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Mavericks Power Rankings Watch: a season full of contradictions

All is not lost in Dallas. But this team must find themselves, and fast.

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NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks are making the fan experience impossible this season. They manage every week to shock and surprise, ignite and deflate, pull apart every emotion a loyal follower can muster. It is a high-wire act, a feat few franchises could pull off as a .500 team.

And yet here we are, logging another power rankings watch, trying to make sense of this group. It is important to remember, while the vibes continue to feel tepid, that the parity in the West leaves the Mavericks one winning streak away from where they found themselves in the standings last season. All is not lost. But this confounding Mavericks team must find themselves.

The Athletic

Rank: 10 (Tier 3: Playoff teams)

Last week: 10

1st Q: +7.1 net rating | Ranked 7th

2nd Q: +2.5 net rating | Ranked 11th

3rd Q: -0.2 net rating | Ranked 16th

4th Q: -2.2 net rating | Ranked 18th

Clutch: -11.8 net rating | Ranked 22nd (tied) | 18 games (9-9)

Takeaway: The Mavericks looked like they were going to have an amazing week. Then, they gave up a game-winner to Brook Lopez before getting housed by the Bulls. They’ve really regressed in second quarters and their fourth-quarter performance has taken a hit, too. Some of that can be thrown out of whack by that poor performance against Chicago, a game in which Luka Dončić did not play. But they’re just barely doing enough in the first half before things start slipping away in the second half. Plus, the Mavs don’t look good in the clutch, despite their .500 record. They’re so predictable and stagnant, and victory or defeat tends to come down to whether Dončić can make tough shots. They could use a little imagination down the stretch of the fourth quarters and clutch games to put opponents away, and they have to stop letting big leads turn into close games.


Rank: 14

Last week: 11

Luka Doncic’s 38-point, 11-rebound outing in Monday’s win over the Thunder was his 37th career 35-point double-double, matching Dirk Nowitzki for the most in franchise history. Doncic finished two assists shy of his 27th career 30-point triple-double. It was also the 34th consecutive 20-point performance for him, tying a franchise record set by Mark Aguirre in 1983-84. — MacMahon


Rank: 15

Last week: 17

Week 8 was a big one for the Mavs, and they won the two more important games, demolishing the Suns and then edging the Nuggets in Denver (and with a rest disadvantage). Since Thanksgiving, the Mavs have taken a league-high 51.3% of their shots from 3-point range, up from 47% (third) prior to that. And over those two wins last week, they shot 37-for-77 (48%) from beyond the arc, with Dorian Finney-Smith draining the game-winner in Denver when Luka Doncic was doubled.

But the Mavs were just 13-for-40 (33%) from 3-point range against the Bucks on Friday, when free throws were a bigger issue. Tim Hardaway Jr. went 0-for-3 from the line with a little less than three minutes left, Finney-Smith went 0-for-2 with the Mavs up one and 11 seconds to go, and Dallas was 10-for-24 (42%) from the stripe altogether in a game they lost by one. There have been three instances this season where a team has shot less than 50% on at least 20 free throw attempts, the Mavs have accounted for two of the three, and the other one was an overtime loss in Detroit earlier this month. Overall, the Grizzlies (69.8%) have still shot worse from the line than the Mavs (72.3%), but Memphis has had six fewer games that were within five points in the last five minutes and no team has shot worse on clutch free throws than Dallas (62.3%).

Doncic got a day off on Saturday and the Mavs got blown out in Chicago, just the second time this season they’ve been outscored from 3-point range. They’ve lost the last five games they’ve played against teams that currently rank in the top 10 defensively, and both of their games against the league’s No. 1 defense (that of the Cavs) are this week.

Sports Illustrated

Rank: 8

Last week: 10

As expected, the wheels fell off for the Mavericks without Luka Dončić. Dallas lost by 29 in Chicago on Saturday to drop to 0–2 without him this season. He led the team to wins against the Suns and Nuggets earlier in the week, and his 33-point effort against the Bucks ended with a one-point loss in the final seconds of the game. The Mavs haven’t strayed far from .500 this year, though they have three consecutive games ahead at home, where they’ve fared much better than on the road thus far.