Breakfast Special: When We Bring to the World Disorder

The Dallas Mavericks would make the playoffs if the season ended today.

And while you may be asking yourself how a team so wretched last year could be so good this year, consider one simple stat.

Per point differential, the Mavs, who went 24-58 last season, played more like a 33-win team.

Then they added Luka Doncic, who’s positioned himself as a frontrunner for Rookie of the Year.

They are now on pace to go 45-37 by record and 47-35 by point differential.

So Doncic adding 12 wins in theory and 23 in practice as a combination of statistical regression and an improving young core pushes the team forward?

The playoffs are an entirely plausible outcome.

Never mind that Harrison Barnes still sucks (a minus-0.1 VORP and just a 13.9 PER.) The biggest whiff in free agency from that insane summer of 2016 won’t be around forever. Dallas will only get better.

And oh by the way, they beat the now 8-seeded but once-West-leading Trail Blazers by a 111-102 score.

Doncic led the way with 21 points and nine rebounds, DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and 17 boards, all five starters notched double figures, and the Mavs made a fool out of Damian Lillard, who had 33 points, but needed a lot of help from the refs (11-of-12 on free throws) and still committed seven turnovers.

Lillard was 10-of-23 from the field and an atrocious 2-of-8 from deep.

In 2038, we’ll be celebrating 40 years of great Dallas basketball teams with a European white dude for a superstar. UN your big ideas, Mark Cuban.

Doncic is your man of the match:

Utah Trades Doghouses With San Antonio

As underachieving franchises go, the Utah Jazz, with their 12-13 record as they bounce off the 14 seed in the West but never quite get to respectable, have been among the most disappointing.

It didn’t help their point differential when they got humiliated twice by the Pacers, all the more embarrassing since Indiana was minus Victor Oladipo for those games.

But there’s nothing like a big win to snap a franchise back to the upright, locked, and hopeful position, and a 139-105 demolition of the please-retire-Pop Spurs?

Well, that will help. It’ll help a lot.

Rudy Gobert had 18 points on 5-of-7 shooting and a game-high plus-30, Donovan Mitchell was actually efficient for a change (20 points, 7-of-13), the Jazz had a Total Team Effort including 13 off the bench from new blood Kyle Korver, and the team shot an are-you-kidding-me 60.7 percent overall and 60.6 percent (20-of-33) from deep.

You want fancy analysis? OK. When you take shots, and those shots go in, you win basketball games.

That’s smart NBA talk, folks.

In fact, let’s give it up for Korver. He’s going to help that Jazz bench unit immensely.

Noladipo

The Pacers are 4-4 without No. 4, and as Chris Denari pointed out on last night’s broadcast, that’s more like 5-4 considering Victor Oladipo was only around for the first few minutes of the Hawks game.

The latest scalp they added to the collection was the Chicago Bulls, as Indiana pulled out a 96-90 victory that may not have been pretty, but when the defense gets the job done—Chicago shot just 39.4 percent from the field, turned the ball over 18 times, and attempted only five free throws to Indiana’s 24.

Myles Turner was fantastic, scoring 18 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and swatting five blocks, Darren Collison came up big with 23 points and some crucial free throws down the stretch (he was 8-of-8 overall at the line), Indiana shot 46.1 percent as a team, and despite some wild swings in this one—a 15-0 Indiana run was followed immediately by a 15-2 Chicago run over a stretch spanning the first and second quarters, and the Bulls had another run late where the Pacers went icy for a solid five or six minutes late in the third and early in the fourth—the better team prevailed.

Also, Pacers? Those City uniforms are garbage. Ugly as hell.

Turner’s your man of the match:

Lightning Round!

The Kings have moved from being the “easy team” that good teams beat on their way to the playoffs to being a team on their way to the playoffs that beats the “easy team”.

To wit, Sacramento’s 122-105 road win in Phoenix.

De’Aaron Fox had 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting, Buddy Hield led the starters with 20, and Sacramento got a weird Total Team Effort where five bench players notched double figures but only two starters did.

This was a fun romp, in which the Kings led 36-9 after the first quarter. They led by 32 after three, and all Phoenix’s 38-23 fourth quarter did was make the game look closer than it was.

Hield got man of the match in just 17 minutes:

And finally, a battle in Florida only served to show that the Miami Heat are not good.

The Orlando Magic rode a 30-12 third quarter to a 105-90 win on the road, as the Magic shot 50 percent from three (14-of-28) and held the Heat to just 2-of-5 from the line as a team.

Aaron Gordon‘s 20 points and 13 rebounds led the balanced attack for the now-7-seed Magic:

That Pacers feature, scheduled for yesterday, is running later this morning. Getting a fresh data point is always a good decision. Stay tuned for that, and thanks for reading!