Those teams won multiple championships, and part of the way they did it was through playing lock-down defense.
This year's edition of the Mavs are still very talented on the offensive end, but they are also doing a much-better-than-fair job of stopping people on the defensive end too.
Currently, the Mavs are No. 9 in the league in points allowed—95.6 ppg.
In comparison, they are doing better on D (statistically), than they are on O—98.9 ppg, 15th in points scored per game.
Over the last few years, the Mavericks have added players whose strengths are defense and rebounding—namely Shawn Marion, DeShawn Stevenson and Tyson Chandler.
Marion can still guard multiple positions.
Stevenson, at 6'5" and 218 pounds, is a physical SG.
And Tyson Chandler, healthy for the first time in a couple years, patrols the middle and prevents opponents from going inside at will (as teams have done for years against Dallas).
Even the return-from-injury of lightning-fast guard Roddy Beaubois gives the Mavs another player who can exert defensive pressure on the perimeter.
Rather than Dirk Nowitzki having to beat everyone with his premier offensive skills, Dallas can make things happen at both ends of the court.
Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle has tried to move the Mavs towards being a more defensive-minded ball club since coming to town.
The mentality is slowly getting there, but with the right personnel arriving, Dallas plays a different brand of basketball.
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