With several high profile teams holding much of the league’s attention, another is quietly sneaking up on them. The Dallas Mavericks are now at seventh in the Western Conference standings, with bigger plans ahead.
A winning pair
The Mavs are keyed by MVP candidate Luka Doncic. A silk shooting 6’7 combo guard with an uncanny ability to score. Plus impact the game in other ways. The Slovenian star has teamed with 7’3 Latvian sensation Kristaps Porzingis to form a true dynamite duo.
Porzingis leads Dallas in rebounding this season with almost nine boards a game. He also ranks second in scoring at over 20 points per contest. Yet he’s been plagued by injuries, the latest one being a sprained right wrist.
In addition, swingman Josh Richardson, off guard Tim Hardaway Jr. and point Jalen Brunson all chip in to help spur Dallas’ success. A closer look reveals a couple of major elements that spark the squad.
First head coach Rick Carlisle and his staff. Carlisle is widely considered among the association’s best. His status sealed after leading Big D to their lone world title ten years ago.
Currently they eschew a conventional offensive system. Coach Carlisle gives players the freedom to improvise. While adding a few wrinkles into the mix. The idea is a free flowing type of approach makes the Mavs’ offense unpredictable, thus more difficult to defend.
As a result they rank in the NBA’s upper echelon on offense. This following a landmark 2020 campaign when Dallas reportedly set a league record as the most efficient offense in NBA history. Quite a mark showing just how strong they can be.
Next on the defensive side, they are doing nearly as well. Since mid-February the defense has leaped to another level. A key factor in the Mavs’ rise to legitimate playoff prospect no doubt. Presently they rate above average with potential to improve in that realm.
New expanded format of playoffs
Before Wednesday night’s loss at Houston, the club had won five in a row. They remain two games behind the sixth seed Portland Trail Blazers. This race eventually means the difference between securing a playoff spot or having to play their way in.
As a new Play-In Tournament begins this year. Instead of the top eight qualifying in each conference, six teams secure a postseason berth. Seventh and eighth join an expanded field including the ninth and tenth finishers in both East and West to vie for those remaining spots.
Does Dallas have the right stuff?
The competition is tough. Things won’t get any easier as they are back in action Thursday night vs. the mighty Milwaukee Bucks. The Mavs must get consistent production from supporting cast members. Some are still sidelined by injuries. A harsh reality in this league.
Many clubs are loaded with talent. Do the Mavericks wield enough firepower to win?