Why this was an important season for Dallas Mavericks: 3. Found defensive identity
Former head coach Rick Carlisle would often talk about the team needing to improve on the defensive end of the floor, but it never happened. The Mavs finished 21st in defensive rating in his final season in charge, and Jason Kidd knew they had to better on that end of the floor if they wanted to take the next step.
The Mavericks added Reggie Bullock in free agency last summer, but with largely the same personnel, Dallas finished seventh in defensive rating this season. Kidd got the team, including superstar Luka Doncic, to buy into his defensive scheme that limited 3-point attempts and the results speak for themselves.
Dallas advanced to the Western Conference Finals behind their defense. The Jazz had the best offensive rating in the NBA during the regular season, but the Mavs held them to 100 or fewer points in four of the six games. In the second round, Dallas limited the Suns to their three worst scoring performances of the season over the final five games to knock out the top-seed.
Finishing the regular season in the top ten in both offensive and defensive ratings is the hallmark of a championship team. The Mavericks had the offense figured out with Luka Doncic leading the charge, but head coach Jason Kidd brought the defense to Dallas.