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Mavs' Offense Thriving Through 'Unselfish' Approach Led By Kyrie Irving, Luka Doncic

The Mavs have started the season with an 8-2 record, led by the execution of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving in a faster offensive play style.

NEW ORLEANS — Amid an 8-2 start to the season, the Dallas Mavericks are catching a rhythm by finding opportunities to play faster while continuing to leverage the half-court brilliance of being an attack led by Luka Doncic

"Everyone's being unselfish," Mavs coach Jason Kidd said. "When you look at Luka and Kai didn't even have this game, I thought those were two leaders at the time but just unselfish, playing with that pace. This is different than we're used to, so the guys have really bought into it and trusted that we can play faster and also play with the pass."

In their 136-124 win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, Dallas finished with 136 points with a season-high 108 possessions, 30 fastbreak points, and 53 3-point attempts while turning it over a season-low six times. Kyrie Irving and Doncic were in a rhythm, with Irving recording 35 points and seven assists while Doncic had 30 points and nine assists.

"I think we're playing unselfish basketball. We're just sharing the ball," Doncic said. "We knew they would have the low-man early there, so there were a lot of corner 3s for us. We got them up 53 [3-point attempts]. Not all of them, but most of them were really good shots. That's what we have to do [going forward]." 

The results are apparent for the Mavs' pace as they are at 101.80 (9th) on the season, up substantially from the 97.21 (28th) mark in 2022-23. Dallas has gone from being among the league's lowest in pace to being inside the top 10, with recent games having the team placed even higher.  

As the Mavs continue to establish continuity playing faster, Irving highlighted the need to limit turnovers, keep the opposition off the free throw line, and consistently get stops on defense. Getting into free-flowing half-court actions only helps as opposed to having to slow it down and get into a set. 

"It's easy to play that way when you're not turning the ball over, you're keeping the other team off the free throw line, you're getting stops consecutively, and you have spurts of four or five minutes where a play isn't being called," Irving said. "It's just constant pace running; we're running to our spots and remembering the little details that make us a great squad. Individually, we have talent, but as a team, collectively, we're hitting on all cylinders. Like tonight, you can see a result of that.

"But the question for us that we always have to answer is, do we want to be consistent with it? And that's something that starts with our preparation and how much rest we get," Irving explained. "It starts with how serious we're taking these teams in the league and setting a precedent for ourselves so we know our style of play sooner than other teams do."

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic celebrating after a big shot. 

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic celebrating after a big shot. 

There won't always be situations when playing faster will be an option, which makes having the versatility to slow it down in the half-court leveraging the scoring and playmaking brilliance of Doncic and Irving. The Mavs are once again the NBA's most efficient half-court offense, generating 1.068 points per possession, making them a daunting matchup, being able to thrive by speeding things up or slowing it down.

"You know that there is a variety of ways that you can play, and you can still be efficient regardless of the style of play," Irving said. "I think that's the beauty of this: figuring out how to be a complete team night to night."

With it being early in the season, the Mavs are still establishing roles, with minutes and shot attempts naturally set to fluctuate for some players in the rotation. However, a general mindset Irving wants the team to have is to embrace the success of the collective by keeping a positive attitude and focusing on the nuances without getting too high or low based on day-to-day results. 

"We have roles that we're establishing, but we also can play other roles on this team. I think that part of the diversity in our locker room is just having guys who can do other good things that complement our team well and still keep the team first," Irving said. "There will be some shot attempts that will differentiate between player to player, and minutes will differentiate, but what's consistent is our attitude and how we treat the basketball game as a whole. 

"Whatever minutes you're in there, it's the attitude is making an impact and be proud that you're making a positive impact for the team," Irving explained. "And if you're not, then you have to give your teammate a chance to do that. So it's healthy. It's a team sport. Everybody wants to be out there, but when you have some veterans and some maturity, you have some honest conversations. When it ends like tonight, it seems like everything's working well, and it's not like we forgot about the Raptors beating us."

Given how the Mavs' previous season ended with a 38-44 record and failed to qualify for the play-in tournament in the Western Conference, many will compare the team's current execution to prior results. Irving is eager for those comparisons to end while maintaining a focus on building habits without getting too high after an 8-2 start.

"I can't wait for last year's comparisons to end," Irving said. "I wasn't here for the whole entire year, but I am responsible for part of it, and I take my accountability for that, too. But I think this year, as I said the other night, we had a great training camp, and 8-2, we're not satisfied. 

"We know we don't win the championship from the first 10 games," Irving explained. "We still have some things to clean up. It's no time to be super happy about these wins. We know it's coming down the line."

After competing against the Pelicans in a two-game mini-series, the Mavs will face the Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks to wrap up a four-game road trip.