For nearly five months the rhythm of basketball dribbles faded in the distance and everything paused. Reclaiming the season seemed impossible. Many doubted it would actually work.
Yet here we are.
After a historic unprecedented regular season, the Mavericks have punched a postseason ticket for the first time since 2016. And don’t let the Mavs’ lack of postseason action fool you. If ever there was a team prime to enter unknown territory, it’s this squad.
The players have a secret arsenal of life experiences that have taught them to boldly face challenges and defy odds. Make no doubt about it, this team was built for this.
Basketball is not the story of this squad. The people are.
When the No. 7-seeded Mavs face the No. 2-seeded Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the playoffs, there will be plenty of unique off-court storylines to bring this series to life. Dallas boasts the most international players of any NBA playoff team with seven countries and territories represented, uniting a global basketball audience.
In fact, this squad is one of the most diverse in all the league. Bolivia, Canada, Germany, Latvia, Puerto Rico, Serbia, Slovenia and the United States are all represented. Josh Reaves also holds dual citizenship as a Bolivian-American and proudly represents the people there.
Sure, the numbers don’t lie: the Clippers beat Dallas in all three games this season. However, the Mavs also never lost three in a row at any point during a long and strenuous season. This reflects a bounce-back spirit and resilience that completely makes sense with this particular team.
Many of the Mavs players went undrafted. Another suffered from a blood disorder that nearly claimed his life. Others lost family members at a young age. A few others left home as teenagers to navigate entire new countries and cultures all on their own.
Then there are the players born to NBA fathers who faced pressure from the world at a young age. One member of the team was recruited by only one college and it only happened by chance. Another uses his speech impediment to inspire children all over the world. Another Mavs player watched his brother gunned down, later became a teenage father and earned the last training camp spot a few years ago.
They have been called names like “too big and out of shape” or “too lanky, skinny and soft” to ever survive in this league. Yet they did.
These are the stories that make up this year’s Dallas Mavericks team. These are the stories that truly matter.
They have been defined by the underdog role their entire lives and still found a way to rise when it mattered most. If ever you need a reason to believe in the unlikely, place your bets on this team.
On the basketball side, the Mavs also boast the best offense in NBA history. A team’s offensive rating is measured by how many points it scores per 100 possessions and the Mavs recorded the highest offensive rating in league history during the 2019-’20 regular season.
J.J. Barea will look to compete in his 50th NBA playoff game, and the 2011 NBA champion will be expected to add a valuable leadership punch for the Mavs. Meanwhile, Mavs young guns like Luka Dončić and Kristaps Porzingis are set for their first NBA playoffs showdown. Both men left home at a young age to chase their basketball dreams, and they were always projected for the big stage. No one, however, could have predicted just how potent the duo would become early in their NBA careers.
In bubble play, Dončić and Porzingis were named to the Kia NBA All-Seeding Games Teams after they finished as the only pair of teammates to average 30 points per game in the bubble. Dallas also was the only team to have multiple players named to the All-Seeding Games Teams.
Dončić was a unanimous First Team selection after receiving all 22 first-place votes. This season, the second-year Slovenian became the youngest player in NBA history (21 years, 168 days) to lead the league outright in triple-doubles with 17. He also led all bubble players in triple-doubles with three.
Meanwhile, Porzingis finished tied for fourth among all restart players in scoring, and also scored at least 20 points in each of his six games in Orlando, including scoring 30-plus points in four of the six games he played in.
For Seth Curry, the postseason will once again be a family affair.
Last year he faced his brother, Stephen, in the Western Conference Finals while Seth was playing with the Portland Trail Blazers. Now, Seth will face off against his father-in-law, Doc Rivers, who is the head coach of the Clippers. In fact, the playoffs happens to arrive nearly one year after Rivers walked his daughter, Callie, down the aisle to marry Seth.
Curry never stood in his brother’s shadows, nor is he just a son to a former NBA player and son-in-law to an NBA champion coach. He has proved time and time again that he is so much more.
The same can be said for the entire Mavericks’ team, because each player is delicately woven with life experiences and journeys to prepare them to chase destiny. And in a sports world that measures everything with stats and numbers, the Mavs will most certainly enter the first round of the playoffs as underdogs.
Just the way they like it.
Chasing Destiny is a series we will present throughout the playoffs that highlights the individual storylines about each player that allowed them to rise to this moment. These are the stories that connect us. These are the moments that ignite hope during a time that we need a reason to BELIEVE. Check back each day for more off-court features about your favorite Dallas Mavericks players. If you have a personal story you would love to share about the Dallas Mavericks, MFFLs or your passion for the team, email Tamara.Jolee@DallasMavs.com to submit an idea!