The Dallas Mavericks began the season with lofty goals and expectations.
Luka Doncic started out of the gates with Vegas’ best odds to win MVP, exciting new pieces had been acquired through trades and Kristaps Porzingis had just played the best ball of his career in the bubble the season prior.
After a six-game losing streak, it seemed as if the world MFFL’s once knew had come crashing down upon them.
The historical offense last season seemed to have cratered alongside the non-existent outside shooting while Luka had to do all of the heavy lifting, in turn visibly souring his attitude on the court.
But boy, can winning change a lot of things, especially attitude.
Dallas’ dynamic duo feeling the love in February
With the six straight losses in the rear-view mirror, the Mavs rattled off five wins within the next six games to bring their record to 13-14, back within one of sitting at .500.
In the month of February, Porzingis has been shredding nets from three, shooting 44.9%, compared to 28.6% in January, with a season-high eight makes in a win over the New Orleans Pelicans Friday.
His scoring average is up from 18.6 to 23.4 points per game and has bumped up both his free throw and field goal percentages back into the realm fans grew accustomed to seeing.
It’s almost unimaginable for Luka to produce a better month statistically than what he put forth in January, averaging a 28/10/10 triple-double line with a block and a steal, all while maintaining a top-5 usual percentage in the league.
But stats aren’t everything, as his assists and rebounds have slightly declined, but his outside shooting touch is up dramatically and he’s relying on his teammates more than ever before.
Now with the sidekicks doing most of the damage in the early stages of the game, Luka is able to pick his spots and conserve his energy to act as the late-game closer he’s destined to be.
Exhibit A: Friday night Luka hit a season high 62% from behind the arc (5-8) and exploded in the second second-half behind a career-high 46 points over the Pelicans.
Can the Mavs keep their winning streak alive?
While the Mavs are riding high on a four-game winning streak with a primetime win over New Orleans, the Portland Trailblazers have been humming along just as well, winning six out of their last eight games.
Gary Trent Jr. has been showing up more and more as the season goes on, averaging 19.6 points on 47.5% shooting from deep as the fill-in starter for CJ McCollum alongside Damian Lillard who’s liable to explode at any moment.
If Dallas can limit Enes Kanter and Robert Covington from eating rebounds and ending possessions, as well as hit the snooze button on Lillard when the Dame Time alarm rings, they have much more size on the perimeter and the ability to cause lots of mismatches against Portland.
Playoff seeding chaos
The Phoenix Suns currently sit at the fourth seed in the Western Conference with a record of 15-10, while the 13th seeded Houston Rockets own a 11-14 record, only a four-game difference in the standings.
While losing six straight was never the plan for head coach Rick Carlisle and the Mavs, they could be doing much worse than sitting at ninth with a record of 13-14 and now finally healthy and fully loaded.
Only 1.5 games behind the eight seed Warriors and three games back from the Suns at the fourth seed, the Mavericks are still very much in the hunt for solid playoff positioning with a hard push now against teams in their way in the standings.
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