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NBA Power Rankings Watch: the Mavericks continue to build momentum

A few more clutch wins under their belt for a stingy Mavericks squad.

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NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Boston Celtics Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks keep on winning the big games. Let’s focus on that, and not the gut-punching letdown of a game against the New York Knicks last week. After a thrilling road victory Sunday against the Boston Celtics, the Mavericks will bank on momentum carrying them through the rest of a tough Eastern conference road trip.

This week’s Power Rankings Watch is packed full of great stats on the Mavericks’ clutch playmaking, and a surging offense of late. While it still feels surprising every time they notch another win against an elite team, it’s clear this team must be taken seriously.

ESPN

Rank: 8

Last week: 10

The Mavs have gone from miserable to magnificent in clutch situations this season. They ranked last in the league in clutch defensive efficiency (130.1) and net rating (minus-34.5) after a Feb. 2 overtime loss to the Thunder. Since then, Dallas ranks first in those two categories (78.9 defensive efficiency, plus-48.8 net rating). Dallas has won 10 of 12 games that qualify as clutch in that span, including Sunday’s comeback in Boston, when the Mavs held the Celtics scoreless for the final 2:37. — MacMahon

The Athletic

Rank: 7 (Brink of contention)

Last week: 6

Remaining Strength of Schedule Ranking (toughness): 13th in West | 23rd in NBA

Games Remaining: 14 | 8 road games, 6 home games

Key Matchups Remaining: Minnesota, at Minnesota, Utah

Playoff push lookahead: The Dallas Mavericks refuse to go away, and we’ve seen a surge out of their offense in the last 30-plus games. The Spencer Dinwiddie trade has worked out wonderfully so far. I wasn’t sure how it was going to look with needing to find time for him, Doncic and Jalen Brunson, but they’ve actually made it work with all three on the court. The Mavs continue to win these big games over Utah and Boston. Their defense makes games ugly, and Doncic keeps finding ways to get them to victories. They have a real chance at the No. 4 seed, but they need to win that last game against Utah to start working toward the tiebreaker. They’re just 1-2 so far against Utah this season. It’s amazing those upcoming games against Minnesota are big, but losing those would give Minnesota an outside chance of leapfrogging them in this final push.

Bleacher Report

Rank: 8 (as of 3.11)

Last week: 8

Teams are entitled to letdowns, especially during the regular season, but Wednesday’s 30-point drubbing at the hands of the New York Knicks was among the Dallas Mavericks’ most surprising losses of the season.

Still, Dallas is 12-5 since January 29, and Luka Doncic remains one of the hottest players in the league.

Over his last 20 games, Luka is averaging 32.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 3.5 threes while shooting 38.7 percent from three.

NBA

Rank: 5

Last week: 7

Defeats don’t come much worse than the one the Mavs suffered (by 30 points to New York) on Wednesday, their worst offensive performance (77 points on 92 possessions) since October. But the Mavs are still tied for the league’s best record (13-3) over the last 5 1/2 weeks, and their two big wins last week far outweigh what was (wildly) their sixth straight home loss to the Knicks.

On Monday, the Mavs beat the Jazz to keep themselves very much in the race for a top-four seed in the West. And on Sunday, they beat the other team that’s 13-3 over the last 5 1/2 weeks, coming back from 13 points down in the second half in Boston. In both games, the Mavs were missing a starter (Jalen Brunson or Reggie Bullock), with Spencer Dinwiddie filling in. He shot 8-for-15 from 3-point range over the two wins, draining the game-winner off a feed from Luka Doncic on Sunday. Dinwiddie is now 8-for-16 (third best among 56 players with at least 15 attempts) on clutch 3-pointers this season, including 2-for-2 with the Mavs. Over the 11 games that they’ve had him, the Mavs have been 18.4 points per 100 possessions better with Dinwiddie on the floor (plus-9.7) than they have with him on the bench (minus-8.7).

The Mavs still as many games remaining against the Eastern Conference as they do against the West, and all seven of the games against the East are on the road. Even with their four-game trip beginning with that huge win in Boston, they’re just 3-5 in Eastern Conference arenas, set to visit Kevin Durant and Joel Embiid on Wednesday and Friday. They’ll have a rest advantage in Brooklyn, with the Nets having played in Orlando the night before.

Sports Illustrated

Rank: 7

Last week: 8

The Mavericks went 3–1 last week, which included overcoming a 13-point deficit on Sunday to defeat the Celtics and snap Boston’s five-game winning streak. It marked the sixth time this season that Dallas has snapped an opponent’s win streak of five or more games. The Mavericks lead the NBA in this category. Dallas hopes to ride this wave on its current road trip that includes stops in Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Charlotte this week.