This season has been a roller coaster ride for Dallas Mavericks fans. It seemed like Mavericks took a step back for every step forward. They showed promise in the preseason, then lost two in a row to start the regular season. They beat the Clippers by 51, only to lose against the Hornets in an embarrassing fashion afterward. Then they beat a good Heat team with a great defensive effort, only to lose to the Bulls in the next game. Mavericks reshuffled their starting lineup and beat the Rockets convincingly on Monday. The logical question was can the new lineup keep the momentum with another good performance?
Here are some interesting numbers from yesterday’s game.
2: The Mavericks won two games in a row for the first time this season
This is a simple number, but it might be the most important one. Inconsistency was the theme of the first two weeks of the Mavericks season. Dallas finally took a step forward with a streak of two good performances against Houston and Denver.
142.9: Dallas Mavericks offensive rating in the clutch
Fans still remember Mavericks last season’s clutch struggles. So when Dallas entered the last five-minute mark of the fourth quarter with a three-point deficit, I bet most fans thought “here we go again”. Yet, the Mavericks were great in the clutch in this game. Per NBA stats, Dallas had an unbelievable 142.9 offensive rating in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime against the Nuggets. Dallas also had a defensive rating of 95.2 in the same period.
29: Amount of points Luka Dončić scored or assisted on in the 4th quarter and overtime
Luka Dončić led Maverick's great clutch performance on offense. Per ESPN Stats:
Luka Doncic scored or assisted on 29 of the Mavericks last 38 points of the game (76%), beginning with his assist at the 7:38 mark of the 4th quarter.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 8, 2021
The Nuggets scored 29 points as a team during that span. pic.twitter.com/t2MAeJfYFr
Not only did the Mavericks had a good two-game stretch, their star Dončić followed a 33 point, 16 rebounds, 11 assist triple-double against Houston, with another great performance. Dončić missed his second consecutive triple-double by one assist. His final stat line against Denver was 38 points, 13 assists, and nine rebounds.
However, Dončić was not the only star in the clutch. Maxi Kleber had nine points, four rebounds, and a block in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter and overtime. He hit 3 of 4 of his three-point attempts, including a key shot on a final possession in the fourth quarter. Josh Richardson, scored seven points during the same period, after struggling with shooting throughout the game.
107.5: Mavericks’ defense kept Dallas in the game early, allowing only 107.5 points per 100 possessions
Things didn’t start well for the Mavericks (see our last stat) on offense. It was the effort on defense that kept Dallas in the game and it was the reason why Dallas trailed only nine points at the half. (52 - 43). Per Cleaning the Glass data, Denver was NBA’s 3rd most efficient offense before yesterday’s game (116.2 points per 100 possessions). The Maverick’s defense held them to 107.5 points per 100 possessions yesterday. The defense was very active all night long, generating 12 steals and seven blocked shots. Dorian Finney-Smith had a great overall game, with 14 points, 8 rebounds, three steals ,two block, and two assists, while shooting 4 of 8 from three.
5197: Pepsi Center’s elevation in feet
Dallas struggled out of the gate, shooting only 33% in the first half and only 19% from three. Dallas didn’t only struggle with shooting, 9 of 13 Mavericks’ turnovers happened in the first half. In his post-game interview, Maxi Kleber mentioned that Mavericks needed the time to adapt to Denver’s high altitude and that their energy level wasn’t right in the first half.
The thin air certainly didn’t bother the Mavericks in the second half. They came out of the locker room with a flamethrower, shooting 62.2% from the field, and 71.4% from beyond the three-point line after the break.