To say the Dallas Mavericks have been heating up from 3-point range lately would be an understatement. It has been an integral part of the team winning four of their last five games after going 9-10 earlier in the season.
While the Mavs lost a game to the Detroit Pistons without Cade Cunningham in overtime during that span, the victories they achieved were impressive, including victories over the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets.
The Mavs are shooting from deep averaging 19.0 of 45.6 (41.7 percent) and leading the NBA in their last five games by a sizeable margin in 3-points made. The Warriors average the second most-made 3s at 16.6 per game. It was a fairly new upswing for Dallas and was led by the duo of Luka Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr.
Doncic and Hardaway have combined for 53 three-pointers in the Mavs’ last five games. They’ve made at least as many shots from the perimeter as 12 NBA teams in that span. According to Elias Sports Bureau, no teammate has scored at least four 3-pointers in the same stretch of five consecutive games in NBA history.
The Mavs’ offense was exceptional as Doncic and Hardaway shared the floor in that searing period of 3-point shooting. In the 142 minutes they played alongside each other, Dallas has outscored opponents by a 52-point margin while shooting 53.3 percent from the floor and 49.6 percent from 3.
“I just think it’s great that everyone is smiling in the locker room,” said Mavs coach Jason Kidd 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. Again we tried to put the guys in a situation where they can be successful.
“We are a team that lives or dies by the three and today we made them. We got a lot of great looks, we blew them away and there was a lot of rhythm take. A lot of guys may have missed layups or an opportunity to shoot one to get a better one and I thought we saw that this afternoon. A lot of nice basketball where you take a good shot to get a great shot.
For Doncic, his shooting has trended up significantly for a little longer than just that five-game sample size. In his last eight appearances, he shoots 29-63 (46.0%) on 3-pointers outside of dribbling after shooting 31-111 (27.9%) in his first 15 games. He leads the NBA in 3-point marks outside of dribbling with seven points in that eight-game stint.
Hardaway is shooting 54.5 percent on 11.0 attempts per game during that amazingly efficient five-game period. He leads the NBA in 3 points per game (6.0) by a 0.6 margin, while Doncic (4.6) is sixth. Hardaway was shooting pretty poorly before that stretch at 29.4 percent on 6.6 attempts per game.
Hardaway’s shooting has emerged as arguably more important than any of Doncic’s teammates following the team’s decision to put him on the starting lineup. He’s often used in situations where defense is picking their poison, whether it’s as a back-screener on a “stack” pick-and-roll, a “ghost” screener, or a double-drag screener when the Mavs are on offense a way they just didn’t understand when Reggie Bullock first started.
“I think the coach put it best – if Luka does the difficult part then we have to do our job to make it easier for him and that means to put down open shots when he breaks down the defense and two guys on him Hardaway Jr. said after the Mavs’ win over the Knicks. “… Today we did our part.”
The effect of Hardaway’s Shooting Peak combined with Doncic has produced some truly explosive results. In the 142 minutes that Doncic and Hardaway have shared the floor in their last five games, Dallas has a 132.3 offensive rating and a 17.9 net rating. No other two-man drafting combination in the NBA with at least 100 minutes has produced an offensive rating of 130.0 or higher. The results were off the charts to say the least.
There are a few questions that come up when we look at what we’ve seen from Doncic and Hardaway. How long it will take? When the shootout returns to earth, will they still prove successful enough offensively to win at a high level?
Getting a heavy dose of made step back 3s from a Superstar can be the ultimate floor raiser on an offense – allowing for a greater margin of error. Of course, when those shots don’t fall evenly, it becomes all the more important for the Superstar’s teammates to make the most of the candid looks he creates for them. Can the Mavs overcome their need to live and die by the 3? That remains to be seen. But for now, they’re enjoying the benefits of having the ball go through the net at high speed.
Want the latest breaking news and inside information about the Dallas Mavericks? Click here.
Follow DallasBasketball.com on Twitter and Facebook.