DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks were hovering around the NBA Play-In Tournament spots before the trade deadline. Mavs president of basketball operations Nico Harrison made two trades at the deadline that would change the trajectory of Dallas' 2023-24 season. The Mavs went 21-8 during the regular season after acquiring PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford in games they played, via StatMuse.

The Mavs defense had previously dealt with inconsistency. After acquiring Washington and Gafford, Dallas' defense became one of the best in the league. Both players have also contributed offensively.

Their contributions have carried into the NBA playoffs. The Mavs earned a 114-101 Game 6 win over the Los Angeles Clippers to clinch a first-round series victory. Washington scored 14 points to go along with five rebounds and two steals in the win. Meanwhile, Gafford added 13 points and six rebounds.

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd addressed Washington and Gafford's impact on the team since the trade deadline after the Mavericks' Friday victory.

“They're very important when you look at the culture of our team,”Kidd said. “Our defense changed when they got here. They're not going to complain, you don't have to run a play for them. They want to do whatever it takes for the team to win. We've said this since they've gotten here over and over… They've changed the culture. And just understanding that our defense came when they arrived. We needed that in this series and we're going to need that going forward. Those two are very important to what we're trying to do.”

PJ Washington, Daniel Gafford's immense impact on Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks forward P.J. Washington (25) and center Daniel Gafford (21) come off the court during the fourth quarter against the LA Clippers during game three of the first round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at the American Airlines Center.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Mavs ended up clinching the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference. Of course, Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic led the way in reference to Dallas' success. That was also the case on Friday, as the Mavs star-studded duo combined for 58 points.

But Dallas needed further depth and reliable players on the roster. Gafford and Washington answered the call.

Washington also spoke on Friday night. He commented on his relationship with Gafford, as the two have been consistently mentioned alongside one another since the trade deadline.

“I been knowing Daniel since like middle school,” Washington said. “He's from Arkansas and I'm obviously from here so we used to play AAU against each other all the time. I mean, Dan, I've been knowing him, he's familiar. For me, it was great finally getting to play with him. The chemistry was already there. I already knew what he could do, he knew what I could do on the floor. It's special being able to play with him.”

Washington and Gafford's play has been impressive. Additionally, they both provide plenty of energy.

Gafford is an intense player who loves to engage with the crowd. Washington posed during Game 3 which became a viral moment.  In fact, the Mavericks had images of the pose on seats at the American Airlines Center for Game 6.

The Mavericks still have work to do. Their second-round matchup is going to prove to be a challenge. The Oklahoma City Thunder performed well throughout the season and cruised to a sweep of the New Orleans Pelicans in the first-round of the NBA playoffs.

Dallas is confident, though. PJ Washington and Daniel Gafford will continue to have an immense impact moving forward.