It seemed the Mavericks could do no wrong against the Clippers on Sunday. Dallas dominated in almost every category in the box score in their 124-73 victory. The only thing the Clippers did better than the Mavericks is score off of turnovers. Otherwise, they were outmatched in every aspect of the game.
One stat that stands out is the Mavericks’ 28-3 advantage in fast break points. Dallas has ranked in the middle of the pack in fast break points the last two seasons. They’ve also been outscored on fast breaks the last two seasons by an average of 2.5 points per game. That may not seem like much, but with all the close games the Mavericks lost last year, a few points here and there might have been worth a few more wins. And a few more wins might have resulted in a higher seeding and an easier path to the Western Conference Finals.
The Mavericks have played at a middling pace the last two seasons, ranking 19th in 2018-19 and 18th in 2019-20. They’re not exactly plodding, but they don’t have their foot on the gas, either. This has been pretty consistent under Rick Carlisle. Dallas has only ranked in the top ten in pace twice since Carlisle became coach. The rest of his tenure they’ve stayed in the bottom half of the league.
This is due to Carlisle’s philosophy of limiting turnovers and reducing opponents’ opportunities to score. And it makes sense when the Mavericks have point guards who are normal, average NBA players. But when they have an unworldly basketball genius like Luka Doncic, one could argue that more possessions are better, even if it results in a few more turnovers.
Check out the play below:
The Mavericks should try to get a play like this on every defensive rebound. Doncic should push the ball up with urgency, and every other player should sprint down the floor ahead of him. Even if opponents prevent an easy bucket, they’ll usually end up mismatched in man defense, which the Mavericks should be able to exploit. Fast breaks allow Doncic to exploit his surgical passing ability before opponents’ defense gets set. For a team that’s struggled with half-court offense, a few easy buckets should always be welcome.
Five of the last six NBA champions have ranked in the top five in the league in fast break points. That’s not to say the Mavericks need to rank in the top five in fast break points. But despite his offensive brilliance, Doncic shouldn’t have to work hard every possession to get the Mavericks some points. If Dallas can keep running into easy baskets like they did against the Clippers, their offense should continue to operate at historically efficient levels.