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P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford helping to change culture in Dallas

The Mavs' trade deadline acquisitions have been instrumental in turning around Dallas' season.

P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford have been key for Dallas during the 2024 NBA playoffs.

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Thunder at Mavs Game 3 | 3:30 ET, ABC | Tied, 1-1

The Mavs, as the story goes, had had their eyes on Daniel Gafford for five years, going back to his pre-Draft workouts in 2019.

Especially after he’d shot 86.4% from the field against them in that half-decade, posting a 175 OffRtg in 10 meetings.

Luka Doncic, as it turned out, had been looking for something, too.

  • 🗣 Said Doncic to after the Trade Deadline: “I think we got two really good players. We added some size to our team and a backup center, which I wanted like three years already.”

Dream Come True: So when the Mavs traded for Gafford and P.J. Washington at the Trade Deadline, everyone got their wish(es).

And almost exactly three months later, with Luka laboring and Kyrie Irving having an off-shooting night in Game 2 – down 1-0 to the top-seeded Thunder – Gafford and Washington showed why.

  • In Game 2, the pair combined for 42 points – 29 from Washington – and a 62.5% clip from the floor, as the Mavs won 119-110
  • Towers Of Power: In Washington’s first postseason and Gafford’s second, Washington ranks third on the team in NetRtg and mpg, while Gafford ranks second on the team in DefRtg (min. 20 mpg)
  • 🗣 Said Washington on showcasing his game in the Playoffs: “It means everything. Obviously we have a lot of great players on this team, and everybody’s been welcoming since day 1. It feels like a family atmosphere for me.”

Instant Impact: Luka and Kyrie’s partnership stole the headlines for most of the second half of the year. But Gafford and Washington quietly revolutionized the Mavs.

  • Only. Team. Ever. Led by the two, the Mavs became the only team in NBA history to jump from 25th or worse in rebounds & blocks per game in their first 52 games … to 10th or better in their last 30
  • Jumps Everywhere: Dallas went from 22nd in DefRtg before the Deadline to 7th after it, 26th in Def Rebound Rate to 6th … and after allowing teams to shoot 1.5% better than average, Dallas held them to 1.9% below their average after the Deadline
  • Not Slowing Down: The Mavs lead all Playoffs teams in blocks per game, and sit 8th in DefRtg
  • 🗣️ Said Mavs coach Jason Kidd: “Our defense changed when they got here. They’re not gonna complain. You don’t have to run a play for them. They want to do whatever it takes for the team to win.”
  • Kidd: “We’ve said this since they’ve gotten here, over and over – we’ve been consistent that they’ve changed the culture. Our defense came when they arrived.”

With the series heading to Dallas, who’s going up 2-1? Find out on ABC at 3:30 ET.