It would be an understatement to say the Dallas Mavericks have been getting hot from 3-pointers lately. It’s been part and parcel of the side winning four of their last five games after going 9-10 this season.
While the Mavs lost a game to the Detroit Pistons without Cade Cunningham in overtime during that stretch, the victories they had were impressive, including victories over the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets.
The Mavs are averaging 19.0 of 45.6 (41.7%) from deep, leading the NBA to 3-pointers by a substantial margin in their last five games. The Warriors are averaging the second 3 most scored with 16.6 per game. It’s been a recent wave for Dallas, and it’s been led by the duo of Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Doncic and Hardaway have combined to make 53 3-pointers in the Mavs’ last five games. They’ve had as many or more shots from the perimeter than 12 NBA teams in that span. No teammate has made at least four 3-pointers in the same five-game streak in NBA history, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
The Mavs offense was extraordinary when Doncic and Hardaway shared the floor during that torrid 3-point shooting streak. In the 142 minutes they played side-by-side, Dallas outplayed the opposition by a 52-point margin while shooting 53.3 percent from the floor and 49.6 percent from 3.
“I think it’s great that everyone is smiling in the locker room,” Mavs coach Jason Kidd said after Dallas’ 121-100 win over the New York Knicks on Saturday. “Everyone saw the ball go in. We shared the ball, we played well, the ball didn’t stick. Once again, we tried to put the guys in a position to succeed.
“We are a team that lives or dies by all three, and today we did them. We had a lot of great looks, we knocked them down and there were a lot of rhythm shots. A lot of guys may have passed up layups or the opportunity to shoot one to get a better one, and I thought we saw that this afternoon. Lots of good basketball to pass up a good shot to get a good shot.
For Doncic, his shooting increased significantly for a slightly longer period than the size of this five-game sample alone. In his previous eight performances, he shoots 29-63 (46.0%) on no-dribble 3s after shooting 31-111 (27.9%) in his first 15 games. He leads the NBA in 3 points off the dribble by seven over that eight-game span.
Hardaway is shooting 54.5 percent on 11.0 attempts per game over that incredibly efficient five-game stretch. He leads the NBA in 3 points per game (6.0) by a 0.6 margin with Doncic (4.6) ranked sixth. Hardaway was shooting pretty poorly before that streak at 29.4 percent on 6.6 attempts per game.
Hardaway’s shot appeared to be arguably more important than any of Doncic’s teammates following the team’s decision to place him in the starting lineup. He is often deployed in situations that force defenses to choose their poison, whether he is deployed as a back-screener in “Stack” pick-and-roll, a “Ghost” screener, or a double-drag screener. The Mavs attack in a way they just don’t understand when Reggie Bullock was starting.
“I think the coach said it best – when Luka is doing the hardest we have to do our job to make it easy for him, and that’s knocking down open shots when he collapses the defense and gets 2 guys on him” , Hardaway Jr. said after the Mavs win over the Knicks. “…Today we did our part.”
The impact of Hardaway’s shooting spike when paired with Doncic translated into some truly explosive results. In the 142 minutes Doncic and Hardaway have shared the floor over the past five games, Dallas has produced an offensive rating of 132.3 and a net rating of 17.9. No other two-man combination in the NBA with at least 100 minutes has produced an offensive rating at or above 130.0. The results were, to say the least, extraordinary.
There are a few questions that arise when looking at what we’ve seen from Doncic and Hardaway. How long will it last? When the shot returns to Earth, will they still be successful enough offensively to win at the top level?
Receiving a heavy dose of 3 knockback from a Superstar can be the ultimate for an offense, allowing for more room for error. When those shots don’t land regularly, it naturally becomes all the more crucial for the superstar’s teammates to make the most of the open looks he creates for them. Can the Mavs overcome their need to live and die by 3s? That remains to be seen. But, for now, they are enjoying the benefits of seeing the ball go through the net at a high pace.
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