PJ Washington is Stepping Up For the Dallas Mavericks When He's Needed Most

Washington has combined for 56 points in Games 2 and 3 against the Oklahoma City Thunder
May 11, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward P.J. Washington (25) reacts after dunking
May 11, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward P.J. Washington (25) reacts after dunking / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

PJ Washington always wanted to play for the Dallas Mavericks. He played part of his high school ball in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and has "been waiting to get here my whole career," as he stated after Saturday's Game 3 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

He finally got that opportunity when the Mavericks traded for him at the trade deadline in February in exchange for Grant Williams and some draft capital, a move that has helped turn the Mavericks' defense around. It's given Washington his first-ever experience in the NBA Playoffs.

It took some getting used to for Washington. In his first seven games in the playoffs (6 games against the Clippers and Game 1 against the Thunder), he combined for 65 points and 38 rebounds (9.3 PPG and 5.4 RPG) while shooting 43.5% from the floor and 34.3% from 3. In these last two games, both wins for Dallas, he has 56 points and 17 rebounds, making 12 of his 23 3-pointers, leading the Mavericks in scoring in both games.

READ MORE: Luka Doncic's Dallas Mavericks Take 2-1 Series Lead Over OKC Thunder

“[I’m] just trying to attack mismatches, take open shots, and be aggressive on both ends of the
floor," Washington said following Game 3. "I thought my teammates did a great job of finding me. I just try convert for them. They believe in me in the corner, so I just try to take my time and knock them down. It’s open shots. I just take them with confidence. I’ve been working on them. That’s all I’m doing honestly.”

His confidence and lack of hesitation to shoot have been pivotal in both wins against the Thunder so far this series.

"He is just comfortable," Mavericks' coach Jason Kidd explained to the media following the game on Saturday. "You can see that the last two games, but you have seen since March that he is comfortable. Being home, being in the playoffs, he is excited. He has been great on both ends and we will need him to continue to do that and get even better on both ends if we want to try and do anything in this series."

With Luka Doncic dealing with just about every injury you can imagine and Kyrie Irving being hounded by OKC's Jalen Williams, the Mavericks have needed someone else to step up and Washington has filled those shoes admirably.

"The confidence we have in P.J. [Washington] on both ends of the floor, not just shooting the 3 but being able to play in the post or being able to run the offense and get us organized," Coach Kidd said. "He has the skillset that he can put the ball on the floor and can make the right plays. We trust that he is going to find the open guy if he isn’t scoring."

"Once we threw it down to him in the post and got him some opportunities on the three-point line, he's been doing well with the reps that he's been getting, the attempts that he's been getting and
alleviating a lot of pressure off of me and Luka [Doncic] and the rest of the guys on the team," Kyrie Irving expressed postgame. "Whenever guys can step up like that, especially in a playoff environment, it works well for us. When our whole team is playing well and other guys are stepping up, the game is beautiful to not only watch but be a part of as a competitor."

OKC has so far been happy with him taking jump shots. They've been trying to get the ball out of Irving's and Doncic's hands and Washington has made them pay. Whether they switch up from that strategy moving forward has yet to be seen or announced.

Game 4 will be on Monday at 8:30 p.m. CST from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

READ MORE: Dallas Mavericks Gut Out Game 3 Win Over OKC Thunder: 3 Game-Changing Plays

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Austin Veazey

AUSTIN VEAZEY

Austin Veazey joined NoleGameday as the Lead Basketball Writer in 2019, while contributing as a football writer, and started as editor for MavericksGameday in 2024. Veazey was a Florida State Men’s Basketball Manager from 2016-2019. Follow Austin on Twitter at @EasyVeazeyNG