It took a while, but the Dallas Mavericks are getting what they hoped for from Wesley Matthews at a crucial juncture.
With five games left in the regular season the Dallas Mavericks have won four straight and sit at 7th place in the Western Conference. Their four-game streak is the longest active streak in the conference, and a somewhat surprising one as it comes on the heels of a stretch in which Dallas lost 10 of 12.
There are several reasons why the Mavericks have been able to turn things around and insert themselves back into the playoff picture. The schedule has been pretty favorable, the team defense better than at any other point of the season. But while the recent play of J.J. Barea has garnered most of the attention, Wesley Matthews has somewhat quietly stepped up in a big way.
When Chandler Parsons went down to injury, and then Deron Williams, things looked bleak. The Mavericks have been a bit of a disappointment offensively this season, and losing two of their top scorers didn’t bode well for their chances of emerging from their March doldrums.
Barea has certainly been a catalyst offensively, but Matthews has kept the Mavericks competitive by adding some consistent offense to his gutsy defensive performances.
Since Parsons has been sidelined, Matthews has scored double-digits in every game. Eight straight. Over that span he’s averaged 17.6 points (44.6%FG, 49.3% 3P), 3.6 rebounds, and 2.3 assists.
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It’s always nice to have your highest-paid player performing well, especially at such a critical juncture of the season.
The Mavericks will need Matthews to continue this type of production, because things won’t be easy as the schedule winds down. Four of the team’s final five games come against current Western Conference playoff teams, the other against the 9th place Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
The emergence of Wesley Matthews might not result in anything but an early vacation once all is said and done this season, but it has to be encouraging for fans to see him playing big minutes and scoring efficiently, all while putting forth the type of defensive effort the Mavs expected from their big free agent acquisition.