The Mavericks' weird bubble advantages

Great away from home with a hyper-potent offense, Dallas might have an opportunity to speed up its transition to becoming a contender.

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Luka Doncic blew the doors off the NBA as a rookie, justifying every bit of the hype after coming off immense success as a European teenager at the highest levels of Old World basketball. And then, after that, he got fit and rescued the Dallas Mavericks from mediocrity, leading one of the most statistically potent offenses ever this season.

He will likely make first team All-NBA this season, barring some hijinks in which voters put LeBron James at guard instead of forward. He should finish top five in MVP voting. He’s 21 years old. If Giannis is Now, Luka is Next.

And the Mavericks really have a shot at having an impact in the bubble.

Dallas is sitting at No. 7 in the standings, having played three more games than the Thunder and Rockets. OKC and Houston are 40-24, Dallas is 40-27. So climbing a spot or two will be tough unless the Mavericks get and stay hot. The thing is they could absolutely get and stay hot in the bubble. While we don’t know how the bubble will affect our usual home-road differentials, Dallas was really good on the road this season, second best in the West behind the Lakers. If the bubble plays more like an extended road trip, that benefits Dallas.

To me, the Mavericks’ potent offense is a difference-maker assuming that after a long layoff defenses will be stronger earlier. We often see this leaguewide at the beginning of new seasons: offensive efficiency rises over the course of the season as teams get into their offensive flow, settle on rotations and find the paths of least resistance. Given the long layoff, this bubble situation is akin to the start of a new season. We should expect lower scoring efficiency numbers leaguewide unless the lack of day-to-day travel and fans really has an impact (which it very well could). But if this is similar to the start of a new season, the Mavericks’ immense offensive excellence could help overcome early season growing pains. By brute force Luka, Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. could score at a high level.

The loss of Dwight Powell looms quite large, but Rick Carlisle has always made smart adaptions when the rotation requires it. The Mavericks still might be a year or two away from full-on contender status, but the rules have been thrown out for this bubble experiment. Having a dope offense and knowing it could be a real difference-maker and speed up Dallas’ timeline.

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Re: Taylor Swift’s New Album Folklore

Here’s my review of Folklore as a meme.

What a turn. As anyone who remembers my Taylor Swift songs bracket will know, Red is my favorite T.S. album. I need to sit with this one for a while longer before I can concretely rate it in the oeuvre, but after a few late night/early morning listens I enjoy it a great deal. I enjoy The National (Boxer is one of my top five most played albums of the 2000s), and Aaron Dessner brought a lot of that energy here. I like down-tempo music with piano and vibey synth and maybe some orchestration and occasionally a guitar (is there a guitar on this album?). This album flows really clean and smooth with a couple of moments that snatch your attention. Like “Exile.” I like Bon Iver fine, but holy smokes, “Exile” is a triumph.

I’m very much looking forward to listening to this album with a cup of tea on a chilly November afternoon.

WNBA Schedule

The WNBA “regular” season begins Saturday! Here’s the schedule for the weekend. All times Eastern.

Saturday

Storm vs. Liberty, 12 p.m., ESPN
Sparks vs. Mercury, 3 p.m., ABC
Fever vs. Mystics, 5 p.m., CBS SN

Sunday

Sun vs. Lynx, 12 p.m., ESPN
Sky vs. Aces, 3 p.m., ABC
Wings vs. Dream, 5 p.m., CBS SN

Sheesh

Links

Matt Ellentuck on how each team could possibly win the bubble title. (Note: the Storm are definitely probably maybe going to win the bubble title. Or the Sky. Or the Mercury. Or the Sun.)

Natalie Weiner on the WNBA’s hopes to recapture its momentum in the New York Times.

Carmelo Anthony on this moment.

DeMar DeRozan in PEOPLE Magazine on the police violence he experienced as a kid growing up in Compton.

John Hollinger’s awards ballot in The Athletic. ($)

Paolo Uggetti on mental health in the bubble.

Nate Robinson will box YouTuber Jake Paul in an undercard for a charity Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones, Jr. fight. Get him, Nate.

Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce on meeting John Lewis.

Be excellent to each other.