The Dallas Mavericks have claimed the fifth seed in the Western Conference after a thrilling 125-124 home win over the Washington Wizards last night.
Luka Dončić had a performance for the ages in a crucial seeding matchup, posting an incredible 31-12-20, making him one of only four players in NBA history to have a 30 point and 20 assist triple-double alongside Russell Westbrook, Oscar Roberston, and Magic Johnson.
The Mavericks now have the same record as the Los Angeles Lakers, but hold the tiebreaker over them meaning that they must either match their record or surpass it in the remaining nine games of the season.
Based on their recent play and the upcoming difficulty of schedule, the Mavericks are in a prime position to hold onto the fifth seed and continue winning games.
While things are seemingly favorable right now for Dallas, a majority of their current standing must be credited to their high level of play in recent games. In their last seven matchups, the Mavs are 6-1 averaging 118 PPG, shooting 49% from the field and 41% from three.
In this stretch, the Mavericks have shown great resilience and played fantastic team basketball despite multiple absences from Kristaps Porzingis. This was more apparent than ever in their matchup last night.
When asking backup point guard Trey Burke about the importance of the effort displayed by him and the rest of the roster he stated, “That’s what you look for this late in the season. You look for things we’re going over in pregame and you wanna see that translate. We’re going into the postseason and things have to translate quick.”
This trend was very evident in the win, as five different players scored in double-digits while shooting above 50% from the field along with some crucial buckets down the stretch from Tim Hardaway Jr., Dorian Finney Smith, and Trey Burke himself.
In a closely contested game that is likely to be touted as the most important victory of the year, Finney-Smith was lights out from three including the biggest shot of the game hitting a late three-pointer to put the Mavericks up by one with just nine seconds remaining.
“I knew they were trapping Luka. They trapped me the last three possessions and I just got a layup two possessions before then and I got the turnover out of bounds,” said Finney-Smith. “I knew the ball was probably gonna find me most likely, so I just wanted to be ready to shoot because I didn’t shoot that ball when I stepped out of bounds, and I told him if you find me I’m gonna let it go, and he found me.”
This shot would seal the game for the Mavericks after a defensive scramble for the ball and a last-second missed three from Bradley Beal. The Mavericks look to carry this victory into the second half of their back-to-back tonight against the Sacramento Kings.
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