The Mavericks were preseason favorites to win the Southwest Division, but they have had tough times. Their division competition in the southwest can’t seem to lose, as the missiles and grizzles were on insanely hot streaks. Is Dallas in danger of losing this division as favorites after closing to win it in the off-season? Let’s discuss.
To say the season has gone sideways for Dallas is an understatement. After losing to the Suns on Monday night on Summer, the Mavericks were in a 0-6 SU and ATS slide in Atlanta on Wednesday. In this stretch, Dallas finished last in the net rating (-10.8) and 29th on the defensive (119.9). While defensive efficiency is a massive issue, this is a team that finished 18th on defensive last season (111.2). Unsurprisingly, the Mavericks would have a problem defensively. It’s terrible to fight at this level, but the problems on offense were the biggest problem.
Dallas was able to level its defense last year by setting the record for offensive efficiency in one season, averaging 115, Scored 9 points per 100 possessions. That was based on 3-point shooting. The Mavericks made the second most frequent 3-point attempts per game (41.3), shooting 36.7 percent as a team. Dallas was the last to appear in the 3-point shoot on Wednesday (32.8 percent) and has taken nearly six fewer 3-point shots per game this season. Luka Doncic is still shooting below 30 percent from depth and his overall efficiency has dropped to 1,135 points per shot attempt (49th percentile at his position).
Defense clearly needs to be improved. However, if that offense lags behind, the door is open to either of the next two teams to steal that division.
The Rockets play a high quality basketball brand, starting with a defense that, according to Cleaning The Glass, ranks fourth in the league (107.9) confirmed. That defense was the driving force behind a 6-0 run by SU and ATS in which they led the league in the net rating (15.1). The missiles dominated the way they protect the rim. They gave in only 59.3 percent within 4 feet while opposing shooters only let in 35.9 percent. The most impressive aspect of this defense, however, was the half-pitch where Houston allows the league’s top 89.6 points every 100 games.
But the offense could keep the missiles from long-term success. Yes, they scored 28 3-point hits against Donner on Monday, but they still rank 21st in offensive efficiency (109.6) and 14th in 3-point shooting (37, 0 percent). Houston depth is not great and shows when John Wall and Christian Wood are resting as the missiles in these possessions have a net rating of -3.0.
Two teams were on 6-0 SU- and as of Tuesday ATS runs. One was Houston and the other was Memphis. Houston was first in the net rating over this distance and Memphis was second (12.7). Before the Grizzlies fell on the Pacers on Tuesday evening, the Grizzlies’ winning streak was built around a defense that is second only to the Rockets in terms of efficiency (103.2). What fascinates about Memphis is its offense – and its future.
The Grizzlies averaged 115.8 points per 100 possessions during their winning streak, the fifth highest rating in the league and only the missiles in that category. And we know Memphis is getting better. Justise Winslow hasn’t played a second in a Grizzlies uniform, and Jaren Jackson Jr. is on his way back from off-season knee surgery. If Dallas doesn’t clean up soon, we could see the Grizzlies up to the southwest.
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