The 2022 NBA Playoffs are here and the Dallas Mavericks will open up the postseason against the Utah Jazz at home. What started off as a season of uncertainty, turned into a year of progress and growth.
The team did everything right:
- Earned home court advantage in the playoffs (CHECK)
- Improved their defensive moral as a team (CHECK)
- Found a six man candidate (CHECK)
- FINISHED THE 2022 year with a 35-12 record
However, their biggest challenge looms as the team might have to open up the playoffs without their All-Star Luka Doncic. We all know about his injury against the Spurs, but just how bad is it?
No one really knows except for the man himself.
With Doncic presumably out, it will be up to the rest of the squad to pick up the slack. There is where team chemistry will come into play.
You see against the Jazz on December 25th, the team fell by a mere four points. In that game guard Jalen Brunson finished with 27 points and Frank Ntilikina had 17. One thing to mention is that the Mavs did not have newcomer Spencer Dinwiddie or defensive specialist Dorian Finney-Smith.
Let us fast forward to a game on March 23rd against the Houston Rockets. The team played well as a unit. Together they had 24 assists, 42 rebounds and shot nearly 50 percent combined. Four of the five starters finished with double digit points as Brunson had 28 and Dinwiddie had 26. Oh and who can forget Finney-Smith’s three steals.
In both games, the team played without star player.
This is not the only game where guard Brunson and Dinwiddie shined without Doncic. Against the Sacramento Kings on March 5th the Dallas Mavericks overcame a 19 point deficit. In the contest, both guards above combined for 59 points.
The biggest difference without Doncic is team chemistry and the play of the two guards.
You during the Kristaps Porzingis Era, the Mavs won six games and lost nine whenever Doncic wasn’t on the court this season.
Compare that to Dinwiddie’s presence and some things have changed. During the month of March this season the team played without their euro-sensation and went 2-0. This was all in part to the arrival of Spencer Dinwiddie.
While one can argue that there wins were against non-playoff teams, none of the W’s would be possible without the team chemistry. Had Brunson and Dinwiddie not stepped, the team might have been the fifth best team in the West.
One thing the team has learned is that whenever Doncic is out, the Mavs can rely on other key players to step up to the plate.
If Finney-Smith can continue his defensive magic and Dwight Powell can fight for boards down low then the team had a legit chance to pull off a playoff win at home.
Last season the team was no where near the chemistry from this year. During the 2021 playoffs, the team was out of place. KP did not know what to do in the corner, Brunson was not fully prepared and the team failed to have an effective six-man.
This where this season comes into play. If the team can match their team chemistry then they no doubt have a winning chance.
With or without Doncic Coach Jason Kidd will have the team and look from the team play of other players to step up and take over in a meaningful playoff game.
- Published on 04/15/2022 at 12:01 PM
- Last updated at 04/15/2022 at 12:24 PM