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NBA Power Rankings Watch: the Mavericks continue to rely on clutch time

It’s been an up and down last few weeks, but the Mavericks continue to navigate.

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Utah Jazz v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Sam Hodde/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks have had some wild swings in play the last week. They dropped a game to the lowly Memphis Grizzlies, before nearly being blown out by the Oklahoma City Thunder...only to lose after going on an insane 30-0 run in the fourth quarter run at home. After several days off the Mavericks then blew the doors off the AAC with an emphatic 147-97 win over the rebuilding Utah Jazz.

That three-game capsule is in many ways the synopsis of Dallas’ season to date. Capable of sticking with any team on a given night, but also deficient in ways that can have them playing catch up to any opponent. Where they’ve mostly been at their best, and a change of pace from season’s past, is in clutch time where they sport an 8-2 record this season. The Mavericks should face some friendly opponents in December, and the hope will be to get back on track from their early season production.


The Athletic

Rank: 12 (Tier 3: Playoff Teams)

Last week: 9

1st Q: -5.7 net rating | Ranked 21st

2nd Q: -0.5 net rating | Ranked 15th

3rd Q: +5.5 net rating | Ranked seventh

4th Q: +1.0 net rating | Ranked 17th

Clutch: +21.6 net rating | Ranked fifth (tied) | 10 games (8-2)

Takeaway: It’s funny that the Mavericks were a -2.8 net rating in the fourth until Saturday night. That 30-0 run against OKC nearly got them the win, but it definitely got them into the positive for the fourth quarter this season. Their starts to games have been troubling, but they’re coming out of halftime and regaining most of it. Really, this team is trying to get to clutch-time situations, when it’s dominating. I guess that’s why you have Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving on the same team, right?

Key Stats

Record: 11-8

Offensive Rating: 117.4 (7th)

Defensive Rating: 117.3 (25th)

Net Rating: 0.1

ESPN

Rank: 13

Last week: 9

Forward Grant Williams, the Mavs’ most significant free agency addition, is mired in a slump after a sizzling shooting start to his Dallas tenure. After shooting 48% on 3s in the first 13 games, Williams is 7-of-31 (22.6%) from long range in the last six games, four of which were losses. The three days off before Wednesday’s home game against the Jazz might help. Williams is a full-time starter for the first time in his career, and his 28.8 minutes per game are a career high. -- MacMahon

NBA

Rank: 11

Last week: 11

Three takeaways

The Mavs were down 24 to the Thunder with less than 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter on Saturday. Then they scored 30 straight points, shooting 12-for-15 (including 6-for-8 from 3-point range) and rebounding two of their three misses. Alas, the Thunder answered by closing the game on a 15-3 run and NBA teams have now lost the last 1,398 games (including postseason) that they’ve trailed by at least 20 points in the fourth quarter. (The last win was Oklahoma City vs. Miami in the bubble in 2020.)

Dallas surely ran out of gas, playing the second game of a back-to-back. Luka Doncic didn’t play as they lost to Memphis the night before, but that doesn’t mean he was rested (he was celebrating the birth of a child). OKC’s Chet Holmgren tied the game with a tip-in when Doncic didn’t get back in the play after doubling Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Jalen Williams put the Thunder back ahead by blowing past Doncic from the perimeter.

Kyrie Irving missed the OKC game and shot just 11-for-37 (30%) over the previous two. His effective field goal percentage (52.3%) is his lowest mark in the last eight seasons, and the drop from last season (57.2%) is mostly about his shooting inside the arc. He’s shot 56.2% in the paint and 35.8% from mid-range, down from 60.8% and 49.5% last season.

The Mavs have lost five of their last seven games, but remain a top-six team in the West. They’re the only team with 16 games this month, but it’s a relatively easy slate regarding opponent strength (though they did just lose to the Grizzlies). They’re one of eight teams with two Week 7 games against teams with losing records.

Sports Illustrated

Rank: 14

Last week: 11

Luka Dončić is attempting a career-high 10 three-pointers per game and connecting on a career-best 39% of them. Unfortunately Kyrie Irving’s efficiency is going in the other direction: Irving’s 45.5% from the floor is the lowest since the 2015–16 season.