“This last road trip left a sour taste in our mouth. We felt like we left a few on the table there we could have gotten.” – Chandler Parsons
After a six game winning streak capped off a 9-4 start nobody saw coming, things felt pretty good in Mavs-ville. Mavshood? MFFLand? Dirksbürg? But just like last year, this team just can’t beat their superiors. A three game road trip saw the team lose a thriller to the Durant-less Thunder in OKC, get smacked in Memphis and then fall just short to the Spurs. The Mavs shot 39% in Memphis and 41% in San Antonio. From three point range, they shot 32% against the Grizzlies and then just a god awful 27% against the Spurs. You don’t need an archeologist to tell you this has to change. And if you had one that’s not an entirely credible source anyway.
At the time of defeat, every team the Mavericks have lost to this year except the 8-8 Clippers had a better record than the Mavs. Every win? The best record of the wins belongs to the 9-7 Boston Celtics. Aside from the Clippers and Jazz, who are even with wins and losses, that’s the only win against a team with more W’s than L’s to their name.
Yes, it’s still early and this is (yet another frikkin’) new team the Mavericks have. But we’re coming up on a quarter of the way through the year, and soon it will be Christmas and seriously things move fast in a league where you play three to four times a week. We’re getting to the point where “it’s still early” won’t be an excuse much longer.
However, the “we’re still not fully healthy” excuse is slightly less forgivable, because Chandler Parsons is only starting to look any sorts of comfortable on the court and Wesley Matthews, while his minutes restriction is nearly caput, needs to start shooting the ball.
That theme falls in line with the whole team. The numbers absolutely do not lie. The Mavericks are 17th in the league in Field Goal Percentage, 23rd in Three Point Percentage and while respectable, 12th in Free Throw Percentage is very non-Mavericks like. These things need to be fixed, because the latter stages of the Dirk Nowitzki era set a blueprint for a mediocre defensive team. The Mavericks are allowing over 100 points per game (100.3) to their opponents, which isn’t too bad considering a lot of NBA teams are just trying to outscore opponents right now. However, the Mavs are 26th in opponent shooting percentage, and it’s killing them whenever they can’t score.
This team has to be able to score. No room for error. Elvis Andrus? Too soon.
As for the Nuggets, I predicted them to bottom out the West in my NBA Preview that you read. But behind must-see rookie Emmanuel Mudiay, they’re actually treading altitude thus far. The Nuggets are obviously in for a rebuild this season and will end up at the bottom of the West with the Lakers eventually, but right now they’re putting together some respectable performances, including two wins against the currently turrible Houston Rockets.
The injury bug hasn’t been a problem thus far for Danilo Gallinari (read: GALLLINAAAAAAAARI), but fellow Carmelo Anthony trade returnWilson Chandler is out for the season with hip surgery. Gallinari has come back from a torn ACL with a super strong season. He missed all of 2013-14 and was limited to just 59 games in 14-15, but so far this year is putting up potential All-Star numbers. He’s averaging a career high 18.1 PPG along with 6.6 rebounds and two and a half assists.
This game is all about the Mavs bouncing back, though. And they definitely need to take advantage of this one game home stand. The Mavericks hit the road for Sacramento and Portland following this contest, playing away from the American Airlines Center as they have done for 10 of their first 16 games this year.
Also worthy of note, I will now have seen the Mavericks play the Nuggets twice this year, once in the pre-season and tonight. I think that’s two more Nuggets games than most Nuggets fans.
Mavericks: J.J. Barea (ankle) Out
Nuggets: Kenneth Faried (ankle) Questionable
Gary Harris (concussion) Questionable
Joffrey Lauvergne (not the Game of Thrones guy) (back) Questionable
Wilson Chandler (hip) Out
Jusuf Nurkic (knee) Out
Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki, 17.4
Nuggets: Danilo Gallinari, 18.1
Mavericks: Zaza Pachulia, 9.4
Nuggets: Kenneth Faried, 9.1
Mavericks: Deron Williams, 5.7
Nuggets: Emmanuel Mudiay, 6.1
Mavericks: Deron Williams, 1.5
Nuggets: Will Barton, 1.3
Mavericks: Dwight Powell, 0.8
Nuggets: Kenneth Faried, 0.9