Of all teams, the Dallas Mavericks have turned themselves into defensive demons over the past three games.
During that stretch, the Mavs didn’t permit any of their three opponents to score more than 89 points. That’s the longest stretch of defensive efficiency for the Mavs since January 2012, when they held six straight foes under 90 points.
The guys are buying into a style of play which puts us into a better position to defend.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle on team’s improved defensive play
Not bad for a team that recently went through a stretch of 21 games allowing 112.3 points per game.
Coach Rick Carlisle describes the defensive potency his team has suddenly developed as “a combination of offensive tempo and defensive intensity. The guys are buying into a style of play which puts us into a better position to defend.”
In the past three games the Mavs defeated the Denver Nuggets 97-88 on Monday, edged the New York Knicks 91-89 on Wednesday, and won 98-89 against the Detroit Pistons on Friday.
Starting Feb. 5 with a 116-90 loss to San Antonio, 19 of the Mavs’ next 21 opponents have scored at least 100. And that includes nine games in which the Mavs allowed at least 116 points.
The poor defensive play reached a fever pitch when lottery-bound Sacramento clocked the Mavs for 133 points. It’s the most points the Mavs have permitted in a game this season.
Since then, the Mavs slowed the pace of the game while being more patient offensively.
The Mavs (38-38) hope that trend continues on Sunday when they take their three-game winning into Target Center to face the Minnesota Timberwolves (25-51).
“I’m just trying to keep them out of the lane, and we’ve been able to contest their jumpers,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said of the Mavs’ success on defense. “I thought we’ve been really good on the glass, as well, rebounding the ball.
“Everybody goes in there and fights. I always say if we contest shots and we rebound we usually put ourselves in good position to at least be there at the end and maybe steal one on the road.”
The Mavericks are also slowing their pace.
“Going forward, it’s a feel game,” Carlisle said. “Sometimes we’ve got to go a little faster, sometimes we’ve got to tempo it down a little bit. But we’ve got a smart veteran team and these guys all want to win. So we’re just trying to do whatever it takes.”
Barea on a roll
Starting with the Mavs’ March 16 game at Cleveland, opponents have had a tough time defending guard J.J. Barea on the pick-and-roll.
In the past nine games, Barea has averaged 18.2 points, shot 51.1 percent overall and 50 percent on 3-pointers.
“The [shooting] percentage is up, so that makes it easier to get in the paint,” Barea said. “They don’t want me to get in the paint, so they still go under [the pick-and-roll].
“So I’m going to always — if I be patient — I’ll always have some good looks from the 3-point line.”
During the Mavs’ three-game winning streak, Barea is shooting 55.6 percent from the floor and 50 percent from 3-point range. He’s averaging 24.3 points and seven assists.