The Mavericks panic meter has never been so high in the Luka Dončić era. Even the usually upbeat Dončić is not shying away from the difficult situation the Mavericks put themselves in.
Luka Doncic says Mavs are "terrible" right now. "There’s really not much to say. I never felt like this. We’ve got to do something, because this is not looking good. We’ve got to step up and just talk to each other and play way better than this. It’s mostly effort."— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) January 30, 2021
Dallas is in a four-game losing streak, after losing in an embarrassing fashion twice against the hottest team in the league, the Utah Jazz.
But things are not getting any easier for Dallas. The Mavericks have less than 18 hours to talk things out and find the effort Dončić preached about, this time against the Phoenix Suns. At least this is a home game.
Can the Mavericks stop anybody?
Dallas has the league’s worst defense over the stretch of the last eight games. It’s not surprising the Mavericks are 2-6 in this period. The Mavericks started the season with a new defensive mindset and were among the NBA's best defenses after the first ten games. But Dallas’s defense fell off the cliff when Covid-19 hit the team.
The Suns have their own struggles, especially on the offensive end. Devin Booker missed the last three games because of the left hamstring strain. He is listed as “out” for tonight's game per NBA injury report. The Suns are 2-7 over the last two and a half weeks. Booker’s absence is hurting them on the offensive end and the Suns are 22th ranked offense over the span of the last six games. With Booker out, this is an opportunity for Dallas to finally start turning things around on defense.
Will Kristaps Porzingis get out of the funk he is in?
The Mavericks have not yet submitted their injury report, so I assume Porzingis will play. If he plays, the turnaround on defense has to start with him. As much as he is struggling with his shot (28.6% three-point shooting this season), it was Porzinigis’s defense that hurt Dallas even more against the Jazz. Prozingis looks slow and the Jazz exploited that in the last two games. Utah attacked Porzingis in pick and roll continuously and Dallas’s defense looked better when more mobile Dwight Powell was on the floor.
With Booker out, the hands will be in Chris Paul’s hands more. Paul is a master of pick and roll and he is always among the league leaders in pick and roll frequency. The Suns are not the three-point shooting team that the Jazz are, but it will be crucial for Porzingis to be more aggressive and not get exposed in pick and roll situations. It also wouldn’t hurt if Porzinigis would finally have a good game on offense. His last three games on offense: 16 points, 33% FG% against Denver; 18 points and 44% FG% in the first Utah game; and 11 points, 29% FG% in the second Utah game.
Are Mavericks really the league’s worst shooting team?
The horrendous Maverick defense might be the biggest problem but poor three-point shooting is a close second. The Mavericks have shot better than 35% from the three-point range only once in their last eight games.
32.9% three-point field goal percentage makes Dallas the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA.
There is a lot to process for the team and Mavericks fans at the moment. Let’s hope the Mavericks recover and we can enjoy basketball again.
How to watch
The Mavericks play on Fox Sports Southwest or NBA League Pass at 8:00 pm CST.