It’s finally official: with the victory over the Portland Trail Blazers Friday night, the Dallas Mavericks have officially clinched home court in the first round of the NBA playoffs for the first time in over a decade. The accomplishment is a fantastic one, especially considering where Dallas sat in the standings just a few months ago. As this season as gone on, the similarities between this team and the 2010-2011 Finals team have continued to appear. Here are five similarities that may help the Mavericks in the postseason:
- The European Superstar – not much has to be said about this one. Dirk Nowitzki and Luka Dončić are both European but play very different styles of basketball. The main similarity between them is the star power and focus they bring to this roster. Everyone in the league is well aware of who the star player is on this team and yet both seem to be slightly underappreciated (from a national perspective). Both Dončić and Nowitzki lay the foundation for what this team does, and both play with somewhat of a chip on their shoulder.
- The Secondary Stars – Spencer Dinwiddie has flourished as a secondary star next to Luka, much like Jason Terry did playing alongside Dirk. While Dinwiddie isn’t the shooter that Terry was, the confidence and spark he brings to the team is eerily like Jet’s presence. Reggie Bullock is this year’s DeShawn Stevenson, a hard-nosed defender not afraid of taking on the opposing team’s first or second best player while knowing his role as a spot up three point shooter on offense. Dorian Finney-Smith and Shawn Marion draw comparisons for their leadership and defensive length. And Dwight Powell and Tyson Chandler are both that trusted big man who excels in the pick and roll game. Even Jason Kidd the coach is like Jason Kidd the player, a veteran coming in to clean up some of the nuances of the game and provide that wisdom to help this team reach their potential.
- Defensive Prowess – both the 2010-2011 and 2021-2022 Dallas Mavericks excelled on the defensive end of the floor. Both teams finished top 10 in defensive rating while having no true defensive star. In fact, the Mavericks team hadn’t finished higher than 15th in defensive rating in the last ten years. The collective team effort of both rosters to place an importance on defense is a key similarity that might help this year’s roster as they advance in the postseason.
- Closing Strong – the 2010-2011 Mavericks closed the season by winning 17 of their last 26 games after the All-Star break, giving themselves momentum as they advanced to the playoffs. This year, the Mavericks have won 16 of their last 23 games to close out the season (Dallas has one game left against San Antonio at the time of writing this article). Momentum into the playoffs adds additional confidence and allows a team to have faith in their style of play as they hope to play for a title.
- Home Court Advantage – for the first time since the 2010-2011 season, the Mavericks have secured home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Home court in the postseason has its advantages. Playing in front of your fan base adds a different dimension for players. The lack of travel and getting to play on your home court in your home city is an advantage. And of course, depending on your opponent and their city, you may be at an advantage when it comes to the schedule. But more importantly, for a young team that has finished closer to the play in tournament than a top 4 seed the last few years, finishing with home court in the first round after the way they started the season should be an amazing accomplishment.
The similarities between the 2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks and the 2021-2022 Dallas Mavericks are undeniable. Heck, even Jason Kidd is a part of both teams! The team that won the title in 2010 had an internal confidence that has been documented time and time again. That team also was given no chance to advance past the second round in the postseason, much less win the Finals. That’s not to say this year’s Mavericks team will win (or even make) the Finals. But the confidence and team chemistry are as high as they have been since 2010-2011, that should bolster confidence within the locker room and the stands.