The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder 146-111 on Saturday. It was an all-around impressive victory for Dallas, as they earned a statement win against one of the best teams in the Western Conference. PJ Washington Jr. and Daniel Gafford performed well in their Mavericks debuts, and Luka Doncic reacted to Washington and Gafford's first game in a Mavs jersey after practice on Sunday.
“Great, amazing,” Doncic said. “Just happy they are here.”
Luka addressed Washington and Gafford's defensive potential, and also noted that their strengths can translate to the offensive end of the floor for the Mavs as well.
“Both guys are very athletic,” Doncic said. “PJ can guard one through five… Gafford can guard one through five. They are both very athletic. We got bigger which is better for our defense, and offense obviously.”
Joining a new team and immediately making an impact isn't an easy thing to do. Gafford and Washington seemingly made the necessary adjustments without any issues, something Doncic noticed.
“It's tough to come to a new team and get all the players and all the defensive schemes, you know, just play basketball….Step by step they're getting it. It's going to be way easier for us.”
Mavericks trending in a positive direction
The Mavs have won four games in a row and are starting to find their groove. Dallas was already beginning to play well on a consistent basis before the trades, and adding Daniel Gafford and PJ Washington Jr. will only help matters moving forward.
The Mavericks are still without Dereck Lively II and Dante Exum, as they have already been ruled out for Monday's game versus the Wizards. Nevertheless, the Mavs are playing well and will benefit once both Lively and Exum return.
The All-Star break is right around the corner. Dallas is hoping to maintain their momentum through the next couple of games before the break. The Mavs' next two games are against struggling opponents in the Wizards and San Antonio Spurs. With that being said, Dallas will obviously not take either team for granted.
In the end, however, the fact is that this Mavs team is better at the moment than they were a week ago. Washington and Gafford's impacts have already been felt in a major way. Of course, Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have continued to perform at elite levels.
The victory against the Thunder was especially important. Oklahoma City is one of the best young teams not just in the Western Conference, but in the NBA. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is an MVP candidate while the rest of their core has stepped up around him. So Dallas' victory hints at the Mavericks' newfound potential.
When asked what the Mavs can learn from Saturday's big win, Luka gave a brief but honest answer.
“I think we're a good team,” Doncic said. “That's what we can learn.”
This “good team” will try to keep their winning streak alive on Monday night against the Wizards at the American Airlines Center.