Playing the Golden State Warriors on the second night of a back-to-back, the Dallas Mavericks left veterans Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams back in Texas to heal their respective ailments.
Head coach Rick Carlisle also held Wesley Matthews, Jose Juan Barea and Andrew Bogut out for rest. When asked before the game if everyone on his roster was healthy, the longtime NBA head coach said, “Relatively speaking, yes.”
The Mavs effectively punted Wednesday night’s game. They were playing a “team that’s very, very good. Extremely potent and getting better by the game,” to borrow Carlisle’s phrasing, and had won in Los Angeles the night before — which was two days after an overtime game.
Surrendering the night wasn’t a bad move despite the Dubs rolling to a 116-95 win. The Mavs leaned into the “scheduled loss” and didn’t expose themselves to greater defeats in the process.
“One of the reasons we kept those guys back is because of the four-day break and just felt this was an opportunity to clear their heads,” Carlisle said. “Let them really concentrate on getting their bodies fixed up.”
While it deprived the fans at Oracle Arena of a chance to watch Bogut, the center on the team’s best seasons in decades, it allowed for an extended glimpse into what the Curry family backyard games must’ve looked like as Stephen and Seth started opposite each other for the first time in an NBA game.
Seth, the younger brother, played effectively — even if he didn’t shoot at a high percentage — in his 35 minutes, logging 10 points with nine assists and five steals. Stephen won this round, though, scoring 24 points on 12 shots. He left the game shortly after halftime to tend to a tweaked ankle, just to return from the locker room and hit a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc.
After two weeks that ran high on emotions, including a blowout loss to open the season and a pair of blowout wins over potential playoff foes, it appears the Dubs have settled into the regular season. Gone should be the talk of slumps — Klay Thompson hit his first seven shots of the contest — and the dreaded “subplots” can be put to rest for a few days, at least.
One of the major departures from last year’s record-breaking regular season should be a willingness to pace themselves as the team toils through the long regular season. What Carlisle did pregame made the postgame outcome seem inevitable, but it makes you wonder how many other teams will employ a similar strategy this season when they roll into Oakland in an unwinnable situation?
The Warriors aren’t yet ready to make that move, playing tonight in Denver. But head coach Steve Kerr held Andre Iguodala out of the second half to “keep him fresh,” and he’d have no qualms about sitting the reigning back-to-back MVP if his ankle worsens over night. Additionally, if the Dubs had not played a lackadaisical third quarter, the starters would’ve been held out of the fourth quarter entirely.
What it all signals is a true start to the grind of a long regular season, meaning there’s no real reason to linger on individual results anymore and focus more on longer reaching trends. After all, the team had to shuffle out of the building quickly after the final buzzer.
They had a plane to catch.