Key to Dallas Mavericks playoff success: 5. Rebounding and rim protection
When the Mavs traded Kristaps Porzingis to Washington for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, it left them a bit thin on the front line. The Unicorn was the team’s best rim protector, and Boban Marjanovic became the only player on the roster listed taller than 6’10.
The Mavs are likely to embrace small ball in the playoffs with Luka Doncic, Dorian Finney-Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jalen Brunson, and Reggie Bullock playing the most minutes. Dwight Powell and Maxi Kleber will see time at center, but Dallas plans on downsizing and spreading the floor in the postseason.
Will they be able to rebound and defend the paint well enough to advance? Luka Doncic is one of the best rebounding guards in the league, and the rest of the Mavericks are going to have to box out and compete hard on the glass for Dallas to be successful. Challenging at the rim will be a team effort too with Luka, Doe-Doe, Kleber, and Powell rotating into the paint to challenge shots, depending on the situation.
Kleber’s shooting slump down the stretch further complicates this issue for the Mavericks. He is strictly a spot-up shooter on offense, but those attempts are not falling which has Kleber not confidently firing when open. The 6’10 big man is the team’s best rim protector, but he will need to knock down wide open shots to stay on the floor. Can Dallas rebound and protect the rim well enough to advance, especially if his funk continues?