In a season full of ups and down, Dallas right now is perhaps as “up” as they’ve been yet. After losing three out of four, they turned around and now find themselves on a three game winning streak. The team has missed a combined total of over 200 games due to covid this season. That’s the third most in the league behind only Boston and Chicago. As such, to say they’ve been flying by the seat of their collective pants is an understatement.
The squad is just now rounding back into form with all the major rotation players making their way back to the lineup – just in time to run in to the West-leading buzzsaw that is the Golden State Warriors.
When you’re scared, just find a loved one and hold them close.
In the Warriors game against the Heat on Monday, Steph Curry put up an abysmal 1-10 night from three, and an equally stinky 3-17 from the floor. He scored only nine points – the only time this season he’s failed to reach double digits…
And it didn’t even matter because Jordan Poole came off the bench to put up 32 points on 12-17 shooting. Oh, and the Warriors still shot over 36% from three as a team. So now you’re looking at a team full of contributors riding high on a solid win and a ticked off Steph Curry looking to shake off the stench of his worst performance of the season. Well, good luck!
Both the top end talent and sheer depth of the Golden State squad is a big reason they’ve hardly floundered at all in a season that’s been a brutal slog for even the steadiest of contenders. It’s no wonder they’re running away with the West.
The D is for Defense
THAT SAID… Dallas has a few reasons of their own to pat themselves on the back. After Monday’s victory over Denver in which they held the Nuggets to just 89 points, the Mavs find themselves with the third-best defensive rating over their last 12 games.
Coach Kidd once admitted that this team was not one built for defense. The solution to that, it seems, was to completely change who’s on the team. The injection of youth from players like Chriss, Josh Green, and Theo Pinson propped of the defense with pure energy, and it seems to have rubbed off, at least a little bit, on guys like FInney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, and Reggie Bullock. All guys who were known for their solid defense, but who had been struggling early this season.
Dallas is going to need every bit of that new defensive identity to show up Wednesday night if they want a decent shot at toppling the once and future rulers of the West. It wouldn’t hurt to have a season-best shooting night either, if we’re just asking for things.
Let him introduce himself
Reggie Bullock was ostensibly Dallas’ big acquisition this offseason. After years of reclamation projects, adding a guy that was a starter on an Eastern Conference playoff team seemed about as low risk as you could get. The 30 year old vet had years worth of solid contributions to point to that suggested he would be an effective day-1 starter and consistent player. It wasn’t the case.
However, what a return to form it’s been for the 6’6” wing. In his three games since returning from health and safety protocols, he’s shot 50% from the field, and 53% from three. It’s not so much a new year, new Reggie as it is a new year, OLD Reggie. Or at least the version of Bullock Dallas expected it would see when they acquired him. Steph Curry’s not the only one working on his bounce back!
It’s worth tempering some excitement over Bullock’s resurgence, as he’s cut his teeth against some of the league’s worst defenses. It’s going to be a bit jarring to go from that level of competition to the league-leading Warriors defense, but hopefully three games worth of confidence is all it takes for him to keep shooting the lights out for just a little bit longer. Playing the way he has, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he finds his way back into the starting lineup sooner rather than later.
How to watch
You can watch the broadcast on ESPN at 6:30 CST.
We recorded a special Dirk Nowitzki centic podcast episode which you can listen to here. We’d also love if you subscribed to our pod, search Mavs Moneyball Podcast in your favorite app. Again, click here to listen or play on the embed below.