We’ve now hit the point in the NBA season where every win can dictate how a team looks heading into the playoffs.
The Dallas Mavericks are off to a great start.
Of course, this is also the time where overreaction kicks in. However, in the case of the Mavs, what happened on Sunday night in Oklahoma City was no fluke.
The Mavs took it to the Thunder on their home court, and held Kevin Durant to 8-of-20 shooting.
Without question, that was Dallas’ best win of the season. Before the talk of no Russell Westbrook creeps into everyone’s thoughts, a friendly reminder: Oklahoma City was the best team in the league for the two months that it didn’t have Westbrook. Plus, even with the inconsistencies in the lineup, the Thunder are still, arguably, the best team in the Western Conference.
Bravo, Dallas. You have that signature win of the year you’ve been looking for.
Then for the Mavs to follow it up with a win on Monday against the pesky Boston Celtics, the Mavs have finally hit that point where they can be considered a good team.
No, I’m not just basing the win over the Celtics as the reason why Dallas is a good team. As Dallas enters this eight-game home stand, it could not have gone any better. The Mavs are 5-3 so far in this difficult month and are close to reaching that 7- to 8-win mark I projected they would have in March.
The month doesn’t get easier for Dallas, though. Wednesday is a matchup with Minnesota and then Friday is against the Denver Nuggets for the fourth time this year.
If the Mavs can beat the Nuggets, start throwing a party in your living room. There has been no surefire explanation as to why Dallas can’t beat Denver. It has eluded me each game this year, and it eluded me in Denver earlier this month. If we’re looking for a must-win, that game against Denver on Friday is circled with three different colors.
But that win over the Thunder wasn’t an aberration. Dallas showed that it can compete with the best teams in the league. They’ve done it all year. The Mavs beat Indiana twice, took Miami to the wire twice and have now beaten Oklahoma City on its home floor. The only team they haven’t had a chance against was San Antonio, and that could spell problems for Dallas if they meet in the first round.
Nevertheless, Dallas is on to something. Vince Carter has become that Sixth Man that Dallas has desperately needed since Jason Terry left, and has been that third scoring option for the Mavs in the last month. Devin Harris continues to be that X-Factor off the bench as the backup point guard and Brandan Wright has played really well on both ends of the floor these last couple of weeks.
But for the first time all year, there’s a sense of continuity within the Dallas Mavericks organization. They’ve clicked at the right time, and it goes beyond making shots. Dallas gives up the fifth fewest turnovers in the league at 13.1, and in the last eight games have cut that number by at least a half a turnover.
And the Mavs still beat Oklahoma City by 23 points on Sunday after turning the ball over 18 times. Something has to be going right.
Whatever’s going right, and if Dallas keeps doing it for the last month of the season, then maybe they can be that scary low-seed team everyone is talking about.
You can reach Danny Webster on Twitter @DannyWebster21.
Tags: Dallas Mavericks