With the NBA season well underway, the Dallas Mavericks could feel the pressure mounting. Sitting at 13th in the Western Conference, the talented squad led by Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis is underperforming in a big way. However, the Mavericks ended their 6 game skid with a 122-116 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
This was the Mavericks’ first win since January 22nd. Between that date and this win over the Hawks. Dallas had suffered defeat to the Rockets, Nuggets, Jazz, and Suns (twice). Their average margin of defeat was over 11 points.
As expected from their two stars, Porzingis and Doncic did most of the heavy lifting in tonight’s win. Porzingis finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 50% from the field. Doncic finished just shy of a triple-double with 27 points, 14 assists, and 8 rebounds.
While nearly all of the production came from just two players, the bench stepped up in a big way tonight. Tim Hardaway Jr. and Jalen Brunson combined for 34 points off the bench. Hardaway Jr. shot a red hot 5-10 from three while both players shot over 50% from the field. The efficiency from rotation players was key as that has been an issue for Dallas this season.
Reasons for Mavericks Early Season Struggles
There are two things to attribute to the Mavericks’ issues to start the season. The first is on the defensive end. This season, the Mavericks are allowing the 9th-highest opponent field goal percentage when opponents shoot from 8 feet or less. Porzingis and Maxi Kleber’s defensive presence has been subpar and has allowed for high percentage shots in and around the rim.
Atalanta forward John Collins took advantage of that tonight, finishing with a team-high of 35 points. The rim protection must improve if Dallas intends on competing in the West. When matching up with elite centers like Rudy Gobert and Nikola Jokic, they can’t afford to give up free points every time down the floor.
The second issue has been the perimeter shot. Through 20 games played, the Mavericks rank last in the league in three-point percentage. While they rank in the middle of the pack in frequency, they simply are not converting on the outside shot. Despite the win, their struggles from outside were evident again tonight. Aside from Kleber and forward Dorian Finney-Smith., no other player made more than two from beyond the arc. Porzingis, Doncic, and shooting guard Josh Richardson were a combined 3-18 from three tonight. In a league dominated by the perimeter shot, the Mavericks will need to start knocking shots down to succeed in the postseason.
The Mavericks’ next few games are very manageable. They will play the Warriors twice before facing off with the Timberwolves and then meet the Hawks again. Dallas will hope to string together a few wins over these next few games to help them get back on track.