It was only a matter of time, right?
The Mavericks came into this season with high expectations, not just from inside their building, but from the fans, media, and around the league as well.
10 games into the season, the Mavericks sit with a record of 6-4, which with every obstacle thrown their way so far, I’d say you should be pretty damn content with that result. Whether it was Kristaps Porzingis missing the first nine games of the season to gelling with new teammates to the obstacle of them all, fighting COVID; the Mavericks have faced it all.
Now, with Kristaps Porzingis back in the lineup, who scored 16 points in his season debut, and the five players who either tested positive for COVID or are quarantining due to contact tracing (Dorian Finney-Smith, Jalen Brunson, Josh Richardson, Maxi Kleber & Dwight Powell) are nearing their return, the Mavericks are set to be at full strength as soon as early next week for the first time this season.
With that said, a 6-4 record is nothing to shout from the roof tops about, but when you look at the numbers, you should be even more excited about this Mavericks start than you previously thought.
Let’s dive in.
First off, for all the weight shaming critics out there, Luka would like to have a word with you. And for what it’s worth, I’m not innocent here. It was clear he was out of shape and boy, did that shot look broken to begin the season but they’ve started to fall as of late and that’s all you can ask for.
But yes, he came into the season not in the best of game shape, and both Doncic and Carlisle admitted that, but Luka has quickly found his groove and looks to be on the MVP trajectory that we all predicted and hoped for this season. During this Mavericks four-game winning streak, Luka is averaging a modest 31.3 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 10.8 assists not to shade over his 37% from downtown, which started out this season looking quite bleak.
But it hasn’t been just the offense for Doncic, who is averaging 2.0 steals and 1.8 blocks during the four-game span. It’s clear that Luka’s attention and effort on the defensive end has increased coming into this season. “If you don’t have defense, you’re not going to achieve anything,” Luka said after the Mavericks’ victory on Wednesday.
And he’s right. As much as today’s NBA has become a race to 130 points and who can make the most three’s, at the end of the day, you have to be able to buckle down during crunch time and get a stop.
The Mavericks currently rank second defensive rating and second in opponents points per game with 104.4.
Second in the league.
Last season, Dallas gave up 112.1 points per game. Adding the likes of Josh Richardson and James Johnson have done exactly what Donnie Nelson, Rick Carlisle, and co. had planned this offseason along with the impressive start for Willie Cauley-Stein at the five. You know what you’re going to get on the offensive end with a Luka Doncic-led team, but when you surround him with shot makers who can also defend? That changes everything.
As Porzingis continues to play himself into game shape and see his minutes increase, as well as the five Mavericks out due to COVID return, Dallas is poised to see their trajectory up the Western Conference standings increase. And if this defense continues to get stops on a consistent basis teamed with their MVP frontrunner, the league should be on full notice on this Dallas Mavericks squad.
The Mavericks will look to win their fifth straight game tonight against back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks on ESPN.
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