The 2021-22 Dallas Mavericks exceeded expectations, but there’s more work to do

After defeating the Utah Jazz in the first of the playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks 2021-22 NBA season became a success, and anything after that was gravy. After defeating the Suns in seven in the second round, they kept adding gravy to this season, but it all ended in Game 5 at Chase Center against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals.

The Mavs got out of the first round for the first time since they won an NBA title in 2011 and had their highest win total(52) since the 2014-15 season.

With the addition of Jason Kidd as the head coach and 23-year-old Luka Doncic as their star, the future looks pretty bright for the Mavericks. 

“I’m really proud of this team, everybody, every player, every staff member,” Doncic said after their Game 5 loss to the Warriors. “Nobody had us here. But I promise we fought until the end.”

No one had the Mavs in the conference finals, especially after they were 16-18 on December 29 and down 2-0 to the Suns in the second round, but they never gave up.

“To be able to play into May and to make it to the Western Conference finals is a great accomplishment for this team and for everyone, coaching staff included,” Kidd said after the Game 5 loss to the Warriors. “We have to go back, we’ll review the last three series and see where we can get better as coaches, and then we’ll spend time with the players this summer to make sure that they’re working on the right thing.”

The Mavs became a one-star team after trading Kristaps Porzingis away to the Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans before the trade deadline.

It was Doncic and role players, and it worked.

Kidd acknowledged that the Mavs did not have a second star, and he feels if the Mavs don’t add a second star, things still will be good in Dallas next season.

“We didn’t, so-called, have a second star; we had a team,” Kidd said. “Luka got a lot of the attention, but I think when you look at what (Mark)Cuban and Nico(Harrison) will do this summer, and (Michael Finley)Fin, they’re going to look to improve the team. I think that’s just a natural thing in sports that you’re going to try to improve, and if you can, you will, but if you don’t, you have a core here that’s pretty good.”

The Mavs biggest free agent is Jalen Brunson, who had a great season and playoff run. Brunson averaged 21.6 points per game in these playoffs. He’s going to get paid! Maybe Dallas will pay him, or perhaps somebody else will pay, but he’s getting paid in the end. Some believe around $20-plus million a year.

“I think it’s easy; it’s the top priority,” Mavericks GM Nico Harrison recently said about bringing Brunson back. “We’ve got to figure that out. Obviously, we’re not in control of it, but he’s definitely a priority. We want to re-sign him. He knows that we want him back. He’s a big part of our future.”

The Mavs have to find another star to compliment Doncic, but not sure they should pay Brunson. They still have Spencer Dinwiddie and Tim Hardaway Jr., so they can afford to let Brunson go via sign-and-trade, which could get them another piece. 

It should be interesting to see if the Mavs’ success was fool’s gold, and possibly a fluke, like last year’s Hawks, who made it to the Eastern Conference finals but brought everybody back and could not get out of the first round this season. Dallas does not want to be that, so this offseason will be significant. 

Dallas surpassed all expectations this season, but taking that next step won’t be easy.

Mavs’ Kidd: ‘We know going into Golden State it’s a tough place to win, but we’ve won there before’

The Dallas Mavericks kept their season alive after defeating the Golden State Warriors at home 119-109 in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.

Golden State still leads the series 3-1, and Game 5 is Thursday at Chase Center.

Dallas had their largest lead of 29 points in the third. However, the Warriors would cut the lead to eight in the fourth, but the Mavs were able to hold them off.

It was a team effort as the Mavs, who had six players in double figures and had 30 assists, were led by Luka Doncic’s 30 points, 14 rebounds, nine assists, two blocks, and two steals, and Dorian Finney-Smith added 23 points.

They still have to win three more games to win this series, but Doncic still has hope.

“I still believe we can win, you know. Swept or not swept,” Doncic said. “In the end, if you lose, you lose. Don’t matter how many we win. We have to go game by game. We going to believe until the end…

“We got more to do, you know. This is nothing. We got three more. We have to go game by game and believe.”

Finney-Smith felt the Mavs played like a desperate team in Game 4.

“Everybody in that locker room feel like we have more basketball to play,” he said. “We just wanted to get the win by any means necessary, and I feel like we came out desperate that first half.”

It’s a make-or-miss league, and the Mavs made shots Tuesday night as they hit 20 threes for the fourth time this postseason and shot 50% from the floor. 

“Yeah, we’ve felt all along we’re getting great looks,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. “Sometimes they go in; sometimes they don’t in this series so far. It’s a matter about making shots.”

No team has ever come back after being down 3-0, but the message from Kidd is to take it one game at a time.

“We believe it’s just one game at a time,” Kidd said. “We did our part tonight. We found a way to win. The next part is to find a way to win on the road. Again, we can’t get ahead of ourselves. It’s still 3-1. We know going into Golden State it’s a tough place to win, but we’ve won there before.”

The odds are still against the Mavs, but anything can happen.

Notes:

-The Warriors, who had seven players in the double figures, were led by Stephen Curry’s 20 points, marking his 100th 20-point game in the postseason. He became the 16th player to record 100-or-more 20-point games in the playoffs.

Reggie Bullock had 18 points on 6-10 shooting from deep. Bullock tied his career-best of 6 3-pointers, when he had a playoff career-best 21 points (Game 2 at GSW).

Jalen Brunson recorded 15 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists tonight. This was Brunson’s fourth game with 15-5-5 in the postseason, with all of the instances coming this year.

Maxi Kleber went 5-6 off the bench for 13 points, while Spencer Dinwiddie added 10 points and a playoff career-best-tying 8 assists off the bench.

-The game was delayed 16 minutes before the third quarter as water came through the roof at American Airlines Center.

Mavs’ Kidd: ‘It’s the league’s decision to fine, but we’re not going to sit’

On Sunday, the NBA announced that the Dallas Mavericks were fined $100,000 for repeated violations of league rules regarding bench decorum.

According to the league, several players and a member of the coaching staff stood for an extended period in the Mavericks’ team bench area, stood away from the team bench, and were on or encroaching upon the playing court during game action in the Mavs’ 126-117 loss to Warriors in Game 2.

This was the third time Dallas has been fined for breaking the rules regarding bench decorum in these playoffs.

Before Game 3 against the Warriors, Mavs head Jason Kidd responded to the fine.

“It’s the league’s decision to fine, but we’re not going to sit,” Kidd said. “We’re going to cheer. If that’s, I think a positive is that the bench can look at it as they’re donating to a nice charity, which is rare. So that’s cool, right, that money goes to a charity. So for standing, if we get fined, it goes to charity. So it’s a positive. Someone wins.”

It should be interesting to see what the Mavs’ bench does in Game 4 and for the rest of this series. However, based on what we have seen in the playoffs, the league will react if the Mavs’ bench gets out of line.

In total, Dallas has been fined $175,000 for bench violations in these playoffs.

Luka and the Mavs are still confident after Game 1 loss to Warriors

The Golden State Warriors brought the defensive energy in Game 1 of their Western Conference finals series against the Dallas Mavericks. 

Behind the defense of Andrew Wiggins, Golden State held Luka Doncic to 20 points on 6/18 shooting from the floor, including 3/10 from deep. The Mavericks shot only 36% from the field, including 22% from downtown, and they fell to the Warriors 112-87 at Chase Center Wednesday night.

Game 2 is Friday night at Chase Center. 

Golden State led by as many as 30 points and had seven guys in double figures, led by Steph Curry’s game-highs of 21 points and 12 rebounds. 

The Warriors are second in opponents’ field goal percentage(43%) in the playoffs, so you knew they would not make it easy for Doncic and the Mavs. 

“Just make him work, that was the main thing, 94 feet, just make him work, pick him up, make everything tough for him,” Wiggins, who added 19 points, said about guarding Doncic after the win. “He’s a good player, great player, so he’s going to make shots. He’s going to do his thing but just stay on him, make it tough.”

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr added on Wiggins’ defense against Doncic: “I thought Wiggs was fantastic. Doncic is as difficult a cover as there in this league, and we just asked Wiggs to try to hound him and guard him as best as he could, stay in front, and try to keep the pressure on him, and he did a fantastic job. Wiggs is just a huge part of our defense and our team. I thought he was great offensively as well. So great night for Andrew.

Doncic agreed with Kerr and felt the Warriors played well against him on the defensive end, but according to Doncic, he has to be better.

“Yeah, they were doing a great job on me, especially in the second half,’ Doncic said. “But I think I’ve got to be better. That’s on me. As a leader, I’ve got to be better for the whole group, so that’s on me.”

The Mavericks have been in this position before. Dallas lost Game 1 in the first two rounds of the playoffs and trailed 2-0 to the Suns in the second round of the playoffs, so there’s no panic with this team. As he walked off the court at the end of the game, Doncic had a smile on his face.

“Like I say, I said in the Phoenix series, we’re going to believe,” he said. “So the confidence is the same. It’s tough to win every game, so some you’re going to lose. But the confidence stays the same”

Dallas could not make shots, but their head coach Jason Kidd was happy with his team’s looks and is confident they could make those shots in Game 2.

“There were a lot of great looks that just didn’t go down,” Kidd said. “It happens. It’s basketball. Hopefully, we get those same looks in Game 2, and we believe we’ll make them.”

Obviously, this series is far from over, and great players like Doncic find ways. The Mavs have to throw this one away, make adjustments, and get ready for Game 2.

Doncic on Paul: ‘He’s tough, man; he’s a hell of a player’

The Dallas Mavericks have not had an answer for the Phoenix Suns in over two years, and they continued to have no answers for Phoenix on Wednesday night.

After leading 89-86 with over 11 minutes left in the fourth, the Suns went on a 33-9 run to take their largest lead at 122-95 with just under four minutes to go to take Game 2 129-109 at Footprint Center.

Phoenix leads the series 2-0 as the scene shifts to Dallas for Game 3 Friday night.

The Mavs, who have not defeated the Suns since 2019, have lost 11 consecutive games to Phoenix.

Phoenix shot 65% from the field, a new Suns postseason franchise record in a single playoff game. The Suns scored 40 points and shot 84% from the floor in the fourth, and Chris Paul had 14 of his 28 points in the final period.

“Like I always say, just playing the game,” Paul said about the fourth quarter. “Book (Devin Booker) started that third quarter, got us going. You know, I read the game. And other guys on the team made big shots whenever they made a run, just to get us going and get us warmed up into the game. Just feeding off of that.”

Booker, who led the Suns with 30 points, added on Paul: “I remember growing up – I don’t want to take it back to when I was five years old again – but me and my dad watched him play, and he was like, ‘do you see how he makes sure everybody is involved, and then he picks his times when he’s going to take over the game?’, and I’ve just always admired the way he does that. He’s just in control at all times. He’s two, three steps ahead of whatever the other team is doing. And just the leadership, that can never go unnoticed when you’re talking about this man. Just the way he holds people accountable, the will to win. The list keeps going on and on; that’s why he has the nickname (Point God) that he does.”

Luka Doncic led the Mavs with 35 points, and just like everybody else, he was impressed with Paul.

“He’s tough, man; he’s a hell of a player,” Doncic said about Paul. “He’s been in this league a lot of years; he knows what this is about, so he’s very tough. But like I said, we have to do a better job with him.”

Like Game 1, Mavs head coach Jason Kidd says Doncic needs help from others if Dallas wants to compete in this series. 

“He had a great game, but no one else showed,” Kidd said. “We’ve got to get other guys shooting the ball better. We can’t win with just him out there scoring 30 a night. Not at this time of the year, and we’re playing the best team in the league, and so we’ve got to get other guys going.”

The Suns look like the team that won 64 games in the regular season right now, and that team was tough to beat in the regular season, and that team will be tough to beat for the Mavericks. The series is not over, but the Mavs have to find a way to turn things around in Dallas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mavs’ Kidd on Doncic: ‘It looks like he’s been playing this whole series’

In the regular season, Luka Doncic led the Mavs in points, rebounds, assists, and steals per game, and Monday night at American Airlines Center, he led the Mavs in three of those four categories.

Doncic had game-highs of 33 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists as the Mavericks defeated the Jazz 102-77 in Game 5 to go up 3-2 in their best-of-seven first-round series. 

Teams that win Game 5 of a 2-2 best-of-seven series have gone on to win the series 82.2% of the time (180-39)

Dallas led by as many as 20 points in the first half and had their largest lead of the game of 33 points in the third. Doncic, who was in his second game back after straining his calf in the regular-season finale, took over in the third. He scored 19 points, including three made three-pointers.

“He(Doncic) got going there in the third,” Mavs head coach Jason Kidd said after the win. “But Luka, again, for his second game back, it looks like he’s been playing this whole series. His conditioning, his effort on the defensive end, again, as we talked about rebounding the ball, he’s one of the best for us, and he did that for us tonight.”

During Doncic’s big third quarter, the fans were very much into the game, which he discussed post-game.

“It’s amazing,” Doncic said. “It’s one of those feelings that you just can’t describe. The whole arena is cheering for you, for your team. It’s unbelievable. I think the fans were amazing today. They helped us get this win. If it’s not for them, I don’t think we would win the game. They push us up every time we were tired. Our guys were tired, but they push us up, and I just want to thank them.”

Doncic had 30 points and 10 assists in Saturday’s loss to the Jazz, but according to him, he felt a lot better in Monday’s win over Utah.

“Way better than the first game,’ he said. “The first game, I was janky, but I feel better today. I think the first couple games I was tired, but today I was OK. I think the run in the third, I was feeling tired but just getting my air back and hydrated.”

Late in the game, with the Mavs in complete control, Doncic was fouled by Hassan Whiteside. Ultimately, there was some pushing and shoving, and Whiteside and Reggie Bullock would get ejected. According to Doncic, it was no big deal.

“Oh, nothing,” he said. “It’s playoffs; it’s playoffs. There’s always gonna be attention, but it was nothing. I tried to dunk it and wasn’t successful, but it’s the playoffs. These things happen in the playoffs.”

The Mavs are one game away from getting to the second round for the first time since 2011. They were up 3-2 on the Clippers last season and fell short. Maybe, just maybe, they have learned from that experience. 

Game 6 is Thursday night in Utah.

Notes:

-Jalen Brunson recorded 24 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists tonight. This was Brunson’s fifth consecutive game with 20+ points, making him the 7th player in franchise history with five-or-more consecutive postseason games scoring 20+ points.

-Dorian Finney-Smith added 13 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in 41 minutes tonight.

-Jordan Clarkson led Utah with 20 points off the bench.

Mavs’ Kidd on Brunson: ‘He’s showing that he deserves to be paid’

At the end of the season, Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson will be an unrestricted free agent, and Monday’s performance in Game 2 of the Mavs’ first-round series against the Utah Jazz could have earned him a few extra dollars.

Brunson had a career-high 41 points (6-10 3FG), eight rebounds, five assists, and zero turnovers as the Mavs defeated the Jazz 119-104 at American Airlines Center to tie the series at one.

This was Dallas first home win in the playoffs since 2015.

Game 3 is Thursday night in Utah.

Brunson became the first player in team history with 40 points and 0 turnovers in a playoff game, and he joined Luka Doncic and Rolando Blackman as the only Mavericks to record 40-8-5 in a postseason game.

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd believes Brunson has done enough to get paid this summer.

“I don’t know if he needs an agent, but I’ll put my name in the hat,” Kidd said. “It’s not just what he did tonight. It’s not what he’s going to do going forward. He’s already done the work this season. He’s showing that he deserves to be paid. He does his job at a very high level, and he’s a winner. Hopefully, he can pay me for what I just said.”

With Doncic missing his second straight game with a left calf injury, Brunson carried the load and then some.

“I was just playing how the defense was kind of giving me,” Brunson said. “Just seeing how they were defending certain things—just stepping in confidentially into certain shots. I think I started 5-for-5, maybe. Yeah, the 5-for-5 start is great, but I had the same mentality when I was 0-for-5 last game or something like that. The mentality stays the same. You can’t fluctuate whenever he’s in or out. You need guys to make plays. He has a lot on his shoulders. We need guys to get into the paint and make plays to take the extra pressure off of him.”

For now, Brunson and Maxi Kleber, who scored 25 points, including a career-high eight threes, saved the Mavs’ season. 

This series would have probably been over if Dallas had gone down 0-2 heading to Utah for Games 3 and 4.

For now, Dallas celebrates the win and continues to hope they can get Doncic back at some point in this series.

Mavs’ Dinwiddie believes fans should be encouraged how team played in Game 1 against Utah

With Luka Doncic out with a strained left calf, the Mavericks would need others to step up in his absence in Game 1 of the Mavs’ first-round series against the Utah Jazz.

Spencer Dinwiddie would get the start in place of Doncic, and he had post-season career highs with 24 points, four rebounds, and eight assists, and Jalen Brunson also had playoff career highs with 24 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. However, Donovan Mitchell scored 30 of his 32 points in the second half, and the Jazz defeated the Mavericks 99-93 at American Airlines Center to take a 1-0 series lead.

Despite the loss, Mavs head coach Jason Kidd was happy with what he got from Dinwiddie, Brunson, and the team’s defense.

“They were great this afternoon,” Kidd said after the game of his starting backcourt. “Offensively, they found guys [and] got shots, but our defense gave us the chance to win this game. A lot of good, not just from those two, but from the team.”

Kidd believes the way Dallas played against the Jazz without Doncic shows that the Mavs have a good team.

“I thought overall, we slowed the game down and gave ourselves a chance to win without Luka [Dončić], and that really just shows the sign of a good team,” Kidd said.

Dinwiddie added: “Personally, we lost by six; I missed six free throws right, so we are right there. If anything, this should be encouraging for the fan base, in my opinion. We are disappointed in the locker room. This isn’t a game that we felt like- obviously, give them credit-they went out there and won the game.”

Dallas defended well as they held the Jazz below 100 points and created 15 turnovers. Utah was in the top 10 in points per game(113.6 PPG) in the regular season, so holding them to 99 points is a win for the Mavs.

However, Dallas has to get more from their offense, and that could be difficult without Doncic, who, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, may miss Game 2 on Monday, so guys will have to step up. Going down 2-0 would be devastating.

We’ll see how the Mavs respond in Game 2.

Notes:

Reggie Bullock tied a playoff career-best with 15 points and set a new playoff career-best with 6 rebounds.

Dorian Finney-Smith added 14 points (4-7 FG) and 5 rebounds for the Mavericks.

Bojan Bogdanović had 26 points (11-20 FG), 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Today was his fourth career postseason game scoring 25+ points.

Jason Kidd named Western Conference Coach of the Month

Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd has been named the Western Conference Coach of the Month for games played in March and April, the league announced Tuesday.

On Monday, Luka Doncic won Western Conference Player of the Week, and now Kidd gets some recognition from the league.

It marks his fourth career time being named Coach of the Month, after he previously won it three times in the Eastern Conference (January 2014, March 2014, March 2017). Kidd becomes the first Dallas coach to win the award since Rick Carlisle in February 2011.

Kidd led the Mavericks to a 16-5 record in March/April, including victories over Golden State (March 3), Utah (March 7 and 27), Boston (March 13), Brooklyn (March 16) and Milwaukee (April 3). The Mavericks finished as the fourth seed in the Western Conference this season – their highest seed since earning the No. 3 during their championship season in 2011.

Dallas ended the regular season by winning four straight, 7-of-8, 9-of-11, 17-of-22, 19-of-25, 23-of-30, and 36-of-48 to improve to a season-high 22 games above .500 (52-30). The Mavericks recorded their first 50-win season since 2014-15 (50-32) and their most wins since 2010-11 (57-25). They also finished with the fifth-most wins across the entire NBA in 2021-22. When Dallas got to 50-30, it marked its first time being 20 games above .500 since finishing the 2010-11 campaign 32 games above the benchmark.

The Mavericks wrapped up the 2021-22 season allowing the second-fewest points in the NBA (104.7 ppg), their first time in the 42-year history of the franchise finishing better than fourth in points allowed (finished 4th four times: 1988-89, 1989-90, 2006-07 and 2016-17). Dallas also ranked seventh in defensive rating in 2021-22 (109.1), after it finished 21st in the category just a season ago (112.3, 2020-21). It marked the team’s best defensive rating ranking since 2006-07 (5th, 102.1).

The fourth-seeded Mavericks are set to face the fifth-seeded Jazz in their opening-round playoff series. Game 1 tips off on Saturday, April 16 at 12 p.m. CT on ESPN

Mavs’ Kidd on Doncic: ‘We’ve used every noun and adjective to describe his game’

The All-Star break may have come at the wrong time for Luka Doncic. In the last four games, including the Mavs’ 125-118 victory over the Pelicans, Doncic is averaging 41.5 points, 12.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists on 48% shooting from the floor, including 46% from deep.

On Thursday, Doncic scored 19 points in the first and 25 in the third. He finished with 49 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists. The three-time All-Star was also 7/14 from downtown.

Also, in the last five games, Doncic has scored a team-record 199 points, which topped his previous team record of 186 points in a five-game span. 

“Luka set the tone early and often,” Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said. “We can sit here and talk about him all day. The things that he does on the court for himself and his teammates is incredible.

“We’ve used every noun and adjective to describe his game,” Kidd added. “He just gets better.”

Doncic, who is averaging 27.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 9.0 assists per game, is the only NBA player averaging at least 25.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 8.0 assists per contest in 2021-22.

Doncic did it all Thursday night, including getting into with a fan. According to Doncic, the fan was being rude, so he responded.

“He was very disrespectful since the start of the game,” he said. “That’s why I decided to talk back.”

Now, Doncic gets ready for his third All-Star game in Cleveland this weekend, but more importantly, Dallas(35-24) is 19-6 in the last 25 games and is now a season-high 11 games over .500. As they head to the All-Star break, Dallas is now the fifth seed in the West and moving up the standings. Hopefully, for Dallas, they can keep up their winning ways in the second half of the season.

When they return from the break, the Mavs, who are 2-0 on their current five-game road trip, head to Utah to battle the Jazz. 

Listen below as Kidd talks Doncic, and the Mavs’ win over Pelicans: