After Saturday afternoon’s 130-84 demolition of the short-handed New Orleans Pelicans, the Mavericks have improved their record to an impressive 16-6. The team is sitting comfortably in the upper half of the Western Conference playoff standings and seems to only be getting better by the game. Perhaps the most impressive part of their winning ways of late, taking 10 of their last 11 games, has been the emphasis with which they’re doing it.
During this stretch, Dallas has managed to win by 14+ points six times. Four of those wins have been by 20 points or more. Including Saturday, three of the wins have been by 30 points or more. All of this leads to the Mavericks having a point differential of +10.3, second to only the mighty Milwaukee Bucks (+13.6). Not surprisingly, this eleven game sample size started after the painful loss on November 14th to the lowly New York Knicks, who fired coach David Fizdale on Friday and have only won two other games besides those over the Mavs this season. It was Dallas’ second loss to the Knicks in less than a week. They definitely learned something from those two games. “It was pretty clear after that game we needed to shore up some various (things),” Rick Carlisle said before Saturday’s game.
While it may just seem like garbage time fun that allows bench players to pad their stats, the convincing and authoritative victories tell a deeper story about this young Mavericks team. They’re not messing around and it’s obvious that there are still plenty of areas for them to improve.
Today’s 130-84 win over New Orleans marks the 3rd game this season the #Mavericks have won by 40+, a new franchise record for most 40-point victories in a season.
At 16-6, this is the first time Dallas has improved to 10 games over .500 since the end of the 2014-15 season. pic.twitter.com/TpOnkaYdG8
— Mavs PR (@MavsPR) December 7, 2019
When asked about the maturity and focus of his young roster, Carlisle said those things aren’t at their peak level, but he certainly sees the growth. “That’s one of these exciting things about this group, that I think everybody realizes: there’s still a lot of room for getting better and tightening things up.”
The coach isn’t the only one who knows the team can improve, the players are well aware of it themselves. Kristaps Porzingis spoke to the ways the team can look to improve its defense that hasn’t quite been as sharp night in and night out like their offense has proven to be through 21 games.
“I think it’s just us holding each other accountable on the defensive end. Our offense is almost there every night. It’s the defense that we have to bring every night and I think we’re doing a better job of being consistent with it.”
The Mavs season can be divided into two 11 game stretches so far: The 6-5 start that concluded with the loss in New York (111.7 points allowed per game) and this 10-1 stretch since (104.9 points allowed per game). The improvement has seen Dallas begin to pair its #1 rated offense along with a defense that is certainly top 10 recently, but has moved up into the top half of the league’s season defensive ratings ranking this season (14th before allowing 84 points on 36% overall shooting from the Pelicans on Saturday).
Dallas has certainly taken advantage of a relatively “easy” schedule early on this season (23rd ranked SOS as of Saturday), but they’re defeating good teams like the Lakers, Rockets and Nuggets on a regular basis and then absolutely destroying the teams they’re supposed to as of late.
We’re still just a quarter of the way through the season, but it’s getting really hard to not get excited about what this team can really do.
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