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Nets move on to Dallas to meet Mavericks ... and Luka Doncic

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NBA: Dallas Mavericks-Media Day Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

D’Angelo Russell has become the player the Nets and Sean Marks hoped he would be when they traded for him in June 2017. DLo decided in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s game that it was DLo time. Russell had a team-high 20 points, nine rebounds and six assists, his third straight 20 point game, the first time he’s done that since he played for the Lakers.

Now, it’s on to Dallas and an opportunity to win a back-to-back for the first time this season. They’ve lost four already.

The Mavericks had won four straight prior to losing to the resurgent Grizzlies on Monday night and seem to be getting better after a rough start. Dallas is in something of a transitional period, trying to figure out what to do with their young, old, and middle aged talent while moving from the Dirk Era into the Luka Era. One Euro to another. It’s poetic. Let’s get into it.

Where To Follow The Game

YES and WFAN have this one at 8:30 p.m. ET.


Caris Levert (foot) and Treveon Graham (hamstring) are still out. No indication when either will be back.

Dwight Powell (knee), J.J. Barea (adductor), and Wesley Matthews (hamstring) all missed the last Mavericks game against the Grizzlies. Dirk Nowitzki has also been out with a foot injury and has no real timetable for a return.

The Game

Heading into the draft, Luka Doncic was the one prospect I deemed worth salivating over. His feel for the game, size, skill set, and overall demeanor just screamed superstar. He has not disappointed, putting up 19.2 ppg, 6.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 45% from the field and 37% from three. Those are numbers that would be impressive for a 10-year vet, let alone a rookie.

The Mavericks are 7-9, hanging around near .500 like a lot of teams in the league right now despite having a roster that might not be able to sustain that record for much longer, particularly with their injury issues.

The Nets are going to have to find a way to neutralize Luka’s output. He’s the crux of the offense ... you know, the nexus of all Mavericks’ scoring. He’s also 19. If Kenny sits down and game plans it a little bit, he might be able to frustrate the kid.

DeMarre Carroll and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, bodywise, seem like the best fits to give him some trouble (although the first time people notice about Doncic is his linebacker-like size) . I’m not too scared of Harrison Barnes or Dennis Smith or Wesley Matthews (if healthy) taking advantage of extra defensive attention paid to the Slovenian. I am, however, kind of scared of DeAndre Jordan because he’s averaging 13.6 rebounds and guys like him tend to eat the Nets for snacks.

This is absolutely a winnable game for the Nets. Imagine a scenario in which Joe Harris and Allen Crabbe are both shooting well at the same time to space the floor for D’Angelo Russell and Jarrett Allen to cook. Allen Crabbe should be an asset to this team. The Nets roster construction makes sense save for the lack of a true, impact stretch 4, and if everyone can click at the right time this team can win these types of games without having to scrap for every bucket. Even without Caris Levert.

Also, Kenny Atkinson needs a real stretch 4 so badly. Dudley plays hard and is a leader and all that, but man, imagine this system with a guy just a little bit better like Al-Farouq Aminu. (You know Marks loves his Trailblazers. You know his name is on a whiteboard somewhere in the depths or heights of HHS Training Center).

Player To Watch

Harrison Barnes hasn’t been playing great this season, and he’s had a real fall from grace ever since his disastrous finals performance in 2016 and the ensuing gigantic contract he could never have lived up to in full. His first two seasons in Dallas were by no means bad, but his numbers are down across the board this year so far. History tells us he’s going to snap out of it and return those averages and percentages back to where they should be, but let’s hope he doesn’t do it against the Nets.

From The Vault

I swear former Net Devin Harris is still in the league and somehow also still a Maverick. The dude is going to play 15 minutes off the bench for Rick Carlisle until Dallas is swallowed up by the sun.


For a different perspective, head on over to Mavs Moneyball, our Mavericks sister site on SB Nation.