The Dallas Mavericks are sitting at 32-29 one game after the All-Star break, and the team is in almost the exact position as last year.
They are in sixth place in the West and are one game back from the fourth seed and gaining homecourt advantage in the first round of playoffs. Last year, they were sitting at 35-25 one game after the All-Star break, held the fifth seed in the West, and were two and a half games outside of homecourt advantage.
Both scenarios are scarily similar, and the similarities don't end there.
Dallas Mavericks are in a make-or-break situation following All-Star break once again
For the second straight year, the Mavericks made a major trade right before the deadline that altered their overall identity.
Last season, the Mavericks sent Kristaps Porzingis and a second-round pick to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans. This trade ended the Luka Doncic-Porzingis era and flipped a new page for the Mavericks.
Following the All-Star break, the Mavericks went 17-6 and finished fourth in the West. They were clawing at the heels of the Golden State Warriors to finish the season, but the Dubs edged them out by one game to snag the third seed. Dinwiddie was exactly what the Mavericks needed as he helped the Mavs reach the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2011.
This season, the Mavericks made another game-changing move as they sent Dorian-Finney Smith, Spencer Dinwiddie, two second-round picks, and a first-round pick to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Kyrie Irving and Markieff Morris. This trade finally landed a second true superstar next to Doncic and helped bolster the roster for the playoff push over the next six weeks.
The Mavs lost two starters in this trade but brought in an All-Star starter with boundless experience in the playoffs. Irving has an NBA Championship, three NBA Finals appearances, and has played in 74 playoff games in his career.
Irving immediately became a top-two player on the Mavericks and gave them a much-needed go-to scorer not named Luka Doncic.
The Mavericks have 21 games remaining and just like last year, they have a chance to make a run at a ring and completely turn their season around.
Although neither season should be considered a failure before the All-Star break by any means, they now have a chance to make some noise in April, May, and even June. Last season the top two teams record-wise after the All-Star break were the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks. Both teams made the conference finals, and the Celtics lost to the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
This stat alone is exactly why the next 21 games could make or break the Mavericks' season.
They could get hot and win over 70 percent of their remaining games like last year and grab homecourt advantage in the first-round of the playoffs, or they could crumble and miss the postseason entirely. The next two months are crucial for the Dallas Mavericks, and they will affect the team's future much more than people think. If the Mavs make a deep playoff run, they probably have a better chance of bringing Irving back in free agency. If not, he has more reasons to walk and sign elsewhere.
The Dallas Mavericks will look to continue their undefeated start following All-Star break on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 CT against the Los Angeles Lakers in Dallas at the American Airlines Center. Do not miss it.