Dallas finished the week just 1-3 with losses to the Lakers, Pacers, and Suns. The only win came in convincing fashion against Philadelphia. Maxi Kleber made his return against Indiana on Tuesday.
Team Grade: C-
Dallas’ defense is horrid right now. They’re the fourth-worst defense by rating since the All-Star break, giving up 121.9 points per 100 possessions. They’re letting opponents shoot 72 percent at the rim and 53 percent from five to nine feet over their last 10 games. Right now, I am not convinced that the Mavericks would be much worse on defense if they stayed back on their offensive end.
The offense, on the other hand, has been humming. A complete 180 from their defense, they are third in offensive rating over the last 10 games. Tim Hardaway Jr. is leading the league (among those who take seven or more threes a game) in three-point percentage since All-Star festivities at nearly 60 percent from deep. Bullock is seventh among those players, at almost 45 percent himself.
Despite the new-look offense clicking, the results just have not been there. Dallas blew a 27-point lead to the Lakers last Sunday, and nearly a 20-point lead to Philadelphia on Thursday. The team just seems to die on defense for stretches and has no rim protection to deter other teams from getting a few easy buckets to spark a run. It is hard to rely on an aging Maxi Kleber to give Dallas the defense they need, and for this reason, will likely continue to lose games they shouldn’t.
Straight A’s: Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic
The Doncic-Irving era in Dallas has not gotten off to a great start record-wise, but there is no doubt that this duo was meant for each other on offense. Doncic is getting catch-and-shoot opportunities with Irving’s gravity, and Irving is getting plenty of driving lanes with the space Doncic creates. They are effectively unguardable and can outscore any team in the league with these two on the floor.
Both are incredibly efficient, complement each other, and are learning how to play together very quickly. Irving provides a more upbeat tempo when Doncic sits, and Doncic slows things down with Irving on the bench. This makes it incredibly hard to defend them throughout a game because you have to game plan for two different teams. Then, when they take the floor together, there is a beautiful combination of both styles culminating in an offense so deadly that not even the most talented defensive teams will be able to stop them.
Failing Miserably: Josh Green
After playing so well in the games that followed the trade for Kyrie Irving, Josh Green has taken a dive. Only averaging 6.6 points in his last 5 games, his defense has not been good enough to justify the offensive slouch. Dallas sorely needs energy on the defensive end, and Green just has not been who they need him to be. He has reverted to a form he has not been in for a while, and for Dallas to make the push they want to make, they need the Green they got in early to mid-February.