No Luka Doncic, no worries for the Dallas Mavericks.
Well, that might be an exaggeration, but it's fair to say the response without their MVP candidate has been nothing short of spectacular.
It's been three games since Doncic went down with an ankle sprain against Miami. In that stretch, the Mavericks have snapped the Milwaukee Bucks 18-game winning streak, lost a close one to the Boston Celtics and now blown out the Philadelphia 76ers at home.
Not bad at all.
Porzingis finding his groove
Without a doubt, the most pleasing aspect of the three-game stretch without Doncic has been Porzingis taking the lead role on both ends of the floor with confidence.
Porzingis is avergaing 23.6 points and 14.3 rebounds over the past three games, showing flashes of his athletic ability inside while also nailing 38 percent of his tries from the outside.
Blocks. Dunks. 3s.- Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) December 21, 2019
Find you a big man who can do all three. 🦄@kporzee | #MFFL pic.twitter.com/ZVlmHnSimL
In this one, Porzingis was matched up with Joel Embiid, and while the Sixers big man registered 33 points and 17 rebounds, Porzingis had 22 points and 18 rebounds of his own while also swatting three shots.
With Doncic absent, the 7-foot-3 Latvian has been forced to aggressively look for his own offence and it's paying dividends.
While you would never want to lose a player of Doncic' calibre for any stretch, perhaps this is the silver lining from an at first scary incident for Dallas fans.
Streaky Hardaway finds the range
Tim Hardaway can just as easily catch fire as he can go completely missing.
Against Philadelphia, it was the former, as the sixth-year guard lit up the Sixers for 27 points on 7-for-11 from beyond the arc.
Tim Hardaway Jr. heats up for 19 PTS on 7-8 shooting (5-5 3PM) in the 1st quarter!@dallasmavs 35@sixers 28- NBA (@NBA) December 21, 2019
📺: ESPN pic.twitter.com/P1WTNy8oLb
Five of those made triples came in a scintillating first period that set the game up for Dallas and allowed them to keep touch with the home team who shot out to a quick 16-9 lead. 19 points from Hardaway helped the Mavericks finish on 26-12 run, completely swinging the momentum of the game.
The outing was the seventh game of 20 plus points for Hardaway, while he has also registered ten games with single-digit scoring.
The Tim Hardaway Jr. experience is a roller coaster ride, but today, it was a fun one for Rick Carlisle and the Mavericks.
The Philadelphia offence continues to struggle
The Sixers are entering a critical period in their season.
Sitting in the fifth seed in the East, Philadelphia holds a 20-10 record and have now lost three in a row. Sure, some growing pains were expected in this curious bunch of talent they assembled in the offseason but even this has to make the front office a little anxious.
Heading into tonight, the Sixers possessed the league's 14th ranked offence and the sixth ranked defence. Certainly not numbers that suggest a title contender.
The Sixers are averaging 25.1 points in the 4th quarter, the 3rd worst mark in the league.- StatMuse (@statmuse) December 21, 2019
They also have the 2nd most turnovers in the 4Q this season. pic.twitter.com/zADYMzgbvi
Outside of Embiid, the Sixers are struggling to find a consistent source of offence, and this is only amplified in the fourth quarter when opposition teams close down the paint.
Ben Simmons is an All-Star, but his numbers are down across the board from last season, Tobias Harris is shooting just 31 percent from three and Al Horford remains a reluctant shooter.
Brett Brown: "I feel like our competitive spirit has taken a dent because of our inability to score."- Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) December 21, 2019
The lack of shooting and spacing continues to be a major problem and it will be the number one concern for Brett Brown moving forward.
Can the Sixers figure it out with this current group, or is a trade in their future?
Either way, the Philadelphia fans that booed their team on multiple occasions through the night will be hoping the answer is clear sooner rather than later.