Mavs Defense is Starting to Slip

Luka Doncic

Getty Dwight Powell talks to Luka Doncic during a game against the Sacramento Kings.

Early in the 2021-22 season, the Dallas Mavericks were winning games by playing outstanding defense. However, more recently their defense has slipped quite a bit, resulting in them being among the worst teams in the NBA on that end of the floor.

Through the first four games of the season, the Mavs were nearly a top-ten defensive team. In their last five games, they’ve been a bottom ten team on that end of the floor.

Dallas has faced injuries, most notably with Kristaps Porzingis who missed a stretch of five games over the last couple of weeks. Perhaps he can help them get back on track going forward.

The Mavericks will have a great opportunity to turn up their defense tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans, who have won just one of their first ten games this season.

How much worse has the Dallas defense gotten recently?

First Four Games

Through the first four games of the season, the Mavericks were 3-1, sitting among the top ranks of the Western Conference. Over this stretch, they were 11th in the NBA in defensive rating (103.8) and were winning games on that end of the floor. 

“We just tried to get a little physical,” said Jalen Brunson after a defensive-minded comeback win against the Spurs. “I was trying to mess up their rhythm a little bit. It is hard to do against them because they move the ball so well and play so unselfishly. They hit tough shots, so even when we played solid defense, they still made shots. But we just found ways.”

Through those four contests, they held their opponents under 100 points twice, which has been a huge recipe for success in Dallas this season. They’ve only done this three times all season, but haven’t lost when it happens.

Through these first four games of the 2021-22 season, the Mavericks’ opponents were shooting just 43.6% from the floor, which contributed to holding teams under 100 points.

Last Five Games

Since those first four games, things have fallen off for the Mavs on the defensive end of the floor. While it’s still a solid record, they’ve gone 3-2 through the last five games. 

Their defensive rating fell to 109.2 in these five contests, which is 22nd in the NBA over that span.

Over this timeframe, Dallas has also struggled in holding their opponents under 100 points. In fact, they’ve allowed opposing teams to score more than 100 points in four of the last five games. The one game in which they did hold a team under 100 was against the Sacramento Kings, in which they pulled out a victory.

“Again, our defense, to hold one of the top 10 teams in offense tonight at nine points is something those guys take pride in,” said Doncic following that win over the Kings. “Our defense gave us the opportunity to win here at home against a team that can put up points in a hurry. As much as we like the wide open looks that we like on offense, they’re going to fall, but again that start just shows the character we have in that locker room. They paid attention to detail and got off to a good start.”

Additionally, they’ve allowed teams to shoot much better from the floor, with opponents shooting 47.4% over the last five games. Although it could be teams starting to figure out their defensive schemes, something has to change for Dallas.

This Mavericks team will heavily rely on defense if they’re going to make a splash in the postseason, meaning they’ll need to turn things back around as the season goes on.

Read More