Dallas Mavericks: 5 things the team needs to make the Western Conference Finals
How can Dallas Mavericks make the Western Conference Finals? 4. Improved Defense
The Dallas Mavericks have already learned that it is hard to win games when you let your opponent easily score. The Mavs are 19th of 22 teams in the bubble in defensive rating per NBA Stats. They will need to be an above average defensive team to move forward in the playoffs.
In losses from Orlando, the Mavericks defense has been poor. Both the Rockets and the Clippers shot over 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three against Dallas. If teams put up those numbers in the playoffs, the Mavs will not be winning any seven-game series. In the loss to Suns, the defense was slightly better, but the Mavericks shot below 20 percent from three.
The improved defense will open up easy opportunities in transition for the Mavs. More easy baskets mean less load on Luka Doncic that will prove valuable late in games. The flashy plays and crazy triple-doubles are much more meaningful when the Mavericks win and improving defensively makes that happen more.
Dallas may face matchup issues, especially against the Clippers. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard can score on anyone, and the Mavs do not have enough physical wing defenders to throw at them. It will be interesting to see how they experiment with double teams and occasional zone defense.