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Week nine power rankings: The Mavericks break into the top half

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A 3-1 stretch has Dallas trending in the right direction.

Portland Trail Blazers v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks made a substantial climb in this weeks slate of NBA Power Rankings. Analysts across the league noted the offense’s return to levels not seen since last season, as well as Luka Doncic putting up record-breaking numbers and improved shooting percentages. The main criticism was an obvious one: the defense has been near league-worst over the past month or so.

If the defensive output can improve, so will the Mavericks winning percentage. And that translates into a higher power rank! Here’s where they stand currently:

NBA.com

Rank: 12

Last Week: 18

In 12 days, the Mavs have climbed from 21st to ninth in offensive efficiency. In the same 12 days, they’ve sunk from 19th to 27th in defensive efficiency. They’ve combined with their opponents to score 125 points per 100 possessions over their last seven games, with the Mavs shooting 49% from the field and 41% from 3-point range and the opponents shooting even better (51% and 43%). Their four-game winning streak included the most efficient game for any team this season (143 points on 99 possessions against New Orleans on Friday), but also narrow wins over the Wolves and struggling Hawks. And when they went down to the wire against the Blazers on Sunday, Luka Doncic couldn’t match Damian Lillard.

Doncic is 0-for-3 on shots to tie or take the lead in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime this season (he was 0-for-10 last season before going 3-for-3 in Game 4 against the Clippers), but his and the Mavs’ overall clutch numbers are improved. Doncic has shot 17-for-35 (49%) on clutch field goal attempts and 11-for-13 on clutch free throws (he was bad at those too last season), helping the Mavs score 124 points on 105 offensive possessions (118 per 100) with the score within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth or OT. Unfortunately, they rank 28th in clutch defense and fell to 6-7 in games that were within five in the last five with the loss to the Blazers (in which Portland scored nine points on four possessions once the game got tight) on Sunday.

CBS Sports

Rank: 12

Last Week: 18

Luka Doncic had a clean look to send the Blazers game to overtime on Sunday night and give the Mavs a chance for a perfect week, but it rimmed out. Still a good week, though, with wins over the Wolves, Hawks and Pelicans as Dallas finds itself back in the playoff picture. Doncic has continued his bonkers stat lines, averaging 36 points (including a career-high 46 against New Orleans), nine assists and 8.3 rebounds this week on 43 percent 3-point shooting. Kristaps Porzingis looks more comfortable as well, averaging 24 points on 46 percent from deep, including a career-high eight triples in the win over the Pelicans.

ESPN

Rank: 14

Last Week: 21

Luka Doncic scored 90 points over the weekend, the most in Mavs history over a two-game span. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only players younger than Doncic to have back-to-back 40-point games are LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Allen Iverson. Doncic has averaged 34.3 points with .503/.444/.849 shooting splits and 9.6 assists while the Mavs won five of their past seven games. A major concern, though: Dallas has allowed a league-worst 125.4 points per 100 possessions during that stretch. — MacMahon

Complex

Rank: 14

Last Week: 17

Dallas is undoubtedly playing better since our last set of rankings. They just had a four-game winning streak snapped Sunday by the Blazers. But the Mavericks’ defensive issues—allowing way too points, 28th in rebounding—probably aren’t going to be fixed anytime soon so they better keep hitting those threes at a higher clip like we’ve seen the past two weeks.

Bleacher Report

Rank: 17

Last Week: 25

Don’t look now, but the Mavs are beginning to get back on track. Dallas went on a four-game win streak before losing a close shootout to the Blazers. During their win streak, Dallas’ offense was picking up steam. They averaged 130.5 points and shot 44.7 percent from three as a team. Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis spearheaded the Mavs’ offensive charge.

Doncic was very efficient, shooting 50.5 percent from the field on his way to averaging 35.5 points per game. To go with the scoring, he also averaged 8.3 rebounds and 9.5 assists on a nightly basis. Porzingis looks as if he is getting his sea legs back. During the streak he dropped 24.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and shot 46.4 percent from three. In the 12 games prior to this streak he was shooting 32.5 percent from three.

The Mavs made a big jump in the rankings despite losing to the Blazers because their offense is starting to resemble the efficient unit of last season.

Check back in next week to see if any of these publications dares list the Mavericks in the top 10.