DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks' 2023-24 regular season came to an end on Sunday. It was not an ideal ending to the regular season, as Dallas was defeated by the Oklahoma City Thunder 135-86. However, a number of the Mavs starters and key role players did not play, including Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, Daniel Gafford, and Dante Exum.

Still, the Mavs ended the season strong with the exception of Sunday's game and Friday's 107-89 loss against the Detroit Pistons. (Doncic and Irving also did not play in that game) They had previously went 16-2 across an 18-game stretch. Dallas will remain confident as they prepare to practice this week for their first round series against the Los Angeles Clippers.

So what makes this specific Mavs team special? After all, every team that ends up making a deep playoff run typically has a certain identity. A veteran who has played in the NBA since 2011, and therefore understands what it takes for a team to win on a consistent basis, recently revealed Dallas' driving force behind their success.

Markieff Morris has the answer

Dallas Mavericks forward Markieff Morris (88) scores a basket against Detroit Pistons forward Taj Gibson (67) during the second half at American Airlines Center.
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Mavs veteran Markieff Morris has played for contenders and underwhelming teams during his career. He has seen the ups and downs of the NBA grind.

Following the Mavs shoot-around on Friday, I asked Morris what makes this specific Mavericks team special.

“The belief we have in each other,” Morris said on Friday. “A lot of us have a really good relationship off the court. That helps us on the court with being able to keep each other accountable.”

Chemistry has been a major talking point for the Mavs. Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic have learned to play alongside one another, and the rest of the team has followed. Dallas looks like a well-oiled machine as a result.

The Clippers, though, will present a challenge. Los Angeles is dealing with injury trouble, however. Regardless, the Clippers' potential is undeniable.

Mavericks ready for playoffs, Clippers series

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) shoots over LA Clippers guard James Harden (1) during the second quarter at American Airlines Center.
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Dallas is prepared for the postseason. There are feelings of excitement swirling around the roster.

“I think it's going to be a great matchup,” Mavericks guard Josh Green told me during an exclusive interview on Friday. “The Clippers have a great team, great coaching staff. I think it will be great… There's obviously history between both teams in the playoffs. It's great. Our team loves competing and loves that environment. So I think we are ready to go and I think it should be exciting.”

Irving and Doncic will lead the way. Their playoff experience will be crucial. But how are Dallas' young players feeling?

Jaden Hardy, a 21-year-old guard, made his NBA debut during the 2022-23 campaign. He projects to play a pivotal role in Dallas' future, but has not received much playing time in 2023-24. Hardy could see some minutes in the postseason, though.

The Mavs guard is excited for his first experience in the NBA playoffs, and he will be ready to help the team regardless of how much on-court action he ends up receiving.

“We are super excited headed into the postseason,” Hardy said following Friday's game. “Great energy in the locker room… We are looking forward to the playoffs. Guys are focused on that. It's going to be super fun and we are super excited, can't wait.”

The Mavericks are ready to go. Game 1 of the Mavs-Clippers series is scheduled for Sunday in Los Angeles.