Dallas Mavericks notice there’s blood in the water

Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)
Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Mavericks sense weakness and are no longer content ‘just being here’

The Dallas Mavericks could have been happy just being here. After finishing the previous season 33-49, just making the playoffs was seen as a significant advancement. When you consider the youth of the roster, incremental improvement is about all you could expect from the 2020 version.

But Dallas skipped a few of those steps and took a huge leap forward in Year 2 of Luka Doncic. Matched with Kristaps Porzingis, Doncic became a legit MVP candidate in 2020, and guided his team to a .573 win percentage (major improvement over last season’s .402). Suddenly the simple goal of just making the postseason was elevated…

When the season restarted under the bubble, the Mavs had their eyes set on a higher goal than just making the playoffs. The Mavs owned the seventh seed, but they were within just a couple games of moving into the top-4.

After a couple painful losses to key opponents, the hope of improving in the standings vanished and a playoff match-up against the Western Conference favorite, Los Angeles Clippers, became apparent.

Expectations quietly shifted back to their original success benchmark of “just making the playoffs”. To expect advancement would be unfair since the Clippers have two elite NBA players (including possibly the best player) and the deepest roster in the league. They also had a pretty compelling success rate against the Mavs this season.

All of that changed once the series began.

No longer were the Dallas Mavericks content with just being there or just happy to get postseason experience. Not when they proved so much in their Game 1 loss.

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Game 1 against the Clipps proved the Mavs could overcome a significant deficit against the best team in the league. It showed them the Clippers were no longer their boogie man and like everyone else in the league – beatable.

While that first game didn’t end in victory, it ignited the Mavs. Given the extremely suspicious circumstances that shifted Game 1 in LA’s favor, blood began to boil in Dallas. If not for a couple suspect calls (and Kristaps Porzingis’ ejection) the Mavs would have been well positioned to steal Game 1. But if there was ever such a thing as a moral victory, this was it. The Dallas Mavericks sensed there was blood in the water and the Clippers were mortals after all. Like a frenzy of sharks the entire Mavs team came out on Wednesday firing.

Said Porzingis:

"“We knew after the first game that we were right there and we can compete with, probably one of the favorites to win it all.”"

Another brilliant performance from Luka, an extra edge to KP, and a clinic from the bench put Dallas in the driver’s seat all game. Luka only played 28 minutes (fifth on the team) yet the Mavericks were able to easily cruise to victory, 127-114 evening the series 1-1.

None of this means the Mavs are going to win the series, mind you. The Clippers are still the most talented team in the league and the Mavs are still significant underdogs. But there’s blood in the water and the Dallas Mavericks are swarming.

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Feeling you can beat the best is different from knowing you can beat the best. The Mavs now know they can beat the Clippers. Dallas felt like they were the better team both games thus far and are energized by it.

  • Published on 08/20/2020 at 12:01 PM
  • Last updated at 08/20/2020 at 08:36 AM