Extra Pass: Mavs hope to figure things out vs. Nuggets

Published February 15, 2023, 2:50 PMPolo Bustamante

Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have yet to notch a victory together since they acquired the latter from the Brooklyn Nets.

What's up with the Dallas Mavericks?

The Kyrie Irving era has gotten off to a weird start in Dallas.

Irving has played in four games after being traded to the Mavericks. The team has gone 2-2 in those four games. Not bad right? Well, here’s where things get weird.

Irving made an immediate impact in his first two games. He led the Mavs to wins against the LA Clippers and Sacramento Kings. In those two games, he averaged 24.5 points and 7.5 assists. With Luka Doncic out due to a heel injury, Irving stepped into the primary playmaker role and made things happen for his team.

Doncic returned after those two wins and the Mavericks could finally fully showcase their new backcourt. In the two games that Irving has played with Doncic, he’s been even better. He scored 28 points and dished out seven assists in their back-to-back against the Kings. He topped that performance with a 36-point showing against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The problem is that the two games that Doncic and Irving have played together both resulted in losses. Weird right? Well, it’s only natural that things are still weird in Dallas. They’re incorporating one of the most ball-dominant players in the league and playing him alongside another ball-dominant player. Doncic and Irving are still finding their rhythm, as is the rest of the team with their new stars.

Irving and Doncic will get another shot at getting their first win together against the Denver Nuggets. That would be a major statement if the two manage to get a big win over the leaders of the West.

What’s up with the Denver Nuggets?

For the most part, the Nuggets stayed put at the trade deadline. Why should they make a move? They’re the best team in their conference with a full five-game lead over the second-place team. 

They did pull off some shrewd moves to improve their team. The first move was to get Nikola Jokic some help. They got him a terrific backup in Thomas Byrant, who was unhappy about his role with the LA Lakers. He was a great energy guy in LA, and in his first two games for Denver, he’s brought just that. Against the Miami Heat, he scored 10 points in just 14 minutes off the bench, helping his new team secure a win.

The other move was addition by subtraction. Bones Hyland was becoming an increasing distraction for the team with all his antics and internal feuds. For a team with championship aspirations, off-court issues can sometimes outweigh the on-court production. Hyland was shipped to the Clippers for draft picks. Not only does that remove the burden of dealing with his drama, but it frees up playing time for young players, like Christian Braun, to showcase their skills.

The Nuggets are currently on a two-game winning streak. A win against the Mavericks will not only extend their winning streak but also give them more separation against the rest of the field in the West.

Storyline to watch out for

In their last game against the Timberwolves, both Doncic and Irving had a chance to send the game into overtime. But both of them got gun-shy, taking turns trying to get a shot off rather than making a legitimate play to tie the game.

That’s part of the growing pains of the Mavericks now. Irving and Doncic are both incredible shotmakers who can get any bucket they want. Unfortunately, they’re still learning to create for one another. That can sometimes result in a “my turn, your turn” situation which leads to unproductive basketball.

If the game once again goes down the wire, what kind of endgame play will the Mavs set up? Who takes the final shot? That’s a fun little mini-game within this game.


Right now, the Nuggets are just humming along. Even with Murray out with an injury, they know how to win because they won a lot of games with just Jokic last season. The star power of the Mavericks can’t be denied. But for this game, at this time, continuity will win. That’s why the Nuggets will drop the Irving-Doncic duo to 0-3.

Where to watch

Watch these two Western Conference playoff contenders duke it out live at 10:00 AM on NBA TV Philippines, via Cignal TV or Smart LiveSteam, or NBA League Pass.