Mavs Playoff Watch: Week 11 (12/26-1/1)

To start the new year the Mavericks remain under .500 at 17-19.  They are 4 games back of the Southwest Division lead, 3 games back from the 8th seed in the West, and 7.5 games back from the 1st place team in the West.

This week went just about as you could have predicted for the Dallas Mavericks.  They won all of their home games, moving to 15-3 at home, and lost all of their road games, now 2-16 outside of Dallas.  That is just a ridiculous split that has to give at some point, hopefully in the form of more road wins as they head to the east coast this week for a trio of games.


The Mavericks remain 4th in the division, same as last week, but has dropped from 2.5 games back in week 10 to now being 4 games back.

Houston has skyrocketed since a few weeks ago, rushing to the head of the pack in the Southwest Division.  They are 9-1 in their last 10 games and have won 5 straight.  Even with Chris Paul on the shelf, the Rockets have returned to their 2017-2018 form behind the stellar play of James Harden.

Southwest Division W L W/L% GB
Houston Rockets (4) 21 15 0.583
San Antonio Spurs (8) 21 17 0.553 1
Memphis Grizzlies (10) 18 18 0.5 3
Dallas Mavericks (12)  17 19 0.472 4
New Orleans Pelicans (14) 17 21 0.447 5

Similarly, the Mavericks hold onto the same 12 seed that they did last week but have dropped from 2.5 games back to now being 3 games back of the final playoff spot.

Western Conference W L W/L% GB
Denver Nuggets (1) 24 11 0.686
Golden State Warriors (2) 25 13 0.658 0.5
Oklahoma City Thunder (3) 23 13 0.639 1.5
Houston Rockets (4) 21 15 0.583 3.5
Portland Trail Blazers (5) 22 16 0.579 3.5
Los Angeles Clippers (6) 21 16 0.568 4
Los Angeles Lakers (6) 21 16 0.568 4
San Antonio Spurs (8) 21 17 0.553 4.5
Sacramento Kings (9) 19 18 0.514 6
Memphis Grizzlies (10) 18 18 0.5 6.5
Utah Jazz (11) 18 20 0.474 7.5
Dallas Mavericks (12)  17 19 0.472 7.5
Minnesota Timberwolves (13) 17 20 0.459 8
New Orleans Pelicans (14) 17 21 0.447 8.5
Phoenix Suns (15) 9 29 0.237 16.5

Game Recaps

12/26 – New Orleans Pelicans – Win 122-119:  This was a very close, hard fought game where the largest lead by either team was only 8.  Maxi Kleber moved into the starting lineup with Luka Doncic running point.  Luka handled it very well, finishing the game with 21 points, 10 assists, and 9 rebounds in 31 minutes of play, including 3 clutch free-throws in the last minute to ice the game.  Jrue Holiday, member of last year’s all-defensive team, tried all he could to stop Luka but to no avail.

This game was a Mavericks block party!  13 Mavs blocks is the highest mark they have put up since 2013.  Maxi Kleber had 6 blocks himself, putting together another very impressive all-around game.  He protected the rim, knocked down threes, and flew by Anthony Davis several times on the perimeter with his pump-fake and drive.  Maxi Kleber is a restricted free agent this offseason at age 27.  Right now he is averaging 6 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game over 18 minutes.  If you stretch those numbers over 36 minutes you get a very respectable 12 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks.  Maxi is an elite rim protector who has already shown more improvement offensively in his 104 games with the Mavericks than Dwight Powell has in his 281 games with the team.  It still surprises me that Maxi is only getting 18 minutes a game but perhaps the Mavericks are trying to contain his value in his restricted free agency season.

12/28 – At New Orleans Pelicans – Loss 112-114:  This was the return of Dennis Smith Jr, but by the time the night was over it was simply the Anthony Davis show.  Luka Doncic was great again, 34 points including 7 three pointers, but this duel belongs to Anthony Davis with 48 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.

The Mavs actually held a 12 point lead at halftime but came out of the locker room flat and allowed the Pelicans to draw within two by the time the 4th quarter started.  Then with 44 seconds to go it was Anthony Davis hitting a go-ahead fall-away jumper to finish things off.

12/30 – Oklahoma City – Win 105-103:  With just 1:12 left in the game, the Thunder were up 3 and had the ball.  According to the Win Probability function on ESPN, the Thunder had an 82.4% chance of winning this game.  Then it was a Harrison Barnes steal on the Westbrook pass, which led to two Barnes free-throws.  The Thunder wasted as much time as they could on offense the next possession and Westbrook wound up launching a 23 foot jumper.  Dennis Smith Jr take the ball up the court with 30 seconds to go and catches the Thunder defense sleeping and darts to the basket for the go-ahead score.  It was then Dennis Smith Jr with the great defense, forcing PG13 into a tough 19 foot jumper that was swallowed up by DeAndre Jordan off the glass.  Dennis Smith Jr made the go-ahead basket on one end and then came up with a defensive stop against an All-NBA player and MVP candidate, Paul George, on the other end.  It was a great team win, both Luka and DSJ worked perfectly together down the stretch to get the win.

12/31 – Oklahoma City Thunder Loss 122-102:  This second game with OKC was a back-to-back, on the road, against a team you just stole a game from.  When the game started it looked like the Mavericks were already thinking about their New Years Eve plans, allowing the Thunder to jump out to a 29-12 lead.  After going just 4-22 in the game before, Russell Westbrook rebounded in a big way putting up 32 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists to go along with 4 steals.  In fact, the Mavericks turned the ball over 27 times in this game compared to just 10 for OKC.  The Thunder did not shoot the ball great but their smothering defense was too much for the Mavs as they continued to throw the ball away all game long.

There was one fun moment in the game when Harrison Barnes was on FIRE from 3 point range at the end of the 3rd and start of the 4th.  in the 5 minutes from 4:16 left in the 3rd to 10:59 left in the 4th, Harrison Barnes poured in 6 threes and 20 points.  He was also ripping down rebounds and getting after it on defense.  This is the Barnes we have all wanted to see!  He is shooting great this year from downtown, sitting at 43% on threes.  The problem is, he is also shooting 43% on twos.  When you look at his shot breakdown you can see he is great at getting to the rim and great at shooting the long ball.  Just like all of the analytics say, it may be time for HB to put the mid-range game to rest.

Shot Distance FG FGA FG% eFG%
At Rim 60 95 63% 63%
3 to <10 ft 32 93 34% 34%
10 to <16 ft 17 48 35% 35%
16 ft to <3-pt 9 35 26% 26%
3-pt 86 201 43% 64%

Western Conference Power Rankings:

Not a whole lot a movement in the Western Conference this week aside from the continued rise of the Houston Rockets Portland looking like themselves again.

1.Golden State Warriors (25-13 overall, 2nd in West) (2-1 this week) 

This Week: L POR, W @POR,  W @PHO.

Next Week: Hou, @SAC, NYK

2.Denver Nuggets (24-11, 1st) (3-1 this week)

This Week: L @SAS, W SAS, W @PHO, W NYK.

Next Week: @SAC, CHA, @HOU.

3.OKC Thunder (23-13, 3rd) (2-1 this week)

This Week: W PHO, L @DAL, W DAL.

Next Week:  @LAL, @POR, WSH, MIN.

4.Portland Trailblazers (22-16, 5th) (3-1 this week) ↑1

This Week: W @GSW, L GSW, W PHI, W @SAC.

Next Week: OKC, HOU, NYK.

5.Houston Rockets (21-15, 4th) (3-0 this week) ↑1

This Week: W BOS, W @NOP, W MEM.

Next Week: @GSW, @POR, DEN.

6.San Antonio (21-17, 8th) (3-1 this week) ↑2

This Week: W DEN, L @DEN, W @LAC, W BOS.

Next Week: TOR, MEM, @DET.

7.Los Angeles Lakers (21-16, T-6th) (1-2 this week) ↓3

This week: L @SAC, L LAC, W SAC.

Next Week: OKC, NYK, @MIN, @DAL.

8.LA Clippers (21-16, T-6th) (2-2 this week) ↓1

This week: W SAC, W @LAL, L SAS, L PHI.

Next Week: @PHO, ORL, CHA.

9.Sacramento Kings (19-18, 9th) (1-3 this week)

This week: L @LAC, W LAL, L @LAL, L POR.

Next Week: DEN, GSW, ORL, @PHO.

10.Utah Jazz (18-20, 11th) (1-2 this week)

This Week: L PHI, W NYK, L @TOR.

Next Week: @CLE, @DET, @MIL.

11.Memphis Grizzlies (18-18, 10th) (1-2 this week)

This Week: W CLE, L BOS, L @HOU.

Next Week: DET, BKN, @SAS, @NOP.

12.Dallas Mavericks (17-19, 12th) (2-2 this week)

If this was the home version of the Mavs I could have them as high as 4th or 5th, if it was the road version of the Mavs they could easily be last.

This Week: W NOP, L @NOP, W OKC, L @OKC.

Next Week: @CHA, @BOS, @PHI, LAL.

13. New Orleans Pelicans (17-21, 14th) (2-2 this week)  ↑1

This Week: L @DAL, W DAL, L HOU, W MIN.

Next Week: @BKN, @CLE, MEM.

14.Minnesota Timberwolves (17-20, 13th) (2-2 this week) ↓1

This week: W @CHI, L ATL, W @MIA, L @NOP.

Next Week: @BOS, ORL, LAL, @OKC.

15.Phoenix Suns (9-29, 15th) (1-3 this week)

This Week: W @ORL, L OKC, L DEN, L GSW.

Next Week: PHI, LAC, CHA, SAC.

Western Conference 2018-2019 Team Stats

Teams are listed in order of their standings in the Western Conference. The following heat map shows which teams excel in certain statistical categories and where teams are under performing league average.  The darker the green the more they outperform in that category and the darker the red the worse they are in that category.

ORtg – Offensive Rating – points scored per 100 possessions.
DRtg – Defensive Rating – points allowed per 100 possessions.
NRtg – Net Rating – Difference between Offensive and Defensive Ratings. No surprise that the top 3 teams in the conference are by far the top 3 in Net Rating.  However, if we could adjust these stats to not include October, I think the Mavs would be right up there with the best.

The Mavericks are now pretty much tied for last place in the West in turnovers per game.  Luka averaged 3.5 turnover per game, Dennis Smith Jr 3.2, and DeAndre Jordan 2.4.  We are also lagging the rest of the West in field goal percentage, free throw percentage, assists, and blocks.  There is no longer any green on the Mavs line at all, indicating that they are not excelling relative to their peers in any category.  There is definitely hope for the future as Luka and DSJ have still only played 24 games together.  Growth pains are expected, but the playoffs would be nice to.

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