If you only look at the stats, the Mavericks defense is what the team has greatly improved. It is the foundation on which they have built their season.
However, it’s the improvements on the offensive end of the floor that give Mavericks fans a real reason for hope.
Jason Kidd has been better this season scoring-wise, but he is not going to get you more than 15 points every game. However, he does bring what every team needs: a veteran floor general who knows his teammates' strengths, someone who has been through the playoffs and knocks down spot-up jumpers. Kidd is averaging 10 assists per game. Running with Kidd, Dallas has scorers that have stayed inside their games and have been uber-productive so far this season.
All of the options Kidd has is what makes this team so dangerous.
Dirk Nowitzki consistently faces up and hit over his defenders. He is currently shooting a career-best 53 percent from the field, which is amazing for a player who shoots so many jump shots.
Not to go unnoticed has been Dirk’s improved passing this season. He has always been a good passer out of the double team, but he is deferring to teammates late in games. It has been paying off with Caron Butler, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry knocking down big shots already this season off Nowitzki passes.
Terry finds the ball in crunch time, when plays needed to be made, and he usually plays better in the second half than the first. J.J. Barea gets to the rim, creating movement on defense. Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler have been finishing Kidd and Barea's nifty passes inside, bringing back memories of Chandler's days with the Hornets and Marion's days with the Suns. The Caron Butler trade will end up paying bigger dividends for Mark Cuban this season than last. His ability to be an effective third scoring option behind Nowitzki and Terry, like he was behind Arenas and Jamison in Washington, will be the key to the Mavericks' success this season.
The Dallas offense executes night-in and night-out against the best defenses in the league, doing nothing other than play to their strengths on a nightly basis.
The Mavericks have struggled in the past on the basis of their predictability, but this is one case in which familiarity breeds success.
Opponents already know that Dirk and Terry are the main cogs in the Mavericks’ offense, but Rick Carlisle has found variety of ways to get the most out of this duo. So far this year, it’s been Dallas darting through opposing defenses by slashing, penetrating and cutting better than anyone in the league. It’s still Nowitzki and Terry, but it’s not JUST Nowitzki and Terry.
The team that has been assembled around them has been playing together for a couple years now. In a league where many teams are still learning to play together, this may be just the advantage the Mavericks need.
The Mavericks are game-planning and playing as well as anyone.
The question is whether they can carry that consistency all season and on into the playoffs, where they have struggled in the past.