NBA: 3 February takeaways and 3 March predictions

NBA Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
NBA Portland Trail Blazers Damian Lillard (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /
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Dallas Mavericks
Dallas Mavericks Luka Doncic (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Exploring NBA takeaways from February and predictions for the month of March.

It feels like the NBA season just started, but as the league finalized All-Star team rosters and we turn the calendar to March, it feels like the clock is really starting to tick for a lot of teams looking to make a push.

February may be the shortest month, but it saw plenty of action. We’ve got preseason contenders smashing the panic button, teams we thought would be tanking pushing for playoff spots, and virtually the entire Eastern Conference doing their best to make sure no one gets above .500.

So before we look ahead to March, let’s recap a few of February’s most interesting stories, starting with a quiet resurgence taking place in Dallas.

NBA February Takeaway: Luka is incredible, but Kristaps is the key

Welp, it didn’t take long for Dallas to get back into the playoff mix. After losing five straight and eight of their last 10 games in January, the Mavs have turned in the 4th best record in the NBA during the month of February.

So what changed? Did their horrible defense get better? Nope, it actually got worse, but it didn’t matter because Dallas’ stars went to another level on offense. Luka Doncic has been unreal, he’s shooting the lights out from three this month and his big shots down the stretch in their win over Boston have been rightfully praised. But the difference between Dallas losing all those games and finding ways to win them now is that Luka’s sidekick has finally risen to the occasion.

Just look at Kristaps Porzingis’ stats in wins vs losses. Luka’s averages are marginally better in wins, but Porzingis’ is night and day. In wins, he’s averaging 22.4 points and 8 rebounds on 52/42/86 shooting splits. In losses, those shooting numbers plummet down to 18 points per game on 43/28/84 splits.

So, now knowing that, it’s not surprising that during this month when the Mavericks are playing their best basketball, Porzingis is having one of the best months of his career. He’s putting up 22 points, eight rebounds, and just under two blocks per game while also nearly entering the rare 50/40/90 club with his shooting this month (free throws are at 89%, but we can round up).

Porzingis has had his ups and downs and gets a lot of criticism when Dallas loses games, but he’s the key to them being a contender in the Western Conference and has been a worthy number two option next to Luka Doncic as of late. If he’s going to get the blame when things are bad, he deserves some of the credit when things turn around.