#5 Worst Loss
December 15th vs. Lakers 104-107
For the Mavericks, things were teetering 28 games into the season. They played an absolutely wild game at home against the Lakers that resulted in a heartbreaking overtime defeat at the hands of all people, Austin Reaves. The undrafted guard out of Oklahoma drained a game winner after a bizarre sequence in the final minutes that included a Russell Westbrook three pointer, a banked-in Maxi Kleber equalizer, and a Tim Hardaway Jr. missile from six feet behind the three point line.
All things considered, the season was still young for a Mavs team still getting used to Jason Kidd and a brand new coaching staff. But the loss was no less of a gut punch for a team still trying to keep themselves above .500 as the midpoint in the season neared.
#5 Best Win
October 23rd vs. Raptors 103-95
The second game of the season was quietly one of the most impressive performances by the Mavs all year long. After a scintillating, undefeated preseason that included an absolute shelling of the Hornets by 68 points, Dallas got thrashed by the Hawks on opening night. They quickly had to turn around and fly up to Toronto to play the Raptors, and promptly scored just 18 points in the first quarter.
Mavs fans everywhere were staring down the barrel of an 0-2 start and the wheels quickly coming off what was an exciting new beginning under Nico Harrison and Jason Kidd. Tim Hardaway Jr. combusted for seven long balls and 25 points, while Luka Dončić and Kristaps Porzingis put together 45 between them. Dallas got a gritty win on the road against a good team and scored their first win under their new coach.
#4 Worst Loss
December 3rd vs. Pelicans 91-107
Around the same time of the season as the Lakers loss, Dallas dropped an incredibly winnable game against the lowly Pelicans. Luka Dončić was the only Maverick to score 20 points in a brutal game for the Dallas offense. The team shot just 29% from three-point range, and only 40% overall. They also missed nine free throws, which directly contributed to a dreadful 35-20 third quarter deficit.
The Mavs allowed five Pelicans to score in double figures, including a rare 12 points from Willy Hernangomez. Not a single Maverick finished the game with a single +/- above zero, and certain doubts about the true quality of the roster became much more pronounced after this game. Dallas fell to 11-10 on the season, an underwhelming record for a team coming off back-to-back playoff appearances and adding Reggie Bullock and Sterling Brown in the offseason.
#4 Best Win
January 5th vs. Warriors 99-82
The Mavericks still hadn’t quite found themselves yet, sitting at a mediocre 19-18 on Dirk Nowitzki retirement night. This was one of the first games Kidd’s stellar new defensive team began to take shape. The Mavs held Stephen Curry and the Warriors to just 82 points and won comfortably despite shooting just 38% themselves. One got the sense heading into this game that the Mavs badly needed a win in this contest not just because of their relatively low spot in the standings, but because it was Nowitzki’s special night.
Dallas did just that, locking down one of the league’s most explosive teams and never looking back en route to one of their three wins over the Warriors over the course of their 52-win campaign. Dallas finished 7th in the NBA for defensive rating and it was post January 1st that it became to show itself night after night.
#3 Worst Loss
November 2nd vs. Heat 110-125
Still early on in the season, the Mavs faced the Miami Heat on a Tuesday night at home. Dallas rode a ridiculous game from Jalen Brunson nearly to the finish line, but the Heat pulled away in the fourth quarter. Dallas once again missed nine free throws and shot a miserable 33% from three. Dallas hung in there in large part thanks to Brunson’s 25 points and Luka’s 33, but Dallas wasn’t up to the task at the end of the game.
To really emphasize this one, however, Heat fans somehow infiltrated the American Airlines Center and started a piercing “Let’s Go Heat” chant in the closing moments of the game. No matter how big a Mavs fan you are, that is painful. Dallas did get a win later in the season in Miami, however.
#3 Best Win
March 16th vs. Nets 113-111
In one of the most thrilling finishes of the entire season, Spencer Dinwiddie keyed a remarkable fourth quarter comeback culminating in a Dinwiddie dagger to bury the Nets as time expired. Dallas trailed by as many as 14 in the fourth quarter, and was up against the sheer superstardom of Kevin Durant who had ten assists to go along with 23 points. Doncic did his thing with 37, but this game meant more than one more in the win column.
One got the sense that this was the game the Mavericks truly arrived. They won a primetime clash, on the road, against arguably the league’s best player in an incredibly gritty fashion. Wins like this have not come along too often in Dallas over the years, making this photo-finish all the more thrilling. Dallas improved to 43-26 and snatched their 20th win away from home.
#2 Worst Loss
March 9th vs. Knicks 77-107
This game was super strange considering Dallas had been on an absolute tear going into the game. The Mavs had won five straight and may have been due for a clunker, however scoring less than 80 points against a dreadful Knicks team at home is bewildering. Dallas allowed six Knicks to score in double figures, while only two Mavs did. Reggie Bullock shot a goose egg for eight from range, leading to the team going an insane 6-44 from three point range.
There are stinkers, and then there are whatever this was. Still fighting for playoff seeding and having the majority of their roster healthy, Dallas just didn’t show up at home for the Knicks and got smacked around for it. It’s extra painful considering Dallas seemingly cannot win home games against the Knicks for whatever reason dating back to Rick Carlisle’s penultimate season with the Mavericks.
#2 Best Win
March 13th vs Celtics 95-92
Following their dumpster fire against New York, Dallas scored a win over the Rockets and then went up to Boston for an extremely tough matchup with the Celtics. Setting aside playing an excellent team on the road in another nationally-televised game, Dallas was also going up against another team’s jersey retirement of their own.
Kevin Garnett was being honored by the team he won a championship with, raising the environment and energy in the building to atmospheric levels. Dallas fell behind considerably in the first half, and then slowly plugged away in the second on their way to an incredible three point win. Boston, under Ime Udoka, plays impenetrable defense, yet Dallas out-defended them to a huge 95-92 victory.
#1 Worst Loss
February 2nd vs. Thunder 114-120
This, by far, was the worst loss of the season for the Mavericks, and might be the worst loss of the last couple. Mind you, they were coming off an equally dispiriting two-point loss to the lowly Magic, and somehow lost at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Lu Dort, yes, Lu Dort, one more time: Luguentz Dort, scored 30 points and showered the Mavs with six three-pointers.
Dort is at least a somewhat established NBA player, whereas Tre Mann just isn’t yet. Mann scored 29 of his own in a shocking defeat of the Mavs in overtime. Dallas trailed by nine to start the fourth quarter and managed to force overtime before giving up 17 points in the extra session. Dallas wasted a 40-point dazzling display from Luka to take their 23rd loss of the year, and unquestionably their worst.
#1 Best Win
February 27th vs. Warriors 107-101
In one of the more bizarre games of the year, Dallas went into the Chase Center in San Fransisco to play the Warriors. Golden State burst onto the scene with 37 points in the opening frame to Dallas’s 24. The Warriors led by 21 at one point in the second half and 15 to start the fourth, before Spencer Dinwiddie, in just his fourth game in Dallas, went 10-14 from the field for 24 points.
Dallas shocked the Warriors and secured a win from a huge deficit. The team was absolutely oozing with confidence as the fourth quarter rolled along. Dončić went an impressive 11-12 from the free throw line, leading to a massive win for the Mavs at a time when it looked like the their chances at the fourth seed were slipping away from them.