Dallas Mavericks rising up boards and into contender status

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Mavericks aren’t quite contenders, but they’re close. Even before Monday night’s enormous win over the fourth seeded Jazz, the Dallas Mavericks were ranked sixth in The Athletic’s recent power rankings.

With wins over over the Lakers, Warriors, and now Jazz, the Mavs are proving they’re a team to be taken seriously in the West. Following the Porzingis-Dinwiddie trade, Dallas has turned up the volume at both ends of the court.

Already a top-5 defensive team, Dallas has sprung up the rankings in offense as well. Over the past 16-games they’re top-3 in offensive efficiency and they  have their newest additions largely to thank for it.

The Dallas Mavericks have won 11 of their last 13 games making them one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now.

The win over the Jazz gives Dallas their 40th win of the season and sets them on pace for 50-win territory. In case you’re wondering, the last time Dallas has touched 50 was the 2014-15 season.

79. . 40-25. Previous: 10th. Dallas Mavericks. 6. team

Even without their No. 2 weapon, Jalen Brunson, Dallas pulled out a win against the Jazz in fairly convincing fashion. Luka Doncic posted 35, Spencer Dinwiddie added 23, and Dorian Finney-Smith put up a big 21.

Spencer Dinwiddie has been an enormous addition to the Dallas Mavericks. Over the last six games he’s posted 134 points, his best six-game stretch since his breakout campaign in 2019-20.

Dinwiddie’s ability to mesh with the team has been key to the Dallas Mavericks’ success. From Day 1 the Mavs embraced and encouraged Dinwiddie, and the new Mav has responded with arguably the best basketball of his career.

Asked why he wasn’t actively shooting and didn’t score his first basket until after the first quarter, Dinwiddie responded, “Luka was on a heater. He was hot…get out of that mans way.”

But it’s not just the newest Mav making a difference, it’s also the old guard elevating their games. Jalen Brunson has been enjoying a career year and his injury that kept him from playing Monday isn’t expected to be a long-term issue.

The three ball handlers make Dallas a formattable opponent that can create anywhere and never has to slow down. Having all three available is critical to Dallas’ success going forward.

Another critical component of the 2022 Dallas Mavericks is Dorian Finney-Smith. Dodo has been a lock-down defender and critical 3-and-D wing for the Mavs this season. He’s also playing the best ball of his career and is in the conversation for postseason defensive awards.

The Mavs are now just half a game behind the Jazz for 4th in the standings and a postseason match-up between the two seems like a distinct possibility.

Fan expectations are starting to elevate in DFW. Only a couple months ago another first round exit looked like a foregone conclusion, but that’s no longer the case given the level of ball the Mavs have been playing as of late.

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Are the Dallas Mavericks a championship caliber team? No, probably not, but they are no longer a fringe team and have clearly taken a big step up in their game play and that should be celebrated.