Max Strus Had a Final Stretch for the Ages Last Night

It was capped off by a 59-foot buzzer beater

Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Cleveland Cavaliers congratulates teammate Max Strus #1 after Strus made a half-court buzzer-beater to defeat the Dallas Mavericks at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on February 27, 2024 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Mavericks 121-119. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
This guy had quite the night.
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, sure, but the only person who called Max Strus lucky last night was Max Strus. Anyone else watching the Cleveland Cavaliers’ stunning victory over the Dallas Mavericks would’ve said Strus was incredible. In fact, that’s the exact word the Mavericks’ all-world guard Luka Doncic used to describe what Strus did.

Across the final four minutes of the game in Cleveland, Strus, the home team’s shooting guard, hit five three-point shots. Per ESPN, he’s just the fourth player in the last quarter century of NBA play to do so. The first four of those 3s went through the net in just 67 seconds.

Strus saved his curtain call for the final second of the game.

The Mavs took a one-point lead with just 2.9 seconds left, and then Cavs forward Evan Mobley handled a quick inbound pass from Strus at the top of the key in their own defensive end. Strus rushed up the court and received a pass back from Mobley, and launched a Hail Mary from 59 feet.

Swoosh. Game.

As impressive as the shot was, ESPN reported that it was only the second-longest game-winning buzzer-beater since the NBA instituted the three-point shot in 1979. The longest was a 61-footer by Devonté Graham that lifted his New Orleans Pelicans over the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2021. Apparently, it was also only the second-longest game-winning buzzer-beater Strus has hit.

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“At my Division II school, I made a three-quarter-court shot to win the game,” he said, referencing Lewis University in Illinois. He added: “Donovan [Mitchell] was out of the game, so somebody else had to step up. I got lucky.”

Doncic saw it differently. “Incredible shot. That was just an incredible shot,” he said. “It was my fault. I should have pressed forward [on Strus]. I thought we played a good game, but that was rough, obviously.”

The Cavs’ win helped them stay in second place in the Eastern Conference standings, as they try and ward off a charge from the now Doc Rivers-led Milwaukee Bucks. It doesn’t look like either team will catch the Boston Celtics and enjoy home-court advantage throughout the NBA Playoffs, as the Celts have opened up a 7.5-game lead over the Cavs with 24 games left to play.

A victory for the Mavericks, on the other hand, would’ve pushed them into a tie for sixth in the West, which is significant because the seventh through 10th seeds must first get through the Play-In Tournament before the “real” NBA Playoffs begin. All of which is to say, the excitement coming out of Cleveland last night is just the beginning of what should be a compelling final few months of the NBA season.

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