Freeman Cebu Sports

Mavs contending for another title

NBA BUZZ - Bobby Motus - The Freeman

Talk about Dallas basketball and it’s Luka Doncic and his backcourt partner Kyrie Irving.  Currently at sixth place in the Western Conference standings with a 33-24 win-loss record and riding on a 7-game winning streak before losing to the Indiana Pacers early Monday morning, the Mavericks not only relied on their scoring duo but also on their defensive rotation.  A nice development Mavs fan and fellow sportswriter Edri Aznar really like.

Doncic had improved as an outside shooter, sometimes from a ridiculous range.  It forces defenders to stick to him thus opening scoring opportunities for teammates.  Irving continues to dazzle with his highlight reel plays.

In the 7-game win streak, Doncic almost averaged a triple double – 31.3 points, 10.1 rebounds, 9.4 assists and 1.9 steals.  The latter stat says a lot on his improved defense.  Irving averaged 27 points, 5.6 rebounds, 6 assists and a steal.   Clearly, the duo had been dominating the Mavs offense, twice combining for 70 points.

The trade for Daniel Gafford and PJ Washington improved their interior defense and they can use several rotation options with big men Dereck Lively II, Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell, Jr., thus giving the team versatility in defense and scoring.  Former Slam Dunk champion Derrick Jones, Jr. is playing bigger than his 6-5 frame, often slam dunking his way over taller opponents.

Gafford was brought in to help Lively in the middle.  Washington was on the team’s radar for some time as they needed someone to take over Grant Williams at power forward who had regressed.  Both had been great at both ends of the court.

In four games with the Mavs (prior to the Indiana loss), Gafford started in two and averaged a solid 12.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2 blocks.  Washington started in 3 games and in their game against the San Antonio Spurs, was particularly effective in making Victor Wembanyama work hard for his points.

The backcourt usually has Josh Green paired with either Doncic or Irving and he has been an offensive asset for the team averaging 9 points.  He’s also a valuable defensive piece using his quickness in making steals.  Aside from Green, the Mavs also have productive backup guards in Dante Exum, Jaden Harvey and guard/forward Tim Hardaway, Jr.

Coach Jason Kidd has multiple lineup options with players not named Luka or Kyrie stepping up big time.  A situation coaches would gladly like to have.  This could lead Dallas to their second league championship.  Kidd played for the 2011 Mavericks title team.

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