The team with the most efficient offensive season in NBA history is not the team centered around Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, or James Harden and Russell Westbrook, or Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Or not even Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the Showtime Los Angeles Lakers.
It’s the team centered around Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
Now that the 2019-’20 regular season is officially in the books, Doncic, Porzingis and the Dallas Mavericks came out of it by completing the most efficient offensive season in the history of the NBA. The Mavs’ offensive rating of 115.9 points per 100 possessions eclipsed the old record of 115 points per 100 possessions set last season by Curry, Thompson and the Golden State Warriors.
That gold standard is obviously a high-water mark the Mavs are very proud of as they make their 16th playoff appearance over a 20-year span when they open a best-of-seven series on Monday at 8 p.m. against the Los Angeles Clippers.
“It just shows you how good our team is offensively,” forward Dorian Finney-Smith said. “We’ve got two heckuva kind of combo (players) with Luka and KP, and everybody else do what we do know.
“Tim (Hardaway Jr.) can score the ball, Seth (Curry) can score, Trey (Burke) can score, me and Maxi (Kleber) do what we do. I just think we’ve got a great team, and when we’re moving the ball it’s hard to stop us.”
The Mavs have been so explosive on offense that they scored at least 45 points in one quarter a franchise-record five times this season, including three times in the first 16 games. By contrast, the old team record was two times – and the last time that occurred was during the 1994-’95 season.
Also, the Mavs tallied 40 or more points in the first quarter a franchise-record seven times this season, breaking the old record of five set way back during the 1986-’87 season. In short, the Mavs’ ability to keep lighting up the scoreboard puts immense pressure on opposing defenses no matter the talent level of that defense.
“I like to score,’ coach Rick Carlisle said. “What can I tell you? I like today’s game, I like skill players, I like guys that’ll move the ball, that can drive it and do all those kinds of things.”
Starting with the multi-dimensional Doncic, the Mavs have more than their share of players who can do a number of things on the offensive end of the floor. Doncic is averaging 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists, and also led the NBA in triple-doubles this season with 17.
In addition, Doncic became the first player in NBA history to produce a 36-point, 14-rebound, career-high 19-assist stat line when he manufactured those incredible numbers against the Milwaukee Bucks on Aug. 8. He also was named on Saturday to the NBA All-Seeding Games First Team after posting three triple-doubles in seven games inside the bubble in Orlando.
Meanwhile, Porzingis entered the playoffs having scored 20 or more points in all six games that he played in the bubble, including four games where he tallied at least 30 points. The only other time in his career that Porzingis went six consecutive games scoring at least 20 points was from Nov. 3-15, 2017 when he was playing for the New York Knicks.
“It’s good to be playing at a better level than I was in the beginning of the season,” said Porzingis, named Saturday to the NBA All-Seeding Games Second Team. “Like I said, I just needed time. I needed time and I knew with the work that I put in I was going to go like this.
“I never really had any doubts in my mind, but now that I‘m actually playing at a better level I’m still looking at the things that I can do better. I’m never satisfied. It’s obviously a good feeling to be recognized, but I feel like I still have a lot more growing and a lot more to prove.”
Porzingis believes with the way the Mavs can score the ball, they have a great chance to be in every game and win that game no matter who they’re playing.
“We can beat anybody with our offense,” said Porzingis, who averaged 30.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in the bubble. “I think the next steps for us are bringing the rest of the things up to that level.
“We’re working towards that, but what we want to keep doing is keeping our offense that way and also improving that. We don’t want to not be a great offensive team and do all the rest of the things right.”
Adding to the Mavs’ powerful offensive weaponry is guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who shot a career-high 39.8 percent from 3-point range this season while converting 203 of 510 buckets from downtown. That’s the most made 3-pointers by anyone in Mavs’ history other than the 257 shots from beyond the 3-point line that George McCloud converted on 678 attempts during the 1995-’96 season.
All of that offensive fireworks by the Mavs will be put to the test against a Clippers team that field two high-caliber All-Stars in Leonard and George.
“We have a very tough matchup, but this is a great opportunity for us,” Carlisle said. “We know that we’re playing a team on the very highest level of this league.
“It’s going to be very challenging, very physical, etc. But we’ve had a couple of good days of prep and we’ve got one more tomorrow and we’re looking forward to the opportunity.”
The Mavs set a franchise record by scoring at least 140 points in four games this season. They also scored at least 135 points in three consecutive games for the first time in team history.
“That’s one of our strengths – our offense – and that’s just the way we play,” Porzingis said. “We’re a dangerous team on offense and on any given night we can surprise people and we can beat anybody with our offense.
“We want to be a complete team, so we want to keep it going. It doesn’t mean much if you’re not able to win games. So we just want to win games, and then everybody is going to be talking about us.”