After their best win-streak in over a decade, which featured Luka Doncic heroics against some of the league’s most inferior opponents, the Dallas Mavericks are fighting through a new reality. Featured in this week’s Power Rankings Watch are some stats that really drive home how thin the margins are for this team. At the very least until the return of Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Green.
Still as they fight tougher opponents now in January they remain in the top third of the league’s rankings and are holding onto homecourt advantage by their finger nails. And with Luka Doncic leading the way there is still a sense of possibility. As we inch closer to the trade deadline keep eyes peeled on how these power ranking lists shift. Rumors continue to swirl, but what happens if the Mavericks stay stagnant amidst a constant roster arms race?
Last week: 7
The Mavs have allowed 116.0 points per 100 possessions since defensive anchor Maxi Kleber tore his right hamstring, falling to 22nd in defensive efficiency for the season. Dallas is 9-6 in that span because the Luka Doncic-led offense is scoring 116.3 points per 100 possessions. Doncic rested in two of the losses. — MacMahon
Rank: 9 (Tier 2: Brink of Contention)
Last week: 9
2021-22 win total: 52
Preseason over/under: 48.5
What’s it looking like? The Mavericks are on pace to flirt with this over/under to the very end of the season. A step back after losing Jalen Brunson in free agency was easy to see. But we could also see a second-half surge this season because Luka Dončić is playing out of everybody’s minds. The Mavs have won eight of their last 10 games, which has helped them get back into the mix for targeting 50 wins on the season. I don’t know if they keep this going, but doubting Luka seems foolish at this point.
Confidence on the over: 6.5/10
Last week: 10
Luka Doncic recorded his ninth triple-double of the season (a modest 34, 10 and 10) on Saturday when the Mavs had a rest advantage against the shorthanded Pelicans. They were at a disadvantage the following night in Oklahoma City, Doncic didn’t play, and the Mavs lost by 11. Doncic has now sat the second game of his team’s last three back-to-backs, the Mavs are 0-4 without him, and they now have the league’s *second biggest differential between their record with rest (21-12, .636) and their record in the second games of back-to-backs (2-6, .250).
* Only the Magic – 15-18 with rest, 0-7 without rest – have a bigger differential.
The New Orleans win came with a lineup change, Dwight Powell in for Reggie Bullock and starting alongside Christian Wood. It’s probably a temporary solution (Dorian Finney-Smith has missed the last 10 games), but the Mavs have outscored their opponents by 26 points (having scored more than 135 per 100 possessions) in 51 total minutes with Doncic, Christian Wood and Powell on the floor together. It’s seemingly more potent to have four shooters around their star, but the Mavs have been at their best offensively (119.5 scored per 100) with Powell on the floor. He’s one of four players who have shot 73% or better on at least 100 field goal attempts this season (something that’s been done only four times prior).
The Mavs have only five back-to-backs (third fewest) remaining on their schedule, they have only one in the next month, and it’s a two-game series in Portland this coming weekend. The Mavs won the first two meetings (one of which came with a Doncic triple-double) and no Western Conference team has scored more efficiently against the Blazers this season.
Last week: 9
A blowout loss at home ended the Mavericks’ season-long, seven-game winning streak. Boston decimated Dallas by nearly 30 points at American Airlines Center and Luka Dončić, the league’s leading scorer, finished with just 23 points. The Mavs bounced back a few nights later against the Pelicans with a 10-point victory at home but they lost to the Thunder on the road without Dončić (ankle) for the second game of a back-to-back Sunday.