Why the Dallas Mavericks will win first playoff series since 2011: 2. Defense
The biggest improvement for the Mavs this season has been their defense. They finished 21st in the league in defensive rating last year at 112.3, and it cratered to 119.7 in the postseason. Former head coach Rick Carlisle talked a lot of defensive improvement, but it just never came as many questioned whether the team had the personnel to be a top ten defense.
When Jason Kidd was hired, he made defense a top priority. He adjusted the scheme and got players to buy in, and the Mavericks have jumped to sixth in defensive rating at 107.7. Yes, they are 4.6 points per 100 possessions better on the defensive end of the floor this year. Dallas has increased their effort and belief in their defense, and it has saved them in multiple games already.
Defense stiffens in the playoffs, and the referees are going to allow a most physical game. Can the Dallas Mavericks carry over their improvements to the postseason? Their defense is no fluke. Kidd was one of the best perimeter defenders in NBA history as a player, and he knows how to create stops. It could be the key to the Mavs winning their first playoff series with Luka Doncic.