Biggest key to Mavericks making NBA Finals run is abundantly clear

Dallas Mavericks v Sacramento Kings
Dallas Mavericks v Sacramento Kings / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The Dallas Mavericks have gone 8-2 over their past 10 games. In two weeks, the team went from being a bottom-eight team in the Western Conference to sitting as the fifth seed. Dallas clinched a top-10 seed Thursday guaranteeing them a play-in seed or higher.

Dallas also returned to their winning ways on Thursday.

They secured a 109-95 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday. This was much much-needed victory as the Mavs had their seven-game winning streak snapped on Tuesday in a loss against the Golden State Warriors.

Mavericks' 3-point shooting will be key for late playoff run

One reason Dallas turned things around Thursday, was due to their 3-point shooting. The Mavs shot 36.7 percent from behind the arc and knocked down 18 threes. P.J. Washington stole the show as he went 5-7 from behind the 3-point line. Kyrie Irving also joined in shooting 42.8 percent from long range.

This differs from the Warriors game when multiple players struggled to get hot. Washington shot 30 percent against Golden State and struggled to knock down open opportunities, especially late in the game. Tim Hardaway Jr. also found it difficult as he went 1-4 from downtown.

3-point shooting will play a big role for Dallas if they hope to make a deep playoff push, and Washington and Hardaway Jr. in particular that Jason Kidd listed as players who make the game easier when they are shooting well. Currently, the Mavs convert 39.3 percent of their shots from the 3-point line while having the second-most 3-point attempts in the league.

The issue? Dallas ranks 12th in the league when it comes to converting long-range attempts.

Teams ranked ahead of Dallas include the Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Boston Celtics. All of the teams listed are legit title contenders. Dallas will likely need to get hot from long range if they want to remain competitive in the playoffs, but it doesn't remain as big of a necessity as it once was due to Dallas' defensive improvements.

For example, 3-point shooting was an issue Dallas struggled with against the Boston Celtics back on March 1. The Celtics lit up Dallas, shooting 48.8 percent from the 3-point line. In comparison, the Mavs knocked down 26.5 percent of their long attempts. If the Mavericks can get hot shooting, it is without a doubt that they can become one of the premier offenses in the league.

Look back at the Mavs' game last week against the Sacramento Kings. The team was tied with one minute left in the game. Dallas had also been scoreless in the final two minutes. However, guard Dante Exum broke the curse when he hit a 24-foot jumper to win the game.

So, if Dallas hopes to compete with some of the best teams in the league, they may need to shoot well from the 3-point line. There's no question the Mavs have sharpshooters that can knock down the long-range ball, and doing it in the playoffs could be monumental for this team. For instance, Exum is knocking down 51.6 percent of his attempted 3-pointers and has improved tremendously as a shooter. Irving too is shooting well knocking down 41.3 percent of his shots while Luka Doncic is hitting 38.2 percent of his looks from long range and his improvements as a shooter off the catch make this offense lethal.

If Dallas can stay hot from long range, then the sky is the limit.

Stay tuned for all the latest on the Dallas Mavericks and their push to improve their playoff positioning.