Dallas Mavericks advantage over Denver Nuggets: 1. Red hot role players
Given the Mavericks and Nuggets meet up in the playoffs, it is undeniable that Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic will be the stars in the spotlight. If history is any indication, their success against each other will draw out the biggest defensive adjustments.
That’s where the Mavericks co-stars step in. Guys like Josh Richardson and Dwight Powell have had recent stretches of much-improved play. Tim Hardaway Jr. cannot miss over the last five games. Richardson dropped 20 points in 25 minutes in a win over Cleveland on May 10.
Without Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks didn’t have enough help for Doncic in last year’s playoffs. Maxi Kleber became ice cold from three, Delon Wright struggled off the ball, and nobody was able to step up and help carry Dallas. If Porzingis plays, the Mavs gets an extra big to throw at Jokic. If he doesn’t, guys like Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell will have to play some of the best basketball of their careers for Dallas to advance.
Jokic will be unstoppable with his merciless dominance and shooting ability. He doesn’t chuck up a ton of threes, but when he does he’s good for about 40 percent of them. Dallas is one of the better teams in the league at defending the three, so throwing guys like Richardson and Josh Green on the perimeter can limit Denver’s offense to forcing shots in the paint.
Speaking of everyone’s favorite rookie, Green has become an electric spark off the bench for Dallas. He’s been given a hefty amount of Josh Richardson’s minutes recently and seems to be an overwhelmingly net positive on both ends whenever he steps on the court.
Dallas will desperately need guys like Green to step up and grab offensive boards to create second-chance opportunities. Denver is a top-six team in the league when it comes to second-chance points. Jokic is the prime component of that. All Dallas can do is try to keep up as they don’t have anyone who can rebound at Jokic’s level consistently.
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