When the Dallas Mavericks fell to 15-17 after a 120-116 loss to the Utah Jazz on Christmas Day, nobody would've ever thought that Dallas would eventually be breathing down Utah's neck in the Western Conference standings with just 18 games remaining… and yet, here we are.
Luka Doncic shoots a floater over Rudy Gobert.
Doncic attempts a layup vs. Hassan Whiteside.
Dwight Powell does his best to guard Rudy Gobert.
"Around Christmas time," said former Mavs big man Kristaps Porzingis confidently in early-December. "After Christmas is really when we're going to take off."
To Porzingis' credit, he was right on the money, although ultimately got traded to the Washington Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans in the process.
The Mavs (39-25) are playing their best basketball of the season at the perfect time with the NBA playoffs on the horizon. Dallas has won nine of its last 11 games dating back to Feb. 4. What’s probably even more impressive is the Mavs having a 23-7 record since New Year’s Eve.
'I Still Believe': Doncic, Mavs Defeat Warriors, Force Game 5
Despite nearly blowing a 29-point fourth-quarter lead, the Dallas Mavericks held on to defeat the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.
Mavs-Warriors Game 4 Donuts: Dallas Rains 3s, Avoids Elimination with 119-109 Victory
In what could be their last home game of the season, the Mavericks played with pride and precision and forced a Game 5 Thursday in San Francisco.
RAINED OUT: Mavs Flood Warriors, Win Game 4 - Live Scoring Update: Final
No team in NBA history has rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a series
With another head-to-head matchup against Utah at American Airlines Center on Monday night, Dallas is just one game behind the fourth-seeded Jazz in the West playoff standings. Currently, Utah holds a 2-0 regular season advantage over Dallas with two more meetings to go.
Gobert blocks Doncic’s layup into the stands.
Doncic fights through a tough Jazz defense.
Donovan Mitchell elevates over the Mavs defense for a 3-point shot.
Although there are a handful of teams the Mavs could potentially play in a first-round series — including the Memphis Grizzlies, Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets — a matchup with the Jazz is among those scenarios. If Dallas really wants to test its playoff readiness, it should treat this game with Utah as Game 3 of a series while trying to avoid going in an 0-3 hole.
In Dallas’ most-recent game with Utah a little more than a week ago, the Jazz pulled away with a 114-109 win while Rudy Gobert stifled Luka Doncic down the stretch. Can the Mavs get over the hump and beat the Jazz for the first time this season, especially given that Utah will be on a second night of a back-to-back? Whether it happens or not, one thing is already a given — the Mavs have put themselves in a great position to control their own destiny.
Stay tuned to DallasBasketball.com all day on Monday for Mavs Gameday coverage.