The Dallas Mavericks haven’t quite lived up to all the expectations they carried into this season. With that being said, they’re right in the thick of things in the Western Conference playoff race. Improvements can be made here and there, but one eye-opening difference is the team’s defense. They struggled with this in the past, although typically having an elite offense, and head coach Jason Kidd is a major factor.
The Dallas Mavericks are Bought into Defense
Outside of defense, the Mavericks have struggled in some other departments which has led to their good, but not outstanding, record.
Battling COVID-19 hasn’t been easy, but it’s a problem virtually every team has faced. Outside of COVID-19 absences, Dallas has had injuries. Stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis have both missed plenty of time. They’ve rarely shared the court together. Injuries have clearly affected Doncic, as his play is slightly down. He’s still averaging roughly 25 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists per game. It says a lot that those stats indicate a “down year” for him, but the truth is that Dallas goes as far as Doncic takes them.
With the injuries and the inconsistency of the stars, the Mavericks’ offense hasn’t been as elite as years prior. Offense was the name of the game for the new-era Mavericks, but the defense is now taking its hold.
Near Elite Defense
Kidd was brought in with mixed reviews. His coaching tenure in Dallas is still young, but it’s clear that the players are bought into his defensive scheme.
First off, the Mavericks have the seventh-best defensive rating in the league. This places them behind the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, LA Clippers, and Boston Celtics. All of those teams have elite defensive pieces. Dallas, on the other hand, doesn’t have that big name All-Defensive type of player, but are playing hard and well as a unit.
Dallas has also had a few big match-ups recently in their ongoing six-game win streak. These tougher match-ups have come versus the Denver Nuggets, Golden State, and the Chicago Bulls. Dallas held all three opponents to under 100 points. Denver put up 89, Golden State put up 82, and Chicago put up 99. The Mavericks of the past would have to score 115+ points to defeat one of these opponents, but now they can win with defense.
Many have contributed to this. Dorian Finney-Smith and Maxi Kleber continue their roles as two of the Mavericks’ main defenders. Reggie Bullock was an amazing defender with the New York Knicks, and his play of late has resembled that. Dwight Powell and Jalen Brunson have also really stepped up on that end.
Two lesser-known Mavericks who are contributing greatly to the defense include Josh Green and Marquese Chriss. Green is finally getting playing time this season and showing what he’s capable of. Chriss was brought in due to losing players to COVID-19 protocols, yet he’s now on his third 10-day contract. He’s playing his way into a contract for the rest of the season, one that will surely be well deserved.
Main Image: Embed from Getty Images