Are the Dallas Mavericks Showing Their True Potential This Week?
By Kohl Rast
The Dallas Mavericks are on a two-game winning streak and have won three of their last four. Are they starting to round the corner as a team, or is this week just a fluke?
This has been one of the more interesting seasons for the Dallas Mavericks overall and questions keep flooding in while answers are much harder to come by. Despite the state of confusion surrounding the team as a whole, the Mavs have put together a heck of a week of basketball, claiming wins over the Milwaukee Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies, and Oklahoma City Thunder, while losing only to the top team in the NBA, the Boston Celtics.
These excellent performances, (including two blowout wins) have been entertaining and eye opening as Dallas has put together multiple team performances on their way to big wins. After the win over the Bucks, people obviously believed that the only reason Dallas won was because of a poor performance by Milwaukee. When the Mavs took the Celtics to overtime two days later, people felt like it was a late game collapse and the Mavs were back to their woeful ways.
Another two days pass and the Mavs win on a buzzer-beater over the Grizzlies. A lucky shot, maybe, but Dallas was clearly the better team on the court the entire game for anyone who was watching. Then, on Saturday, the Mavs turned in their most convincing win of the season, shutting down Paul George and Carmelo Anthony on their way to a blowout victory. This is a different team and their is no denying it yet. Now they just need to keep this team on the court.
So what changes have been made that are making the difference? Are the Mavs finally hitting shots? Has the defense found its place on the team? Is Carlisle’s magic back once again? Here are the three things that I have noticed that should keep the Mavericks competitive going forward.
Maxi Kleber is not just a random insert
It is weird talking about Maxi Kleber as a major asset to the Dallas Mavericks, but over the past five games, he has been just that. Dallas has needed someone to assert themselves as a two-way player in the middle, and Kleber is the first one to do so. Maxi is big enough to not get pushed around by the big boys, but he is quick enough to not get blown past by the faster bigs. He is a nice mix of talent and has complimented Dirk pretty well so far.
Maxi is an all-out hustle player, much like Yogi Ferrell. He may not wow anyone with his shooting or shot-blocking or anything like that, but he is going to fight for a loose ball harder than anyone else on the team. His selflessness has been key over the past five games and we expect to see him as a permanent starter for now. Salah Mejri has become a good backup for him and shows a lot of similar traits, but has not fit in with the rest of the starters quite like Maxi does.
As Maxi gets more comfortable with his shot, the Mavs will be able to utilize him more on the offensive end, but his fighting for offensive boards and his screen setting have both been very important to the team. Things are looking up for the youngster from Germany.
Harrison Barnes is attacking the basket
Everyone knew it wouldn’t take long before Harrison Barnes found his game again and we are finally starting to see what we expected from him this season. In the early games, it was infuriating watching him pull up from 15-20 feet from the basket for a difficult jumper, knowing full well what he can do on the attack.
Now, after these past four games, he is showing that he is willing to fight inside for every basket again. This is what we have been wanting to see because his mix of size and speed make him a matchup nightmare for most opposing teams. Barnes has turned in some of his better performances of the season, nearing a double-double in each of the past 4 games, while shooting the ball at a 46% clip.
Barnes is going to need to stay on the attack for the Mavs to be effective, as his shooting percentage has gone up and he continues to draw more and more double teams. His decision making has never been a concern and the opposing team has paid for their double team regularly over the past week. This will become a norm for the Mavericks offense.
A renewed defensive effort is changing the game for Dallas
More from The Smoking Cuban
- Dallas Mavericks: Tyrell Terry injures groin in summer league loss to Jazz
- Mavericks: How to maximize Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis pairing
- Dallas Mavericks: Did they do enough this offseason to jump into title contention?
- Mavericks: What to watch for as Dallas faces Utah Jazz in summer league
- Dallas Mavericks rumors: Bulls want first round pick for Lauri Markkanen
Dallas has allowed fewer than 100 points in regulation in each of the last 4 games. In fact, all five Mavs wins have come when holding the team below 100 points. Dallas has held opponents to under 100 points 9 times total this season, but with the offense working more in unison now, that is a much more important stat lately.
The numbers don’t show much, as Dallas has been inconsistent in the turnover battle all season, but the big difference is the hustle plays that the Mavs continue to make. Dallas will never have the most athletic team, the biggest team, or the fastest team, but they very well may have the most energetic team in the league. Between Maxi, Salah, Yogi, Devin, and JJ Barea, Dallas is not an imposing team, but a frustrating team.
If the Mavs can keep this tenacious defensive effort going forward, they may be able to make a push in the standings. Will it be enough? It is way too early to tell, but there is more than enough time for Dallas to turn this season around.
Next: Vintage Dirk Leads Dallas Mavericks to Second Straight Victory
Even if you are an advocate for team tank, the Mavs have put together a string of impressive wins that should be appreciated. If things go south again so be it, but for now, the Mavs are winning games and MFFLs should be enjoying every win the team snags.