Breath of Fresh Air, Desperate for a Fresh Start
The Dallas Mavericks desperately needed the All-Star break for a chance at a fresh start. The team has been plagued by injuries and dropped multiple games in the clutch as of late, including two close losses to the Jazz, a loss against the Wizards at the buzzer, and a gut punch by the Grizzlies and Suns. The Mavericks started the season hovering around the two-three seed in the western conference by has recently dropped all the way to seventh. Over the last 10 games, the Mavericks are a mere 5-5.
The good news is the Mavericks are still eight games from falling to the nine seed and only three games back from fourth. For the Mavericks fans who believe the team is underperforming, put those numbers into perspective. The amount of games the team has lost in the clutch and the constant frustration of injury and they are still a top team in the league. At the beginning of the season, the Mavericks were projected to be fighting three or four other teams for the final eight seed. However, at the All-Star break, it appears that they have solidified themselves as a playoff lock and potential spoiler.
Good Road Ahead
The Mavericks still have the most efficient offense in the NBA and have the third least amount of road losses. This will play big in the playoffs. Many teams struggle on the road but the Mavericks seem to strive in the road environment.
Coming out of the break, the Mavericks have their weakest section of the schedule thus far. There are a few tough matchups at the end of the season but it would be nice to see the Mavericks win nine of the next eleven games. The schedule could certainly allow a streak like that and it would be great for the team’s confidence going into the end of the season.
Equation for Playoff Success
From a surface level, the team needs to see the recent production of Porzingis to continue. He was brought to the team to be a co-star alongside Luka but he has not consistently been that player until late. In the absence of Luka, Porzingis has been phenomenal but he has to produce at the same level while Doncic is on the floor.
In the ten games in February, Porzingis has averaged twenty-seven points and ten rebounds a game at a +18.2. Understanding usage rates with Doncic coming back full strength, Porzingis’ scoring will likely go down but his (+/-) must remain steady. Willie Cauley-Stein has shown some serious potential as well. In the Hornets game on the road, he was phenomenal with fifteen points and ten rebounds. Fans have yet to see the new acquisition of Micheal Kidd-Gilchrist and how his defense will translate into the rotation. If Coach Carlisle can rally the team together, the Mavericks could get certainly get hot coming out of the break.
The Dallas Mavericks play the Orlando Magic on Friday at 7:00 PM EST.
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