The Dallas Mavericks have been balling lately and look to have finally found a reliable running mate for superstar Luka Dončić in the form of Spencer Dinwiddie.
The Mavs are 10-2 since adding Dinwiddie to the lineup at last month’s trade deadline. He’s averaging just under 18 points per game and has two game-winning shots in his last two games, the second of which came Wednesday night against his old team, the Nets, in Brooklyn.
It’s always exciting when a player can beat his/her former teammates, but to do it in this fashion — on a buzzer-beating game winner — must magnify that feeling 10 times over. Before Dinwiddie daggered Brooklyn, Dallas faced the Celtics in Boston, where he hit a three to give the Mavs a 95-92 lead with nine seconds left in regulation. Dinwiddie is the definition of clutch right now, shooting 50 percent from the field and over 45 percent from 3-point range in his last 10 games.
The most beautiful part of the last two games for the Mavs is that Dončić assisted on both of Dinwiddie’s game-winners. Luka has been great since the day he stepped on an NBA court, but one of the biggest knocks on him has been a lack of trust in teammates.
“I don’t know if anybody told Picasso that he has to use all the paints, but I just want to remind him that he can rely on his teammates,” said coach Jason Kidd. “His teammates are going to be there to help him. I’m very excited to have this opportunity to work with a young Picasso whose paintings have been incredible up to this point and are only going to get better.”
Luka showed the ultimate trust in Dinwiddie the past two games. With both games on the line, Luka passed instead of forcing his way into a bad shot. I think this is what Kidd was talking about when he said, Luka’s teammates are there to help him. Dončić trusted his teammate in a back-to-back tight game in the closing moments, and the Mavs came away with two thrilling victories.
This should be encouraging to Mavs fans as it could be the turning of a corner for Luka and Dallas. Dončić hasn’t made it out of the first round of the playoffs, and it feels like this could be the year that trend comes to an end. The Mavs are locked in a battle for the No. 4 seed in the West with the Utah Jazz at 43-26. Both teams are three games behind the Warriors for third, and 1.5 games ahead of the Nuggets, currently hanging onto the No. 6 seed. If this holds steady, the Jazz and Mavs will match up in the opening round of the playoffs.
If that happens, I’d take these Mavs over the Jazz in six or seven games. It’s time for Luka and the Mavs to graduate from the first round and become more serious contenders. The way Dallas is playing now, I could see them getting past Utah and giving either Memphis or Golden State a run for their money in the second round. The Grizzlies are young, and I’m not sure how ready they are for a deep postseason run. The Warriors are dealing with an injury bug lately, having just gotten Draymond Green back in the lineup. Now Steph Curry will miss time with a sprained ligament in his left foot.
The way things are looking in the Western Conference right now, I wouldn’t be shocked if Dallas found itself in the Western Conference Finals. So, the West is looking more wide open than it did just one month ago. The Phoenix Suns have also been hampered with injuries to key players like Devin Booker (back in the lineup since Mar. 9) and Chris Paul, who’s still sidelined. This could be the year a sleeper team steps up and takes everybody by surprise. With a couple of breaks at the right time, that team could be the Mavs.