Dallas Mavericks Secure Playoff Spot

Daniel Gafford #21 of the Dallas Mavericks
Daniel Gafford #21 of the Dallas Mavericks dunks the ball during the second half of an NBA game against the Charlotte Hornets | Image by David Jensen/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks are playoff-bound after a 130-104 win over the Charlotte Hornets and a Phoenix Suns’ loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.

After playing on the East Coast, the Mavericks had to wait for the results of Tuesday’s West Coast games and became the fifth team in the Western Conference to clinch a playoff spot. The team is clicking on all cylinders, winning 15 of its last 17 games, but head coach Jason Kidd says his squad can still find another gear.

“I think we’re playing really good basketball,” Kidd told the media after Tuesday’s win. “Our chemistry and trust are at a high. You want to be healthy. You want to be playing your best basketball, and right now, we could be playing our best, but we’re not satisfied to say this is our best. We still feel we have a ways to go, and so hopefully, this is just the start of our journey to continue to keep growing and getting better as we go along on this journey.”

The win means all of DFW’s “Big Four” teams have made the playoffs in the past calendar year and assures Dallas a top-six spot in the West, avoiding a play-in game just a year after the team missed the postseason altogether due to a monumental collapse. Many were quick to blame a lack of chemistry between star guards Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving for the collapse, but the two have leaned on each other this season, and Doncic says Irving’s experience can help Dallas chase a championship.

“Having Kyrie here has been a blessing, man,” Doncic told the media Tuesday night. On the court, everybody knows what kind of player he is, but just off the court, he helps me a lot — not just me, the whole team. He knows how to win the championship. He’s a very humble guy, a great guy, and, on the court and off the court, it’s just been a blessing to have him.”

The acquisitions of PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford at the trade deadline in February have been instrumental in the Mavericks’ turnaround, cementing low-post defense, demonstrating interior scoring, and bringing added energy to the overall chemistry of the team.

“When you talk about the trade with PJ, first is his ability to play both sides, offense and defense,” Kidd explained. “You can see when say, guys like Luca or Kai are out, he has stepped up for us. He’s given us an offensive spark, but I think when you look at the defensive end, he’s been able to guard one through five. He’s helped us here, since March 7, be the number one defensive team in the league, and he’s a pro. He comes to work every day, never complains, and I think I’ve said this before, he’s one of the few that runs out. When he comes out of the game, he gives you [a high] five, and that’s just a character thing that he has. He’s about the team, and he just wants to win.”

The added chemistry has been infectious during the Mavs’ recent run.

“The chemistry is at a high, the belief the trust is at a high, and it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing to watch right now,” Kidd concluded.

Dallas has three more regular season games remaining, beginning with a road game against the Miami Heat on Wednesday, and will wrap things up on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. The NBA playoffs will begin on Saturday, April 20, with the Mavericks’ schedule to be determined based on the results of the next few days.

If the current standings hold, the Mavericks (49-30) would be the No.5 seed in the West and face the No.4 seed Clippers (51-28) in the first round.

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