At the start of the year, the Dallas Mavericks were given no respect from all the national media outlets. Projected to finish well out of the playoffs by everyone and a team no network had interest in showcasing, a team full of players with chips on their shoulders shot out of the gates to a 9-4 record. After winning six straight to get to that mark, Dallas dropped two against Western Conference elites, losing in Oklahoma City and Memphis in very different fashion.
Sunday in OKC, they couldn’t stop the Thunder from scoring. Tuesday in Memphis they could not score. I guess they really didn’t stop Memphis, either. 117-114 and 110-96 L’s turned a sparkling 9-4 record into 9-6 with the San Antonio Spurs waiting on Wednesday in another tough Western Conference road match-up.
The scoring struggles, more specifically the pathetic shooting woes that plagued Dallas from start to finish the night before in Memphis did not go away as the team traveled south to San Antone. After shooting 39% Tuesday the Mavs shot 41% Wednesday. They fought down to the wire against the second best team in the West but you just can’t lay that big of an egg up on the offensive end and expect to beat the Spurs.
The Spurs shot even worse than the Mavs (40.7%), but it came down to the number of chances at the hoop. Late in the game with San Antonio up 82-80, LaMarcus Aldridge, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker all missed field goal attempts but the Mavs couldn’t grab a rebound and Kawhi Leonard capitalized on chance number four of the possession. Four. Four damn chances.
The Mavericks are a whole hell of a lot better than most people thought, but they are still a team that cannot afford to make too many mistakes and has to play at such a high level of basketball to put away teams.
After the very fun six game win streak, the Mavs have dropped three straight in equally frustrating fashion. Hopefully they turn this trend upside down but just like last year’s team, the Mavericks are once again struggling against the better teams in the NBA, albeit through just 16 games.
The losing skid drops the Mavericks to 9-7 (a record we sure hope the Dallas Cowboys reach!) but they are now 0-5 against teams with a better record than them. Toronto, Charlotte, Oklahoma City, Memphis (tiebreaker) and the Spurs.
Obviously if the Mavs want to do anything beyond proving critics wrong and making some noise, this needs to be fixed.
Final: San Antonio Spurs (12-3) 88, Dallas Mavericks (9-7) 83
Mavericks: Wesley Matthews, 15 (6-16 FG, 3-10 3PT)
Spurs: Kawhi Leonard, 26 (21.5 PPG, 14th in NBA entering game)
Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki, 14 (season high)
Spurs: Tim Duncan, 9
Mavericks: Deron Williams, 9 (season high)
Spurs: Tony Parker, 8
Mavericks: Deron Williams, 1 (only team block)
Spurs: Tim Duncan, 2 (1.7, tied for 10th in NBA entering game)
Mavericks: Deron Williams, 3
Spurs: Kawhi Leonard & Patty Mills, 2
Mavericks: Justin Anderson, +7
Spurs: Tim Duncan, +13