clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Grading the Mavericks: health is returning and so are the wins

The Mavericks have welcomed back key players and the win column in the last week and a half

Dallas Mavericks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by David L. Nemec/NBAE via Getty Images

The Mavericks have gone 3-2 over their last five games and have a 28-23 record. Dallas is eighth in the Western Conference, but just two games out of fifth. They have won two games in a row, defeating Philadelphia and Brooklyn on the road. Their other win came at home against Orlando with two losses to the Timberwolves and Bucks sandwiched in between. Currently, just Dereck Lively and Dante Exum reside on the injury report.

Grade: B-

Dallas has played solid basketball in the last five games. Their two-game win streak is unique in that Luka Doncic has not led them in scoring in either game, which seems like it has not happened since he played for Real Madrid. Beating Orlando was gutty but required a herculean effort from Doncic, a theme not uncommon for this team. Dallas’ best effort might have come in a Kyrie Irving-less and Doncic-less outing in Minnesota where they kept it close for almost three quarters.

The good, however, is always balanced by the bad, and Dallas’ collapse against Milwaukee was bad. If you scroll through the schedule and see a 12-point loss to the Bucks without Irving or Dereck Lively, nothing will seem awry. However, if you click on the team stats section and see Dallas’ largest lead was 25, you get a completely different feeling. It is the second 20-point lead the Mavericks have squandered this season, and they’ve both come in the last eight games. Last week we touched on how the coaching has hurt this team, and the lack of leadership reared its ugly head once again.

Dallas could have gained some serious momentum had they won that game against Milwaukee. Instead, the up-and-down cycle of the season continues. Players are returning from injury one by one and the Mavericks are going to need more of that if they hope to parlay a solid week into a good one.

Straight A’s: Josh Green

Green has been on a heater on offense. Over his last four games, he’s scored over 17 points per game on 58 percent from the field, 52 percent from three, and 100 percent from the free throw line. He has been the player Dallas has needed him to be all year. When he hits threes, he is playable for big minutes. When he struggles, it seems to be because of confidence. The confident shooting is great to see and he has now put together multiple good games with Irving and Doncic in the lineup, which is another step towards establishing a consistent role.

Currently Failing: Size

Between Josh Green, Grant Williams, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Jaden Hardy, the Mavericks have four rotation players who cannot be played with any two of the others because of the size disadvantage. When Milwaukee went with Bobby Portis and Giannis Antetokounmpo down the stretch, Green and Hardaway Jr. got beat on offensive rebounds and post-ups multiple times. It is a roster issue and it makes lineup versatility very difficult. Either at the deadline or over the summer Dallas needs to make a move to get bigger.

Extra Credit: Maxi Kleber

Kleber signed a three-year extension that started with this season. He is making $11 million this year and up until the last three games, he has looked like he is worth zero dollars. However, his health and mobility have somehow reappeared and he looks good again. Scoring 21 points against a very good Bucks team was surprising, but following that up with a 14-point performance was even more astonishing. If Dallas gets this version of Kleber for an extended time, he is a useful player on a playoff team. If he regresses back to his pre-injury form, he is dead money. It’s nice to see him play well, but we are about to see if his run is more than a flash.