The Dallas Mavericks are clinging to a spot in the Play-In Tournament after an ugly win over the Spurs on March 15 without Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and Tim Hardaway Jr. because of injuries. Dallas had five players score in double figures on Wednesday night as they overcame a sloppy game and multiple massive late game blunders to get the much-needed victory.
The Mavericks have had three significant issues all season, and they are tied together. Dallas cannot defend, rebound, or protect the rim. Those have gotten worse since trading for Kyrie Irving. The eight-time All-Star is one of the most skilled offensive players in the world, but he won’t be garnering any All-Defensive votes, and the Mavericks dealt arguably their best defender to Brooklyn to acquire Kyrie.
The Mavs are currently eighth in the Western Conference and just 1.5 games ahead of 11th and a place in the lottery, but what if the standings were based solely on defensive rating? Here is a look at where Dallas would stand, and what it could tell fans about the West.
NBA Standings based on defensive rating:
1. Memphis Grizzlies (109.8)
2. Phoenix Suns (112.1)
3. Oklahoma City Thunder (112.6)
4. New Orleans Pelicans (112.6)
5. Minnesota Timberwolves (112.8)
6. Los Angeles Lakers (113.2)
7. LA Clippers (113.4)
8. Golden State Warriors (113.7)
9. Denver Nuggets (113.7)
10. Dallas Mavericks (115.5)
11. Utah Jazz (115.7)
12. Sacramento Kings (115.9)
13. Portland Trail Blazers (117.1)
14. Houston Rockets (118.0)
15. San Antonio Spurs (119.2)
The hallmark of a contending team is finishing inside the top ten in both offensive and defensive ratings. Exactly zero teams in the West are inside the top ten in both on the morning on March 16. The Grizzlies (3rd), Suns (6th), Thunder (9th), and Pelicans (10th) are inside the top ten in defensive rating with the Kings (1st), Nuggets (2nd), Jazz (6th), Mavericks (7th), Blazers (8th) qualifying in offensive rating. The closest team to the top ten in both is, you guessed it, the Oklahoma City Thunder who are 12th in offensive rating.
Dallas is 23rd in the league in defensive rating, but tenth in the Western Conference. It speaks to how wide-open things are heading into the playoffs. The Mavs need to just find a way into the dance, and they will have a chance to make noise. No team can get stops in the West, and Dallas can score with the best of them behind Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.
1. Milwaukee Bucks (109.7)
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (109.8)
3. Boston Celtics (111.1)
4. Chicago Bulls (111.9)
5. Miami Heat (112.2)
6. Philadelphia 76ers (112.5)
7. New York Knicks (113.4)
8. Brooklyn Nets (113.5)
9. Toronto Raptors (113.6)
10. Washington Wizards (114.1)
11. Orlando Magic (114.3)
12. Charlotte Hornets (114.7)
13. Atlanta Hawks (115.0)
14. Indiana Pacers (115.9)
15. Detroit Pistons (117.2)
Three teams in the East are in the top ten in both. The Cavaliers, Celtics, and Sixers all make the cut, and the Bucks have dealt with injuries to key players all season. If Milwaukee is healthy in the postseason, that is a strong top four, and the winner should be a strong favorite to take home the title at the start of the NBA Finals.
It was surprising to see the Bulls fourth in defensive rating. They are known as an offensive team, but Billy Donovan has them playing sturdy defense. Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan just need to get the offense figured out in Chicago.
Dallas Mavericks must up their defense if they are going to make a run
115.5 is a bad defensive rating, but they have allowed 117.5 since Feb. 6 when they traded for Kyrie Irving. The Blazers, Rockets, and Kings are the only three teams in the West worse than Dallas since that date. The Mavericks reached the conference finals on the back of their defense last season, and they must be better moving forward if they are even going to make the playoffs.
The Dallas Mavericks have a massive game on Friday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers. There are playoff and tiebreaker implications in the contest, and it is a must-win for both teams. Will Luka Doncic or Kyrie Irving be back for that game? Stay tuned for all the latest.