The Dallas Mavericks hold the second best active win-streak in the league (behind the Brooklyn Nets 12-game run) at seven games. They took advantage of a soft spot in the schedule, even playing several rotation players down. You can choose to hedge any excitement from this stretch as lucky timing, but winning the games in front of you, especially shorthanded, is all you can ask. Especially given this team’s history against inferior opponents.
This recent success has been noted in this week’s Power Rankings Watch. Luka Doncic is on a scorcher, averaging 37.8 points, 11 rebounds, and 9.9 assists while shooting almost 41-percent from three during the streak. The schedule takes a hard right turn, so much can be learned in the next week or so. But for now, enjoy.
Rank: 7 (Tier 2: Brink of Contention)
Last week: 11
New Year’s resolution: Get the hell out of Luka Dončić’s way. There are times I wonder if Dallas’ heliocentric offensive system is conducive to consistent postseason success, but he’s put up 228 points in his last five games. Who cares if it’s conducive or not? Luka is putting on arguably the best show in basketball right now. He currently has the 16th-highest scoring average in a season in NBA history. Keep it going.
Last week: 13
You could certainly look at the last 10 days with a glass-half-empty perspective. Over that stretch, the Mavs have needed a 50-point game from Luka Doncic to beat the Rockets by six, they’ve needed an unprecedented 60-21-and-10 performance (along with a miracle put-back) from Doncic to beat the shorthanded Knicks in overtime, and they’ve needed a 51-point game from him to beat the Spurs by one. It’s been noted in this space before that the Mavs have not been very good against bad teams.
But just look at those numbers coming from a player who is still just 23 years old. Over the Mavs’ six-game winning streak, Doncic has averaged 42.2 points, 10.8 rebounds, 10.2 assists and 2.5 steals while shooting 59% from the field (including 47% from 3-point range). He’s having the most efficient scoring season of his career by a healthy margin, and his true shooting percentage of 62.2% would be the fourth-highest* mark among the 21 players who’ve registered a usage rate of 35% or higher in the 27 seasons of play-by-play data.
The Mavs’ six-game winning streak is tied (with a streak from exactly one year ago) for the Mavs’ longest in their five seasons with Doncic, and it’s taken them from 10th to fourth place in the West. They’ll have a pretty good chance to extend it to seven games with their third game against the Rockets in the span of 11 days, but the schedule gets tougher after that. Doncic has rested in the second game of the Mavs’ last two back-to-backs, the Mavs are 0-3 without him this season, and their next back-to-back is Saturday (vs. the Pelicans) and Sunday (at Oklahoma City).
Last week: 11
Luka Doncic is averaging 41.7 points, 11.0 rebounds, 9.9 assists and 2.3 steals during the Mavericks’ seven-game winning streak. It is Dallas’ longest such streak since winning eight in a row in February and March 2011, during the Mavs’ championship season. They are missing a starter and two key reserves due to injuries, but they have outscored opponents by 73 points with Doncic on the floor during the streak and been outscored by 27 when he rests. — MacMahon
Last week: 10
The Mavericks earned four wins last week and extended their winning streak to seven games on Monday, overcoming an 18-point, second-half deficit to defeat the Rockets. Luka Dončić, the league’s leading scorer (averaging 34.3 ppg this season), earned Western Conference Player of the Week honors after averaging 48.7 points through three of the Mavs’ games last week. While Dončić is undoubtedly having an incredible year, it is worth noting the impact of Christian Wood, who has notched 20.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game in the Mavs’ last 10 games.