5 things the Dallas Mavericks need to improve to get back on track

Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks, Luka Doncic / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Thing Dallas Mavericks must improve to get back on track: 4. Focus

Basketball is a game of runs, but Dallas needs to stay focused and locked in throughout the 48 minutes. There have been significant stretches of listless play during this losing streak. The Mavs are not going to have any easy wins this season, so they must stay locked in if they want to get to the playoffs and have the opportunity to make a run.

On Saturday night against the Raptors, Dallas jumped out to a 15-4 lead to start the game, but Toronto took the lead in the second quarter. The Mavs had just 21 points in the third period. On Wednesday night against the Celtics, Dallas allowed 70 first-half points and could not close the gap, despite a strong second half. The Mavericks had an 18-point third quarter and just 41 second-half points in a loss to the shorthanded Nuggets on Nov. 20.

Luka Doncic and company have played a fairly favorable schedule so far, but that has not stopped them from losing to the Pelicans without Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, the Magic without Paolo Banchero, the Wizards without Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, the Nuggets without Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon, and now the Raptors with Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes.

The Dallas Mavericks are 9-9 after 18 games, and it feels like their season could go in any direction. They need to focus and lock in if they want to get back to the postseason just like they did after last year's slow start.