How changing the starting lineup has made the Dallas Mavericks a top 5 defense
Every defensive possession must end with a rebound to be considered a success. To start the year, the Mavericks played a small ball lineup with Dwight Powell at the five. Powell has many strengths but being an enforcer down low and a strong rebounder is not his forte. Players like Deandre Ayton and Anthony Davis were eating the Mavericks alive while guards like Zach LaVine could finish at the rim with little to no resistance.
After inserting Willie Cauley-Stein, Maxi Kleber, and now Kristaps Porzingis into the lineup, players will think twice about driving into the paint against the Mavs and their rebounding has improved.
Although it seems like most of the NBA is going small, the best teams have powerful frontcourt players. Having two shot blockers over seven feet on the court at one time has solidified the Mavericks’ identity as a strong defensive team.
Currently, the Dallas Mavericks have three of their best defenders, Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Maxi Kleber, out due to COVID-19 protocols, but the team has not missed a beat. Coach Carlisle continues to show the importance of defensive with his lineup decisions.
Starting players like Wes Iwundu and Josh Green, while leaving Tim Hardaway Jr. on the bench as the sixth man is another example of Carlises making sure that the Mavericks set the tone on defense right away.
Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson, and Rick Carlisle continuously spoke about how important defense would be this season. So far, the players and the entire Mavericks organization have kept their word to their loyal fans.