Its not often that a team can be 18 games above .500 and still be stressed out, but that’s exactly what is happening down here in Big D. Despite having a 45-27 after Tuesday’s victory over the rival San Antonio Spurs 101-94, many fans and media still arent sure what to make of the Dallas Mavericks.
To say that the past two weeks have been up and down would be an understatement. It started with a blowout loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-94 — a game in which no one wearing a Mavs uniform really seemed ready to play. And because of the blase’ performance the newest Mav, Amar’e Stoudemire called his teammates out about it. The fact that the team took the tongue lashing from someone who has only been on the roster since the all-star break shows how desperate they were to right the ship.
It appeared that the tough talk worked as the team won its next two games over teams fighting for playoff position — and in the case of the Thunder a spot in the post-season all together.
In the 129-99 victory over the L.A. Clippers head coach Rick Carlise got a full team effort as seven players scored in double figures led by Chandler Parson’s 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including five three-pointers.
Against the Thunder — who were without stars Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka — Dallas got another full team effort and was once again led by Parson’s 31 points and four rebounds in the box score. Despite finishing the game with 24 points Monta Ellis took 20 shots and unfortunately for fans of made buckets, this was a bad omen of things to come for the nine-year veteran and his Mavs teammates despite the 119-115 victory.
The team hosted a struggling Orlando Magic team and despite the obvious talent gap finished the game a lot closer than Coach Carlisle would have liked. Part of that was due to the 20 team turnovers — including nine by point guard Rajon Rondo.
A 20-4 run in the third quarter was the teams ultimate undoing as they dropped a tough one to division rival the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizz were able to bounce back nicely after a tough loss to the lowly Detoit pistons just three days earlier. The Mavericks had no answer defensively against Memphis as they allowed 53% shooting from the field and 44% from three-point. And while Dallas improved on their turnovers by three, that number is still too high if a team considers itself a serious title contender.
Those title aspirations took a major hit in Phoenix as Dallas dropped a heartbreaker Sunday 98-92. After rallying from a 17 point deficit, the Mavericks could not hold a six point lead, thanks in part to questionable play calling from Coach Carlisle and a shot-happy Monta Ellis. Despite not having it on the evening Ellis continued to hoist up ill-advised shots and finished the night with an abysmal 4-of-22 shooting night. The performance some in the local media question whether Ellis is even the long-term answer at the shooting guard position and could it be time to move on if Ellis opts out of his contract after this season.
In typical Jekyll & Hyde fashion, on Tuesday the Mavs turned out another successful performance over San Antonio and gave their fans here in Dallas hopes of being able to be competitive once the post-season begins in a few weeks.
Ellis bounced back from the terrible shooting night to make 16-of-27 shots on his way to a team leading and season high 38 points on the evening. The defense stepped up huge as only two Spurs — Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green scored in double figures and they outrebounded the reigning NBA Champs by six.
But the question becomes can the team sustain the success over a long period of time. With ten games remaining in the season and still jockeying for Western Conference playoff position, there’s not much room for error — especially when five of those remaining games are against teams fighting for playoff position as well.
This team has the talent and the coaching to win a series, or two, but they also have been so inconsistent that they could be swept in the first round. Will we ever find out who the real Mavs team is… only time will tell