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Grading the Mavericks: The stars are shining in Dallas

Dallas is hot and so are Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at New Orleans Pelicans Matthew Hinton-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavericks are 8-2 and are tied for first in the Western Conference. They beat the Clippers and Pelicans this past week, two games that required just over two and a half minutes of Luka Doncic in the fourth quarter. They lost their first home game to Toronto, where they surrendered 72 points in the paint.

Grade: A

The Mavericks are humming. Winners of two in a row, Dallas has the league’s second-best offense scoring just over 124 points a game. Dating back to last season, they have scored 114 points in 11 consecutive games. This team is unguardable on offense and the heads of the snake are both starting to roll. Luka Doncic averaged 35 points over the three games this past week and Kyrie Irving poured in 28 a game too. The Mavericks finally got the production from their stars that they are accustomed to seeing.

On a more sour note, Dallas is still horrendous at guarding the paint. Although they have scored at an elite clip, they are still giving up nearly 118 points per game. 57 of those are coming in the paint. The Mavericks struggle with stopping guys from getting to the rim especially when Derek Lively isn’t back there protecting it. On one hand, they have been really bad in this one area. On the other, they know exactly what they need to fix. Overall, having the offense flow like it has is much more important than their woes on defense.

The win against the Pelicans, who had lost four in a row (now five) and were looking to get back on track, was bigger than it seemed. The Mavericks have struggled in those spots in years past, losing to inferior teams after a big win. There is a change in the culture in Dallas, much like there was after Kristaps Porzingis was traded away two years ago. This team has won games they’re supposed to, which is a great sign early on.

Straight A’s: Kyrie Irving

Irving is finally rounding into form. Whether his foot injury really did bother him for the first seven or so games or he just didn’t play well, the rust has finally been shaken off. In addition to the 62 points he’s put up in the last two blowout victories, he’s dished out 10 assists and grabbed 12 rebounds. He shot 54 percent in those games, including 63 percent (12-for-19) from three. The offense has always worked with him and Doncic and if he can keep this up, the offense is going to be historically good.

Currently Failing: In-Season Tournament courts

The Mavericks play tonight in New Orleans where the Pelicans will don their In-Season tournament court. Here is a look at it:

Not only is this court offensive to the eyes, but I could not imagine trying to decipher where the three-point line is on it at the top of the key. On a related note, Dallas was supposed to play on their custom court against Los Angeles last Friday, but couldn’t due to manufacturing issues. They already had to repaint the one in Denver two weekends ago, which begs the question: are these monstrosities really worth the trouble?

Extra Credit: Jason Kidd

Lost in the Mavericks’ excellence on the court is Jason Kidd’s excellent start to the season. His decision to change Luka Doncic’s rotation, start Derrick Jones Jr., and even run with Derek Lively have been key pieces to the Mavericks’ success and Kidd deserves his flowers.