129 Days. That’s how long it’s been since the Dallas Mavericks were under .500. After losing to the New Orleans Pelicans on November 10th of 2015 Dallas fell to 3-4. They then won six in a row and #MFFL’s were buzzin’ about the possibilities with this new (again) Mavericks team.
The Mavericks were five games over .500 after that win streak, and hovered around such territory for most of the season. But since the All-Star Break, the Mavericks are 5-8 including the horrifying five game losing streak, the longest string of losses for Dallas since 2012.
With Friday night’s blowout defeat to the defending champion Golden State Warriors –although it was a two point game with 10 minutes left– the Mavericks carved into another patch of new territory that they haven’t experienced in a long time. Not only under .500 for the first time since November but they haven’t been under .500 this late into the season since 2012 and with the second appearance from that season in this article you can tell that was an anomaly in what we expect from a team led by Dirk Nowitzki.
As a depressing refresher, 2012 was the OJ Mayo-Darren Collison–Chris Kaman–Mike James–Eddy Curry–Derek Fisher–Troy Murphy season and it was just pathetic. But it had the makings of pathetic. This team is supposed to be better. Big fish, though!
Wesley Matthews can’t hit a three pointer, Deron Williams is a renaissance project gone right but still a project no less and Chandler Parsons has severely underperformed and left last night’s game with a right hamstring injury.
The next piece of bad news has to do with the Playoff picture. Utah has won three in a row and stands just a 1/2 game back of Dallas for the finalWestern Conference Playoffs spot. The hopes of finishing 6th and avoiding a death match with Golden State or San Antonio is still actually in play, despite a 34-35 record.
And it’s directly ahead of us.
The Mavericks don’t exactly hold their own hand anymore, but the imaginary battle to avoid the two Western Conference titans by finishing 6th –above Portland, Houston and Utah– still remains in play. And the Mavericks, believe it or not amidst all this March Badness, still control their own destiny.
The best way to make up ground on an opponent is to play them and, yes, beat them. The Mavericks and Trail Blazers start a home-and-home tomorrow at the American Airlines Center and then will head to Portland Wednesday night to complete the mini-series.
At this point we would absolutely take a split. I mean, beating the Blazers at home would constitute defeating a winning team at home and the Mavericks haven’t done that since January 18th against the Celtics, over two months ago!
But if either team were to sweep this series and thus take the head-to-head lead with 10 games remaining, it would be a tremendous advantage. If Dallas sweeps they go up just a half game. If Portland sweeps as most are predicting than it’s a 3.5 game lead and that’s all she wrote for the 6th spot.
Really, that could be all she wrote for 7th and perhaps 8th. The Mavericks need to find some wins down the stretch, and after Portland it’s a trip out to Golden State where the Dubs have won 50 straight home games.
I’m not a believer in must-wins when you’re not in a Playoff series, but the final dozen games of the regular season is essentially one big series if Dallas plans to play in the NBA Playoffs this season.
If that’s even a good thing.
The Mavericks host the Portland Trail Blazers at 3 P.M. CST.