Hop Aboard The Dallas Mavericks Roller Coaster!
Here we are again, back on the roller coaster.
But exactly what kind of roller coaster are we, the Mavs fans, riding this season?
It certainly isn't the Texas Giant. This team's dips aren't that dramatic and their highs certainly aren't that high. No, this is a season best equated to the Runaway Mine Train.
What? You outgrew that ride? OK, I'll cut you some slack just this once.
Think about it, though: Dallas' season has been quite predicable this year. Sure, there have been moments to make a fan proud (starting the season with a win over the Lakers). And there have been those that made the fanbase weep .(I mean, losing to the Raptors? Are you fucking kidding me? The Raptors?)
But, thus far, things have been fairly even-keeled. Well, far as roller coasters go, at least.
This past week has certainly been an interesting one — one more on the dip side of the coaster than the high side.
The team played — and lost — two overtime contests. And turnovers again played a huge, negative role. This was especially true in the team's game against Boston, which reached double overtime.
In that game, the Mavs turned it over 27 times. Twenty-seven!
Somehow, though, the game was still competitive. Tough to say, though, whether that's more to the Mavs' credit or the Celtics' detriment. Obviously, Dallas has had issues this year. We've discussed them multiple times in this space. But Boston is certainly lethargic at the quarter mark of the season as well. Still, the Mavs lost the game.
And, even without Kevin Love in the game, the Mavericks lost to the Timberwolves, too. This was a game in which Ricky Rubio heard chants of “Ru-bi-o” not all that dissimilar from the first few seconds of this. (Seriously, click the link. The child in you will thank me.) Rubio came off the bench in that game, but it didn't matter. It went to overtime, too. But that didn't matter, either.
Coming to terms with the road woes of the Mavericks, if you haven't already, has been a painful experience this year.
But losing to the Raptors? I don't even want to talk about it, really. Chalk this one up to “It's a long season, yada, yada, yada,” I guess. But the Mavs didn't make a single three-pointer in this game. Not one. The last time this happened was back on Feburary 26, 1999. That's a 1,108 game span.
What were you doing in February of 1999? Probably listening to “…Baby One More Time,” which was was released five months before that.
Feel old yet?
Not to bring you down, but here's a sadder truth: Losing three games in a row has become commonplace for these Mavs.
They did beat the 76ers on Tuesday night, though. But even that W has its drawbacks.
Derek Fisher wasn't supposed to play, but he did. That was a mistake. As much as I am still skeptical of Fisher, he's been playing decently — not especially efficiently, but decently — since joining this team. But he left in the first quarter of Tuesday's game with a strained patellar tendon in his right knee. Sounds about par for course with this team, right? It doesn't even matter that the severity of the injury is not yet known. He's going to be out for at least a few games.
Anyway, despite Fisher's injury — or perhaps because of it? — the Mavericks played well throughout the game. Sure, at times, Kwame Brown looked like an elite rebounder in the league, but that is standard for pretty much any team that faces the horrible rebounding Mavs. Did you know that this team isn't good at rebounding? Is this record skipping too much for you?)
Dallas also hasn't been good at taking care of the ball. On their three-game skid, before beating the Sixers last night, they've averaged 21.3 turnovers per game. Teams usually aren't competitive when they turn the ball over that much.
But against the Sixers, Dallas only turned the ball over 11 times. The Mavs have a knack for winning games win they turn the ball over 13 or fewer times. When they turn it over more than that? That's when the groans come out.
O.J. Mayo and Chris Kaman, who shows a remarkable array of moves each game, paced the team with 26 and 20 points respectively in that Sixers game.
Perhaps it was a testament to the defensive abilities of Brown and Spencer Hawes, though, that Kaman played so well. Kaman was spinning, picking, popping, locking, dropping and pouring Chandon. OK, maybe he won't be pouring Chandon until New Year's Eve. But this is the Kaman that the Mavericks, and their fans, need to see showing up nightly.
This will be especially true for the team's home game tomorrow night. That's right: The Flying Death Machine strolls into the AAC on Thursday. This season, those Miami Heat have been, well, overlooked. Dwyane Wade has been plagued with injury issues. The team doesn't play a traditional style of ball, much to the chagrin of people who, I am assuming, hate evolution. And they've lost to the Wizards. The Wizards! (Fun fact about the Wizards: John Wall is in week 1,000 of his eight-week recovery.)
But Miami still has this really good player, though. LeBron James? He's pretty good. He has a knack for posting up his defenders — in this case, it will be Shawn Marion — in the fourth quarter and scoring the ball with ease, even as his team may be playing well. It honestly seems foolish for the Heat to be so overshadowed this season with the media swirling around the Lakers and the Spurs.
Yes, the Heat do play down to their opponents. But this is the regular season. They're good enough to coast. It's unlikely they'll do so against the Mavs, though, once they see the banner hanging in the rafters with the words “2011 NBA Champions” emblazoned on it. Plus, it's a Thursday night TNT game. Sir Charles will be talking about it. Who wants to disappoint him?
Here's the thing, though: As I've stated before, the Mavs' schedule is unbelievably tough at the end of the season, and one of the many quality teams that Dallas will face as they await Dirk Nowitzki's possible return before the year is done is indeed these Heat. So maybe this game will serve as something of a litmus test.
Then again, maybe it won't.
That's the thing about the Runaway Mine Train. It's not that exciting.
Oh, and one last thing: Given that it's the holiday season and all, you should watch this below gem from the boys over at the Basketball Jones. It's pretty great.