The Dallas Mavericks just wrapped up what could turn out to be the most important week of the season. With a stacked schedule facing teams surrounding them in the standings the team went 3-1, moving their way into the fourth spot in the Western Conference.
There are only seven games left, with the core of it being a four-game road trip out east, and the Mavs now control their own destiny in securing home court advantage in the first round. They continue to impress national outlets — especially Spencer Dinwiddie and the surge the team has had since he joined the team.
Last week: 8
The Mavs’ goal for the remainder of the regular season is to hold on to home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Dallas has surged to fourth in the West standings — breaking a tie by beating Utah on Sunday night — by posting the league’s fourth-best record (29-11) in 2022. After a slow start, free-agency addition Reggie Bullock has been a big factor in the Mavs’ success as a 3-and-D role player, posting the best net rating (plus-8.0 points per 100 possessions) of any Dallas rotation player since Jan. 1. — MacMahon
Rank: 7 (Tier 2: Brink of Contention)
Last week: 8
Promising lineup: Luka Doncic | Jalen Brunson | Tim Hardaway Jr. | Dorian Finney-Smith | Dwight Powell
Last time we checked: 95 minutes | +11.8 net rating
Updated numbers: 95 minutes | +12.3 net rating
Right after we published the Power Rankings with these lineups in late January, Hardaway broke his foot, and he hasn’t been back since, so there isn’t any update on the lineup data in this case. Let’s find a new promising lineup for the surging Dallas Mavericks under Jason Kidd. And let’s look at it since their Christmas Day loss, which is when this turnaround started. Their most used lineup (216 minutes) in this time has Doncic, Brunson, Reggie Bullock, Finney-Smith and Powell. This has been a really good lineup for them. It’s actually not very good defensively (113.2), which is different from most of why Dallas has been winning. But offensively, it reminds us of the Mavs from a couple years ago. They’re playing slow, barely turning the ball over and picking apart opposing defenses for 122.7 points per 100 possessions. Kidd would like more competition from their defense, but this is a pretty good balance for them.
Questionable lineup: Luka Doncic | Tim Hardaway Jr. | Dorian Finney-Smith | Kristaps Porzingis | Dwight Powell
Last time we checked: 103 minutes | -17.1 net rating
Updated numbers: 103 minutes | -17.1 net rating
Porzingis is gone, and Spencer Dinwiddie is in. But I want to focus on a tweak to the lineup I broke down above. Remove Bullock from that lineup and let’s go more traditional with Maxi Kleber in there. This lineup has been getting torched for the Mavs. Second most-used lineup since Christmas Day, and it’s giving up over 117 points per 100 possessions. It isn’t scoring well at all, showing a lot of the droughts we’ve seen from them in the first part of the season. At some point, they’ll need this lineup against bigger frontcourts in the playoffs. They can’t get shredded like this. They have to compete.
Last week: 7
Dallas’ addition of Spencer Dinwiddie remains one of the more important storylines of this latter half of the season.
The Mavericks are 13-5 since acquiring Dinwiddie at the trade deadline, and they are plus-2.8 points per 100 possessions when he shares the floor with Luka Doncic.
What may be more important, though, is how Dinwiddie plays without Luka. After going for 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting in Wednesday’s Doncic-less win over the Houston Rockets, Dinwiddie is now averaging 31.7 points, 6.6 assists and 3.1 threes per 75 possessions while shooting 44.4 percent from deep when Luka is off the floor.
Dallas has generally been fine when Luka leaves the game this season, but Dinwiddie’s added playmaking provides a level of insurance that things will remain that way.
Last week: 6
If last week didn’t go well, the Mavs could be in seventh place right now. Instead, they’re in fourth, only two games behind the reeling Warriors, against whom they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. And five of their seven remaining games are against teams that are at least 10 games under .500.
The Mavs are a jump-shooting team, ranking third in the percentage of their shots that have come from outside the paint (57%) and sixth in the percentage from 3-point range (43.5%). They rank 10th in mid-range field goal percentage, but 24th in 3-point percentage (34.3%), and over their first three games last week, they were 32-for-122 (26%) from beyond the arc. But Dorian Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock both hit big 3s to cap off a game-deciding, 10-2 run against the Wolves. And then the Mavs broken out on Sunday, shooting 17-for-34 from beyond the arc (Bullock was 7-for-11) to beat the Jazz at their own game (and move past them in the standings).
With that victory over the Wolves on Monday (they got crushed in Minnesota four nights later), the Mavs have won their last seven (and 12 of their last 14) games that were within five points in the five minutes, with Spencer Dinwiddie having hit a game-winner 12 days ago against one of his former teams. He’ll face two more former teams (Washington and Detroit) on the four-game trip that begins Wednesday in Cleveland.