‣ The Mavericks have found versatility in their roster despite many injuries and now possess a 22-15 record, with Luka Doncic attributing their success to defensive improvement.
‣ Doncic believes his elite lower-body strength has contributed to his outstanding individual defense, which was evident in a recent game against Minnesota.
‣ Kyrie Irving, co-star of the Mavericks, revealed that the team feels extra motivated after beating the Western leaders, the Timberwolves.
The Mavericks haven’t had the smoothest start to the season. Despite this, and a string of injuries, the Texan franchise has managed to find versatility within their ranks. They currently hold a 22-15 record. Luka Doncic, the team’s star player, believes their current 6th rank standing in the Western Conference is largely due to their improved defense.
Recently, the Mavs pulled off a clutch victory, edging out the Timberwolves 115 to 108. Kyrie Irving was instrumental in this win, leading the charge against the Western leaders with 35 points. Doncic also played his part, contributing 34 points to the team’s total.
“Stay the course,” Doncic said after the game. His team had just posted an 11-0 run in the final minutes. “We had good shots. We were just moving the ball really well today. That’s what we need to keep doing and trusting it.”
In this game, the 24-year-old Doncic demonstrated his skills not only offensively, but also defensively against Minnesota. He attributes this to his lower-body strength, which he believes is among the strongest in the NBA. “I’m strong. People don’t think that, but I think I have some of the most powerful legs in the NBA,” he said.
Doncic even managed to stop Karl-Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves’ big man, in the fourth quarter. However, the Wolves’ dual-center strategy, with Rudy Gobert also posing a constant threat, kept the Mavericks’ defense on their toes.
For Doncic, the key is to stay in shape and healthy, especially given the team’s injury woes this season. “First, staying healthy,” he said about maintaining his team’s defense in the last minutes. “We’ve had a big problem with that this season. But we still hang in there. The last 10-15 games, we’ve been more active on defense. We’ve been playing better on defense.”
Kyrie Irving, Doncic’s co-star, revealed that the team felt extra motivated after defeating the Western leaders, the Timberwolves. “It feels good when you can go blow-for-blow with one of the best teams in the league,” he said. Irving emphasized that sticking to the game plan usually results in victories for the team.
Over the last 10 games, the Mavericks have produced the third-best defensive rating in the NBA at 110.8. Doncic believes that if they can maintain this level of effort, they could become true title contenders. “Everyone says, ‘your best offense is your defense,'” he said. “We play good defense, we get rebounds, we can run the floor and I think we’re one of the best teams in the NBA to do that. You have to score more points than the other team.”