Blog Entry

Dallas Mavericks: The behemoth's puzzle

Posted on: April 6, 2011 6:18 pm
Edited on: April 6, 2011 11:31 pm
Are the Mavericks lying in wait or stumbling to the finish? 
Posted by Matt Moore

The Dallas Mavericks are in-between worlds right now. Like all of the top teams in the league, they're patiently waiting for the playoffs, waiting for the real games to begin. Middle-March through middle-April is a war of attrition, and after losing Caron Butler to a ruptured patellar tendon, the Mavericks are in no condition to take on more casualties. 

But there is the other side of it. You want to hit your stride right now. And the Mavericks aren't there. They've gone .500 over their last 16 games, including a pair of losses to Portland, a pair of losses to the Lakers, and losses to the Spurs, Hornets, and Grizzlies, all of whom they could see in the playoffs at one point or another. It's beginning to feel eerily similar to the Mavericks team we've come to know year after year. Monsters of the regular season, wilt down the stretch, kicked out of the first or second round in stunning fashion. This after a start to the year that had many whispering about being Finals contenders. After all, the Lakers have not met Dirk Nowitzki and his Mavericks in the playoffs during their run with the current core, and if anyone can match Pau Gasol's production, it's the Big German Machine. But now they're the team Portland and New Orleans are aiming for, trying to join the Warriors and Spurs as teams in the past four years to eliminate the Mavericks in the first round. 

But there is one differential here. The Mavericks know where they need to improve. From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"We didn't shoot the ball well [the last three games] and so we spent some extra time today on shooting," Carlisle said. "Our first half against Portland was a setback. The rest of the trip I thought we played solidly on defense."

As the Mavs prepare for Wednesday's home game against Denver, they do so knowing that they have to pick up the pace on the offensive end of the floor.

"I think defensively it was actually a decent trip for us," Nowitzki said. "We've been sliding defensively here in the new year."
via Stretch run is no time to slow down | Mavericks/NBA | Sports News and Videos on the Dallas Co... .

Oddly enough, the Mavericks are playing Denver on Wednesday night for the right not to play them, in a way. A win would go a long way towards cementing Dallas as the No. 3 seed in the West. (Update: Mavs lose 104-96 to Denver, now are just a game above OKC for that No.3 seed.) But bigger than that is Dallas continuing to get their defense back in line. In the past 16 games, the Mavericks allowed 104 points per 100 possesions, which is significantly worse than their 10th ranked season defense in that category  (allowing 102.7).  What's most concerning, however, is the past four games of that road trip, which saw them give up an average of 108.3 points per 100 possessions, which is terrible on a whole other level. Yes, the Lakers game was an exception, but they also gave up over 115 per 100 possessions to the Blazers.  (Update: The Mavs gave up a 114 efficiency Wednesday night to the Nuggets.)  The Mavericks have to get back to more solid defense. 

More on the Mavs
How do they do that? Well, the easiest answer is to get Caron Butler back. But since he's out until at least the second round , the Mavericks will have to isolate their problems and find solutions. One significant issue is Jose Barea's role. Barea is a speedy, talented guard that plays his tail off every time he enters the game. He also has the worst defensive rating of any Maverick. And in March, with Shawn Marion battling injuries, The Mavericks were forced to play smaller. In April, Barea has played 25 minutes a game in both losses. The Mavericks need a better wing defender. What's particularly interesting is that the Mavericks' slide defensively coincides with increased time for Rodrigue Beaubois returning from injury. It'll be key to see how Rick Carlisle handles Beaubois in the playoffs.

Lost in the look at their record is the fact that Dallas dropped two back-to-back to Golden State and Portland at the end of a four game road trip. Which at the end of the season is a recipe for slogging off games. Our own Ben Golliver isn't concerned about Dallas , and he's right, this team still has the ability to buckle down and play elite ball in the Western Conference.  Dirk Nowitzki is still one of the best competitors in the game, Jason Kidd has played surprisingly well this season, they have center depth for the first time in years,  and when clicking, are one of the most dangerous teams in the league. 

But at some point they have to get into playoff gear. Wednesday night presents a fine opportunity to do so against the Nuggets. The Nuggets have the top offense in the land. The Mavericks need to find ways to exploit the talent advantages they have. Oklahoma City found out Tuesday night how stiff of a counter-punch the Nuggets can land. If the Mavericks don't right their defensive ship and get their heads together, they could be seeing a lost more of the Nuggets in the first round, an even scarier first-round prospect than Portland, Memphis, or New Orleans. Dallas knows what it needs to do. Getting there is another question. 

Deciphering whether the Mavericks are a contender getting their legs under them or an albatross crashing to the finish line is a puzzle that will be wrought between now and the end of their season. But uncertainty has seldom held the promise of success.

Since: Oct 16, 2006
Posted on: April 7, 2011 1:10 pm

Dallas Mavericks: The behemoth's puzzle

You are obviously very young and yes a casual fan - when you don't mention Bill Walton voted one of the top 50 players of ALL-Time.

Mavericks vs the Blazers:

All-Time record the Mavericks are only 18 wins & 46 losses against the Blazers.

Last season the Mavs lost 3 of 4 against the Blazers, this year they split - with massive injuries to the Blazers.

The Blazers have a World Championship the Mavs have none .

The Blazers have 3 Western Conference Championships the Mavs only have 1.

Now that we have Laker and Celtic fans snickering at us --- the Mav's are not built for the playoffs.

Since: Sep 19, 2007
Posted on: April 7, 2011 12:58 pm

Dallas Mavericks: The behemoth's puzzle

You got me 101... I don't know crap about the trailblazers... I only follow the Mavs and the championship teams in the NBA. I can only give you 2 players that I really care about from the trailblazers organization. That would be Clyde "The Glide" Drexler and Lamarcus Aldridge. What about your NBA knowledge on the Dallas Mavericks? Will you be honest and say you don't know crap?
News Flash: The mavericks have one of the longest runs of qualifying for the playoffs in the last 10+ years...
Look it up.

Since: Oct 16, 2006
Posted on: April 7, 2011 11:25 am

Dallas Mavericks: The behemoth's puzzle

Enjoy portlands return to the playoffs... It will be a very short lived run.
Portland has been in the playoffs last three years in a row - and was in from 1977 to 2003 17 years in a row.  Portland & OKC has been tagged as the best young teams in the league -- you are obviously just a casual fan.  Tha Mavericks history is one of the worst in the league.

Since: Feb 10, 2010
Posted on: April 7, 2011 9:33 am

Dallas Mavericks: The behemoth's puzzle

Are they lying in wait or stumbling?  Who knows in today's NBA.  Over the past month the Lakers have been throttling people and now they look like the red headed stepson that shares Staples Center with them (I don't mean Griffin either, but the Clippers as a whole.)  The Mavs could be playing crappy this week and be world beaters next week.  Every team in the NBA is too unpredictable to decipher if they are contenders or pretenders.

Since: Sep 19, 2007
Posted on: April 7, 2011 9:04 am

Dallas Mavericks: The behemoth's puzzle

Ok 101, choose 2 of your best 4 players and put them on your bench. How do you think the blazers would do in that situation. Enjoy portlands return to the playoffs... It will be a very short lived run.

Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: April 7, 2011 6:57 am

Dallas Mavericks: The behemoth's puzzle

Let's face it guys...Jason Kidd is old, and Dirk Nowitzki is getting there. Maverick's Coach, Rick Carlisle, is not going to lead this team into the promised land against the likes of the Lakers or Spurs. Heck, the way they are playing, they will be lucky to get out of the first round. They had the right coach(Avery Johnson), but owner Mark Cuban threw him under the bus after the Mavericks failed to get out of the first round of the playoffs. The cause was Cuban trading away Devin Harris to the Nets to get Jason Kidd. Ever since then, they've been an underachieving team. Avery Johnson brought this team to the NBA finals with defense and how has Rick Carlisle done?

The Mavs don't need Caron Butler...he's only an average cog in the machine...what they do need is to play like they did earlier this year when they won 18-19. What happened to that team? They didn't need Butler for that. The Mavericks will probably give up the number three seed and play the Nuggets, or Trailblazers or whomever. Regardless, they are not getting past round way, no how.

Since: Jan 15, 2008
Posted on: April 6, 2011 11:06 pm

Dallas Mavericks: The behemoth's puzzle

*& Center

Since: Jan 15, 2008
Posted on: April 6, 2011 11:05 pm

Dallas Mavericks: The behemoth's puzzle

Take the starting point guard off of almost any team in the NBA & see how they do...

Since: Oct 16, 2006
Posted on: April 6, 2011 10:18 pm

Dallas Mavericks: The behemoth's puzzle

The Mavericks should change their mascot to the Oreo's because they are soft in the middle.

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