04:00:00 -0700

What should have been the Maverick's two biggest challenges in a surprisingly breezy sprint to the finish of the regular season turned out to be something

By Tim Cowlishaw

9:59 AM on Apr 25, 2021 CDT

What should have been the Maverick’s two biggest challenges in a surprisingly breezy sprint to the finish of the regular season turned out to be something less. Dallas got two enormous breaks in playing the defending champions, factors that aided in the Mavericks’ sweep of the Lakers at the American Airlines Center.

LeBron James didn’t play and Anthony Davis did.

The first was a given in that James may not return from his ankle injury until right around playoff time. As for the second, these were Davis’ first games back after missing 30 games with lower leg injuries and it showed. He was so far removed from the flow of the LA offense — playing for the first time with center Andre Drummond had to feel strange — that he made fewer than 25% of his shots (7-for-29) over 48 minutes and was a minus-30 in the two games.

It’s remarkable that LA Coach Frank Vogel, in talking about the return of a player who competed with LeBron for best player in last year’s playoffs, said, “Hopefully it doesn’t cost us too many games.”

It’s worth nothing the Lakers were also missing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, whose 29 points Thursday night made that a closer game than Saturday’s 108-93 final.

Dallas was without Kristaps Porzingis and Josh Richardson, but the Mavericks have grown accustomed to playing without Porzingis for much of the last two years.

As the Mavericks solidified their hold on the important sixth seed that Portland has surrendered and inched closer to the 5 spot the Lakers are close to relinquishing, this was a reminder that all NBA predictions should be placed on hold until the playoffs begin. While there are plenty of superstars with genuine injuries that have shoved them to the sidelines, the mindset of every team appears to be to proceed with extraordinary caution.

While making it difficult to forecast winners, it has placed a more significant strain on fans who pay money or invest time in hopes of seeing the stars perform.

It was during a Milwaukee blowout of Philadelphia (sitting Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons) Saturday afternoon that the NBA’s forever analyst, Hubie Brown, encapsulated what we are watching in 2021.

“The key is with the virus, with the injuries, with the travel, we have no idea from game to game who’s going to be available with these teams feeling the pressure who are 1-through-10,” Brown said.

Twenty teams headed to the postseason and all trying to get their ducks in a row for mid-May. Meanwhile, the jigsaw’s falling into place for the Mavericks who have played almost all of their most difficult games (that doesn’t mean they don’t occasionally find a way to lose to Houston or Oklahoma City).

Dallas has a great chance of taking the No .5 spot away from LA and a long shot at catching Denver for the four. The Mavericks have to gain five games on the Nuggets, meaning something like a 10-3 finish while Denver goes 5-8. But, even at the 5 seed and starting the postseason on the road, playing Denver feels like the best option when the other choices are Utah, Phoenix and the LA Clippers.

Don’t rule out that run for the 4 seed as Denver, already without Jamal Murray, lost Will Barton for extended time with a hamstring injury late Friday. It’s incredible really that with 13 games to go, the Mavericks have eight against teams that would not qualify today for one of the top 10 spots in the East or West. Two more games are against current 10 seeds and another pair are against a 7 and 8.

Brooklyn is the only team left on the schedule that wouldn’t need a play-in game to make the first round, and the Nets epitomize the head-shaking “who’s playing” game of 2021. Even with the best record in the East, Brooklyn has played seven games all year with their big three of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving, and that isn’t happening again anytime soon.

Obviously, the Mavs have a Porzingis issue in terms of keeping him healthy but, at this point, he barely even registers as a name on the league’s injured list. While they didn’t have LeBron, the Lakers had at least some of the players that make LA one of the tougher teams to attack, and Luka Doncic and Dwight Powell just shredded that defense with the pick and roll.

There are plenty of teams Dallas should do the same against, starting with Sacramento and no De’Aaron Fox Monday night. He is out due to the virus protocols, the same situation that kept the Mavericks from emerging as a team the first third of the season.

Dallas survived that and is thriving now.

Complaints about the play-in format are a thing of the distant past (nearly two weeks old). It seems that format is part of the reason so many teams are tiptoeing through this regular season, resting players and readying themselves for an elongated postseason.

The view from the 6 seed with an eye on the 5 (and maybe the 4) is all the Mavericks can ask for.

Find more Mavericks coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

Tim Cowlishaw

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