Wes Matthews Out Tonight Vs. Bulls; Here's Why Mavs Need To Start Finney-Smith

Mike Fisher
November 12, 2018 - 1:45 pm

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

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DALLAS (105.3 The Fan) - As feared, wing Wesley Matthews (left hamstring strain) will not play tonight in the 4-8 Dallas Mavericks' game at the Chicago Bulls. He moved from "doubtful'' on Sunday to today, when he didn't even make the one-game trip to Chicago for the 7 p.m. tip.

It's been suggested that somehow the travel plans suggest that the injury is more serious than the Mavs wish to let on at this time. I'm not sure how that necessarily adds up, but there is a more immediate question:

What does Dallas do in his stead?

Through a dozen games, Matthews has often been the Mavs' top shot-taker. And he's averaging 16.8 points (along with 2.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists). But does Dallas need a replacement for him in the starting lineup to replicate the shot-taking? Or do the Mavs need a replacement who can serve as more of a do it all guy, with an emphasis on defense?

Enter Dorian Finney-Smith, our prediction for who gets the nod.

Mavs.com suggests, "We may see J.J. Barea and Devin Harris get more run in two-PG lineups.'' And based on their work off the bench in Dallas' weekend win over the Oklahoma City Thunder -- a stunner that marked Devin's first game back since the opener due to a hamstring problem and marked Barea taking on a huge scoring responsibility to help the Dallas bench swamp the Thunder's -- time for both of the vet guards will surely come.

After all, Matthews was averaging 33 minutes per game.

But our argument, as we've spelled it out before, is that Dorian Finney-Smith has earned the right to steal some of those minutes in the rotation even with a healthy Wes, whose hamstring tightened up late in the OKC game.

And maybe coach Rick Carlisle was trending things that way, anyway. In last Wednesday's loss at Utah, Matthews played 34 minutes and registered a plus-minus of -22. Meanwhile, the kid who generally plays behind him, Finney-Smith, played 19 minutes and didn't fill up the boxscore but he was a +0 in plus/minus.

Now jump to the shocking win over OKC, with Luka Doncic (22 points) doing Wonders against the Thunder, and ultimately, the Dallas bench outscoring OKC's 53-22. In that game, Matthews started but played 31 minutes to Finney-Smith's 25 -- with Finney-Smith the far more effective player.

One more reason we think DFS is a first-team fit tonight? As the Mavs try to register a third win in four tries (and go for the season sweep of the Bulls), they'll need to deal with the explosive Chicago standout Zach LaVine.

Dallas is on an 11-game road losing streak dating back to last season, and is 0-6 on the road. Chicago is 4-9 and vulnerable, and we think a Dallas starting quintet of Dennis Smith Jr., Harrison Barnes, Doncic, DeAndre Jordan (with big help from Maxi Kleber) and Finney-Smith might be the best way to attack that vulnerability.