Don’t look now, but the Dallas Mavericks are on a four game winning streak and could possibly be on front end of an even big roll.
When Luka Doncic went out with COVID last month, the Mavs finished December with a 2-3 record. The three losses included a seven point loss, four point loss and a one point loss. But once their All-star cleared COVID protocols, Dallas has gone on a little winning streak.
Some may be inclined to credit the return of Doncic for the success, but is hasn’t been his presence that has caused the team to hit the gas pedal. While the Slovenian was out, the Mavericks were building a brand of their own.
During the final two games of December, Dallas held the Sacramento Kings to two under 100. To start the New Year, that same trend continued. As a group, they kept the Oklahoma City Thunder to a mere 86 points.
Even with Doncic back, their defense has not missed a beat. Against the Denver Nuggets two nights ago, they held Nikola Jokic’s team to 89 points, while also keeping the top-seeded Warriors to a low 82. The last time Golden State scored below 85 points? Well it was Wednesday’s game against Dallas.
What has changed for the Dallas Mavericks defense?
Let’s start off with the Warrior’s game. Against Steph Curry and company, the Mavericks held them to 17 percent shooting from beyond the arc and forced an aggressive 17 turnovers.
But wait there’s more!
Against Denver Dallas forced 26 turnovers while also combining for five blocks and 12 steals.
Individual players are finally hitting their stride too.
One player leading the defensive is small-forward Dorian Finney-Smith. For the season, Finney-Smith has tallied 47 steals, and averaged around one or more turnovers per game.
It is not just current players either.
10-day contract players like Marquees Chriss are also stepping up. Against the Thunder Sunday he snagged seven rebounds in just 14 minutes. His aggressive presence down low is something Dallas has been lacking in for quite some time and one can only hope he finds a valuable home here.
As a squad, the Mavs is tied at 10 in terms of defensive efficiency as a team.
Some key highlights include a107.3 defensive rating, while also averaging seven steals a game and four blocks.
Compare the numbers to last season and as a whole not much has changed, but the mentality overall has really picked up.
Let’s not forget that their are other key factors in the team’s recent success. Some of that includes the improved shooting of Reggie Bullock, the offensive play of Jalen Brunson and the improved movement down low from Dwight Powell.
Whatever Coach Jason Kidd is doing lets hope this continues, as a defensive basketball team has the potential to go a long way in the playoffs.