Takeaway from Dallas Mavericks win over Hawks: 5. Defense
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle has been starting Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith, and Maxi Kleber next to his two stars because it gives the team its best mix of defense and floor spacing. Tim Hardaway Jr. played over 30 minutes as the sixth man on Wednesday night. Carlisle appears committed to giving six players 30-plus going forward.
Trae Young finished with 21 points, but it took a late fourth-quarter flurry to get there. The Mavericks held the Hawks All-Star in check almost the entire night. They were doubling him to get the ball out of his hands, and Dorian Finney-Smith used his size to make life difficult on Young.
The Mavs defense had moments on Wednesday night. They held the Hawks to 22 points in the first quarter. Dallas created 16 turnovers, but only scored 13 points off them. Coach Carlisle has placed a massive emphasis on defensive improvement this season, and fans saw flashes on Feb. 3.
Expect the Mavericks to continue to improve on that end of the floor as the season progresses. Can they be top ten? That is the goal. Keep an eye on how the Mavs fare the rest of the way.
Next: No. 4