At 31-21, the Dallas Mavericks seem to finally be hitting their stride. Winners of five straight and 6 of 7, the Mavs have an opportunity to go into the All-Star break on a positive note.
The final two games of the season will test the surging Mavs.
Both the Pacers (90.7 pts) and Bobcats (97.1 pts) are in the top four in points allowed.
The Pacers are the number one field goal defense at allowing just 41.4% shooting to their opponents and are number two in 3-pt defense at 33.3%.
The Bobcats are good enough to be ranked number six, allowing just 44.0% to their opponents overall.
The Pacers and Bobcats will also feature plenty of low post play. Roy Hibbert, David West, and Al Jefferson will all test the Mavs ability to defend down low and rebound.
But back to the Mavs’ offense.
With Dirk Nowitzki raining shots from everywhere on the court (except the corners), Monta Ellis slashing through defenses, and Jose Calderon orchestrating the offense and spreading the court, the Mavs have become one of the best offensive teams in the league.
The Mavs score the seventh most points in the league (104.6 points), shoot the fourth best field goal percentage (47.4%), and are the fifth best 3-pt shooting team (37.8%).
We’ll see now how those numbers measure up against these two defenses.
Yes, the Bobcats record isn’t impressive, but the numbers don’t lie, they know how to defend.
The real test will be Wednesday night against the NBA best Pacers.
The Mavs will be on the second end of a back-to-back, so it will be seen how weary the Mavs’ legs are.
It will be interesting to see how Ellis attacks Lance Stephenson, and it will be even more interesting to see if Ellis will go at and attack the 7’2″ wall named Roy Hibbert. Will Ellis be hesitant and settle for the dreaded long jumper or will we see the same Ellis who has opened the floor by getting in the paint and either scoring or dishing it out to the open man?
Will Nowitzki be able to continue his hot-streak and strong play? We know West, Luis Scola, and the rest of the Pacers will try to rough him up and get him out of his rhythm.
Will Calderon be able to find room on the perimeter to launch uncontested shots?
Finally, will the bench, Vince Carter, Devin Harris, Brandan Wright, and DeJuan Blair be able to be a spark in the game?
The Mavs defense has shown some improvement, but we all know that this is still a team that relies heavily on its offense.
If the Offense comes through, the Mavs may find themselves at 33-21 heading into the All-Star Break
The Bobcats and especially the Pacers will test how great this offense actually is.
As they say,
Great Offense Always Beats Great Defense.