Cue the Undertaker memes. Our hand was hovering over, scratch that, cocked back above our shoulders about to smash the panic button on our little Mavericks season, until a classic get-right spot on Wednesday night. Much has been made of Dallas’ pathetic six game skid and 2-9 stretch of games over the past few weeks, but all hope is not lost, and the win against the Hawks may have been all we needed to get this thing back on the tracks. Let’s dig into a few reasons why.
The shots just have to start falling soon
Last year, Dallas was 10th in the league in 3P% at 36.7%. This year, they are dead last at 32.7% For those who are screaming this is a Seth Curry issue, the Sixers were essentially the same type of shooting team last year (9th/36.8% last year to 14th/36.4% this year). For the Mavericks, too many guys are woefully underperforming compared to their career averages.
It’s hard to imagine that a team with largely the same offensive system and talent as last year will continue to get such putrid numbers from their best shooters. If Luka, KP, and Richardson can creep towards their career averages, this will look and feel like a formidable offense once again.
We’re really seeing this team for the first time
***Incredibly small sample size warning*** Maxi is back. The Mavericks were 5-4 with Maxi / without KP, and then COVID struck. Porzingis is clearly knocking off rust, but now that Maxi is back, the entire color of this team looks and feels different. Dallas’ offensive rating since he’s returned has been 115, and in the few previous games before that, it was 105. That 115 number would be a top 5 offense, much more in line with last season’s offense, and cure all of the Mavericks recent woes. Patience is hard when a team as talented as the Mavericks continue to slide down the standings, but it’s way too early to draw conclusions of this team’s potential.
Here comes Kristaps?
Do you remember the Unicorn in the Bubble? The one who averaged 30/10 on 57% True Shooting and the one who was named Second-Team All-Bubble (I still can’t believe that was a thing). Luka can sleepwalk his way to averaging a triple double this season and MVP caliber season again, but everyone knows Porzingis is the key to this team reaching its ceiling. The rust is being knocked off slower than we’d like, but it feels like he’s rounding into form. Shoutout to the great @All_Things_Mavs / @Jimmy_Crowther for this much needed perspective on Zinger’s return. He’s going to be alright, and once he is, the recent skid will be distant memory.
So what now?
No more calls for Carlisle’s head (the Warlock deserves more credit and patience to work things out, and we’ve seen you fools out there.) Let’s let this team cook and jell and see where we are after a few weeks at full strength. @Tankathon says we have the third easiest remaining strength of schedule, and upcoming games against Golden State (2x), Minnesota, Atlanta, and New Orleans may help the Mavs string something together. As dreadful as things have felt, the Mavericks sit a mere four games out of home-court advantage in the playoffs, and though that may be an ambitious target, this feels and looks like a team who’s going to right the ship and head back towards its lofty pre-season expectations. (But if Dallas loses to Golden State tonight, let’s just forget this whole thing, okay?)