The Dallas Mavericks are 17-16 entering their Christmas Day clash with the Los Angeles Lakers. Superstar Luka Doncic is second in the NBA in scoring and producing MVP-caliber numbers, but the team has underperformed expectations. They are not the same team that reached the conference finals last season. The Mavs have missed Jalen Brunson, and failing to replace him has left Dallas one ball-handler short.
Christmas Day marks a special day on the NBA calendar. The league takes center stage and casual fans finally begin watching. College football has just their bowl games remaining, and the NFL regular season is winding down, which means basketball takes over as the go-to watch for sports fans.
If they have not been paying attention, what do fans need to know about this year’s Mavericks? Here are five things that make this group unique that supporters should be watching closely.
Thing casual fans need to know about the Dallas Mavericks: 5. Free throws are a problem
The Mavs have zero issues getting to the line. They are currently fifth in the NBA averaging 25.5 free throws per game, but Dallas is 26th in percentage at 74.1. It is led by Luka, who is fourth in the NBA with 10.2 free throw attempts per game, but he is connecting at just 74.1 percent.
A few weeks ago, owner Mark Cuban estimated that poor free throw shooting cost the Mavs at least five games (subscription required) already this season, and there is no slowing down. Doncic is shooting just over his career free throw percentage of 73.8, and Christian Wood is second in attempts and shooting 71.0 percent from the foul line, which is also above his career average.
Their inability to sink free throws can make late-game situations where the Mavs are leading hairy, and foul shooting will continue to be an issue for Dallas this season.