Mid-January is when the grind of the season takes its toll, and that’s certainly true for the Dallas Mavericks. They had a tough West coast road trip, and the added labor missing key rotation players is catching up. Add on top a double overtime battle with the Los Angeles Lakers and it’s no surprise the team didn’t have the legs to win another game last week.
The good news is the impending arrival of both Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Green, two players that have had extended absence and also provide the defensive energy this team has sorely missed over the last month. Will their return provide enough of a push to the all-star break, where everyone can recover and hit the reset button? We shall see. If anything, perhaps their presence will provide some stability.
Last week: 9
With half of the rotation injured, the Mavs were running on fumes by the end of a five-game road trip. The lone win on the trip came in double overtime over the Los Angeles Lakers, when Doncic played a career-high 53 minutes. He was held to a season-low 15 points in a loss in Portland two nights later and sat out the second end of the back-to-back, as he’s done five times this season. — MacMahon
Rank: 13 (Tier 3: Play-in Tournament Teams or Better)
Last week: 9
First-quarter grade: C+ | Ranked 10th
Halfway grade: B-
The Mavericks are wondering if anybody wants to join Luka Dončić on any given night to help the team win a game. We know he’s going to produce every game. And at an insane pace of production too. But their defense hasn’t been close to what it was last season, and they miss Jalen Brunson for steadying things. The offense is still great, but they need another creator to help out. We’ll see if they get active before the deadline.
Prediction update: Dorian Finney-Smith makes the NBA All-Defense team. … Dallas’ defense has regressed quite a bit this season, and that’s going to make it a lot harder for Finney-Smith to make an all-defensive team. He’s also missed 12 games so far.
Last week: 9
We can lament the Mavs’ inability to hold onto Jalen Brunson, point to the lack of talent around Luka Doncic, and believe that his team needs to lessen his burden in the offense. But the Mavs rank seventh offensively, up from 14th last season and having scored *2.2 more points per 100 possessions than they did in ’21-22. And it’s on defense where the Mavs have been much worse than they were last season, allowing 5.6 more points per 100 possessions (only the Spurs, Warriors and Suns have seen bigger jumps) and falling from seventh to 25th on that end of the floor.
* The league average has seen a jump of 1.7 per 100.
As the Mavs have lost four of their last five games (somewhat fortunate to pull out a double-OT win in L.A. on Thursday), they’ve allowed their opponents to score 132.6 points per 100 possessions over the four losses. Prior to Saturday, they were 13-0 when they scored at least 120 possessions. But after their two-game series in Portland (over which Spencer Dinwiddie totaled 53 points on 15-for-27 shooting), they’re 13-2. The Mavs have seen the league’s third biggest jump in opponent free throw rate, from 24.1 attempts per 100 shots from the field (10th) last season to 29.2 per 100 (29th) this season. And on Sunday, the Blazers were 37-for-42 from the line.
Having sat that Sunday game, Doncic has now rested in the second game of the Mavs’ last four back-to-backs. Their next one (another two games series) isn’t until Feb. 10 and 11, and the Mavs now have a couple of days off before they begin a four-game homestand in which all four opponents – the Hawks, Heat, Clippers and Wizards – have bottom-10 offenses. Of course, three of those four teams should probably rank higher offensively than they currently do, and the Clippers’ win over the Mavs last week was one of their most efficient offensive games of the season.
Last week: 9
Dallas has now lost four of five games after it dropped two in a row in Portland over the weekend, the second of which was without Luka Dončić. The Mavericks star finished with a season-low 15 points in limited minutes of the blowout on Saturday and sat out the second game on Sunday.
Earlier in the week, he scored 43 in a loss to the Clippers, and it took 35 from Dončić and double overtime to put away the Lakers a few nights later for the only Dallas win all week. The Mavs are home for their next four with two nationally televised games versus the Hawks and Heat coming up.