Following a 104-102 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Dallas Mavericks continue to be one of the hottest teams in the NBA. They’ve now won nine of their last ten games, which is a top three record in the league over that span.
Not only are the Mavs playing the best that they have all season, but they’re playing as good as any team in the entire NBA. There’s still got a long way to go if they’re going to jump the Memphis Grizzlies and become a top four team in the Western Conference, but Dallas is also building more of a cushion ahead of the Denver Nuggets who are just below them.
The schedule ahead is going to be difficult for the Mavericks, as they are set to play four consecutive teams with winning records. This upcoming stretch will include the Toronto Raptors, Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors.
Luckily for the Mavs, three of these four contests will be at home in Dallas. This is key, as the Mavericks have been much better at home (13-8) this season than on the road (12-11) to this point.
Regardless, Dallas is now 25-19 on the season with a large gap between teams below them looking to avoid the play-in tournament. With a firm grasp on the fifth seed in the West at the moment, the Mavs are in a good place.
What’s been the key to their recent success?
Although the Mavericks’ roster is mostly the same as last season, they do have a few players in the rotation that were new entering the 2021-22 season. This included guys like Reggie Bullock, Frank Ntilikina and Sterling Brown, who all play at least 13 minutes per game this season.
Due to this, it took some time for the team to mesh and start playing well together. Additionally, Dallas entered the season with a brand new head coach in Jason Kidd, who’s needed time to implement his system in Dallas.
Take those factors along with players going in and out of health and safety protocols, and it makes sense why the Mavs took nearly half of the season to get going.
Regardless, they’re finally on track and looking as promising as fans could have hoped.
“We are just playing together,” said guard Jalen Brunson following a Jan. 15 win over the Orlando Magic. “I think we are clicking. It has been a little bit of a weird year, but we are clicking at the right time. We just have to keep it going and can’t be satisfied with what we have been able to do these past couple of weeks. We just have to keep pushing the same way we have been.”
For many teams, it takes time to click. The Mavericks are finally getting to that point.
Blessings in Disguise
Through all of the adversity Dallas has faced this season, there’s been good that has come of it. One example of that is the emergence of Jalen Brunson.
Entering the 2021-22 season, he’d largely been known as a bench scorer for the Mavs. However, this season he’s now established himself as a starter. It took a depleted roster and superstar guard Luka Doncic missing time for Brunson to get the opportunity to start, but he took full advantage.
After dominating and leading the Mavericks in the absence of Doncic, Brunson is now a full-time starter. In fact, him being a starter has been a huge piece of the Mavs’ recent success.
Since becoming a permanent starter on this team, Brunson has averaged better than 18 points and 6.5 assists over 19 games.
From there, Marquese Chriss got the opportunity to play for the Mavericks on a 10-day hardship contract. After 12 solid games, he was converted to a full-time NBA contract.
A versatile big, Chriss allows the Mavericks to play unique lineup combinations and gives them a different look on both ends of the floor.
Between Chriss being signed to a two-year deal and Brunson becoming a full-time starter, the Mavericks have found positive things to take away from the early season adversity.