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The Dallas Mavericks Are a Dark Horse

The Dallas Mavericks are a dark horse to win this year’s NBA championship. That’s not just because their mascot is a maverick, but the team is that good. They’ve had their ups-and-downs this season, spending a large portion of 2021 with a losing record, but have completely flipped the script in 2021. The greatness that is Luka Doncic, paired with mid-season roster improvements, makes this team a force to be reckoned with.

The Dallas Mavericks Are a Dark Horse

Projected Playoff Route

Dallas is the fourth seed in the Western Conference. At the moment, this would mean that they would play the Denver Nuggets in the first round. The Mavericks, however, own the tiebreaker versus the third-seed Golden State Warriors, meaning Dallas can certainly overtake them in the final days of the regular season.

If Dallas maintains the fourth seed, they’ll be the favorite versus Denver. Nikola Jokic is fantastic by all means, but injuries are keeping the Nuggets away from their true potential. The supporting cast has played admirably in wake of everything, but the healthy Mavericks look to be better. A win versus Denver, however, likely sees the Mavericks take on the Phoenix Suns in the second round. It’s difficult to bet against Doncic, but the Suns have shown little weakness.

The Mavericks’ best bet is to fight for the third seed in the West. This will likely pit them versus the Utah Jazz in the first round, a team that is no stranger to playoff failures. If that were the case, and Dallas wins, then the Mavericks will take on the Memphis Grizzlies in the second round. As spectacular as Memphis has been this season, the Mavericks won the season’s series three games to one. A playoff battle between Doncic and Ja Morant would be one for the ages, however.

A Very Balanced Roster

Everything Dallas does flows through Doncic. That isn’t going to change. In the past, however, this meant major struggles when Doncic was off the floor. Enter Spencer Dinwiddie. The trade for Dinwiddie reinvigorated the Mavericks. Now they have a reliable offense in the second unit, but Dinwiddie also plays vital clutch minutes with the starters. He’s been nothing short of spectacular since his arrival.

Jalen Brunson is another major offensive weapon. He’s in the midst of a career year, averaging about 16 points and five assists per game. Brunson creates his own shots, can drain mid-range jumpers all day and has the post moves of a savvy big man. Sure, he’s 6’1″, but he certainly doesn’t play like it.

Other players such as Dorian Finney-SmithReggie BullockDwight PowellMaxi KleberJosh Green, and Davis Bertans round out the rotation.

Finney-Smith is the heart and soul of the team. He can shoot with the best of them and bring in elite defense. When Bullock is on, he does much of the same.

Powell has greatly improved since January, finally looking like a true starting center. His chemistry with Doncic is off the charts as well. Finally Kleber and Green can come in with special three-and-d abilities. Bertans arrived to Dallas alongside Dinwiddie but hasn’t really found his stride. If he does, he changes the dynamics and stretches the floor.

There have been few updates on a potential Tim Hardaway Jr return. He averaged 14 points per game before his injury.

The Doncic Stardom

Doncic has already shown an ability to play his best basketball in the playoffs. The Mavericks’ last two playoff series both came versus the healthy Los Angeles Clippers. Although Dallas fell short in both, it was because of a lack of offense outside of Doncic. He was constantly guarded by elite defenders such as Kawhi LeonardPaul George, and Patrick Beverley, but routinely dropped 30+ points.

This season Doncic is averaging roughly 28 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists per game. He’s been showing no signs of backing down lately and a knack for targeting an opposing team’s best defender. He has no fear and an elite offensive game, paired with much-improved defense.

Dallas, lead by Doncic and head coach Jason Kidd’s great schemes and defense, is truly looking like a dark horse for this season’s NBA championship.

Main Image: Embed from Getty Images


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