After starting the season at a disappointing 2-7, the Mavericks have done a complete turnaround and have gone 8-2 in the last 10 games. The starters are slowly beginning to mesh as their chemistry builds. The bench has been phenomenal, and that . is probably an understatement. So now that all the pieces of the puzzle seem like they are piecing together, could it be that the Mavs are a legitimate playoff team?
Should Mavericks fans be humble and not get too excited with the recent winning ways of the Mavericks? Yes. Are we going to be? NO! THE MAVS ARE BACK BABY!!!! Well, are they? It sure seems like it. Let’s take a look at some of the teams the Mavericks have beaten in this 10 game stretch: Thunder, Celtics, Warriors and the Rockets. Now there are many people out there that will say that these wins should be taken as a grain of since those teams have been struggling lately and plagues with injuries. However, let’s give the Mavericks credit, where credit is due. The Mavericks have a top ten defensive rating (107.3) and fourth in protecting the paint by holding opponents to 43.9 points. The Mavericks are finally playing defense and their competitive spirit is being sparked more and more after every game. That 50-point blowout that the Mavericks handed to the Jazz ever so brutally does inflate those number a little but maybe not? It seems as if that blowout is what really sparked the Mavs to have this huge surge of confidence.
Offensively we can not leave the Mavericks behind. The Mavs are currently ranked 10th in the league in offensive rating (109.6) and are just about six points behind the best offensive rating in the league (Bucks/ 115.5). Having a Rookie of the Year of the candidate in Luka Dončić and a 6th Man of the Year candidate in J.J. Barea on the team sure doesn’t hurt either. Whenever the starter are struggling and are not getting the job done, it seems as if Coach Carlisle is able to look over at J.J. Barea and the “bench mob” to come in and take the game over. The top four net ratings coming off the bench in this 8-2 stretch are ranging from +20.5 – +35.1. Harrison Barnes, before the Rockets game, had finally gotten his groove back and was leading the charge averaging 20.2 ppg per game in the previous four games. It seems as if the Mavericks can do no wrong and are clicking in all cylinders.
What else has helped the Mavs get a chance to get move up so much in the standings? Home pride across the wild Western Conference. Out of the first 10 teams in the Western Conference, there are 9 teams that have 3 or less loses at home and 7 or more wins. In contrast, they are playing .500 or below basketball when they go into another team’s court. The Mavericks themselves are 8-2 at home and if the Mavericks continue to defend home court in this way, they will steadily stay in the playoff picture through the season. I am sure the more the season progresses, the more teams will get into their groove on the road, so hopefully the Mavericks are one of those teams while maintain a steady front at home.
The Mavericks are 2nd in the SouthWest division (yes, division do still exist) and 8th in the Wester Conference. Tonight the Mavericks are going to face off against the Lakers for the second time this season. Hopefully Luka and the Mavs come out of it with more than just a signed jersey this time and go out there and get this win, continuing their climb up the Western Conference. Just imagine what teams would do for the bench unit that the Mavericks come. As December begins to come close and hopefully Dirk’s return comes along with, it will be interesting to see how Dirk fits in with this new system. It is likely that his addition will probably only make the team more lethal.
Featured Images: Dennis Smith Jr./Mavs.com Luka Doncic/Mavs.com Featured Article: JJ Barea, 6th Man of the Year?/Fraiserfilms