The Mavericks wrapped up the regular season on Sunday night with a loss to the Timberwolves. It didn’t really affect their playoff seeding; they still ended up clinching the fifth seed thanks to an arcane tiebreaker. By winning their first Southwest Division title in ten years, the Mavericks ended up ahead of the Blazers and the Lakers, despite finishing with the exact same record.
No matter what happens in the playoffs, the Mavericks clawing their way out of a dismal record of 9-14 in early February to clinch the fifth seed in the Western Conference is a huge achievement. Here are some stats that explain how they ended up in such a big hole, and how they were able to dig themselves out of it.
28: The number of starting lineups the Mavericks used this season.
To say the lineup was in flux this season would be an understatement. The Mavericks used 28 different starting lineups. For comparison, the Utah Jazz used six. The Phoenix Suns had nine. The Blazers used 13. The Mavericks aren’t the only team that’s dealt with lineup inconsistency. The 76ers used 27, for instance. But it just highlights the fact that they’ve had a much more tumultuous season than some of the teams ahead of them in the standings.
The Mavericks’ most used starting lineup was Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, Josh Richardson, Maxi Kleber, and Dorian Finney-Smith. They went 16-6 as starters.
12.1: The number of turnovers per game.
As usual, Rick Carlisle made sure the Mavericks took care of the ball. Dallas was third in the league in turnovers. Carlisle always emphasizes ball security, and any player who doesn’t get the message finds their minutes diminished quickly.
11.4: The Mavericks’ fast break points per game.
Dallas was 21st in the NBA in fast break points. The Mavericks don’t run. Part of keeping turnovers down is playing with a methodical, careful pace, so Carlisle isn’t exactly interested in the Mavericks trying to push the ball. The Mavericks ranked 26th in pace this season. Doncic prefers to take things slow, as well, picking apart the defense in the half-court rather than on a break.
36.2%: The Mavericks’ 3-point percentage this season.
The Mavericks take a lot of 3-pointers. They finished sixth in the NBA this year in 3-point attempts with 38.1 per game. Unfortunately, they didn’t convert those attempts at a high rate, and it cost them quite a few games. Their 36.2% conversion rate from deep only ranked 18th in the league. They’ll have to shoot better than that if they hope to beat the Clippers.
55.7%: The percentage of the Mavericks’ field goals that came off of assists.
Doncic is an elite passer, but so far that hasn’t affected the Mavericks as a team. Their 55.7% assisted field goal rate is 28th in the NBA. They’re 26th in 3-point field goals made on assists. It’s truly surprising how a team built around a playmaker like Doncic could be so isolation heavy. The Mavericks have to find more players who can create off the dribble this offseason.
114.4: The Mavericks’ clutch time offensive rating this season.
The Mavericks’ clutch time woes last season were well-documented. But this things changed this season. Their 114.4 offensive rating was sixth in the NBA this year. The offense had a better flow, and Doncic operated with more variety in isolation. His improved shooting from deep and the ability to operate in the post certainly helped. Last season, the Mavericks’ clutch time offensive rating of 99.2 ranked 26th. This year, if they can keep things close against the Clippers, they’ll have a chance to win late.