Can the Mavericks Hang On?
*Photo via USA Today
The Dallas Mavericks have been a staple of postseason consistency. They have missed the playoffs just once since 2000, making it to the finals twice, and winning the championship in 2010-11 during that span. However, Dallas is in danger of missing out on the postseason for the second time in four years. They currently sit in seventh place out west, just a half of a game in front of the eighth place Houston Rockets and ninth place Utah Jazz.
Things have not gone well for Dallas lately, they have lost eight of their past ten, and in those games they are allowing 109.7 points per game and are getting outscored by four points per game. They have been struggling before this recent skid, losing 14 of their last 21, their play has led them to a current sub .500 record, and it doesn’t get any easier as they face the Warriors tonight. This is a very poor time to be playing their worst basketball of the season with only 11 games left to go and seven of those games on the road to finish out the season.
We all know that in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter who gets the seventh or eighth seed as they will be run out of the gym by the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs, however, Dallas is a proud organization, and Dirk Nowitzki and Rick Carlisle will not go away quietly. Before the season started, no one expected much from Dallas who lost some parts, and also lost out on DeAndre Jordan in one of the strangest free agent ordeals we have seen.
*Photo via DallasNews
Dallas went into panic mode after putting all its eggs in the Jordan basket. They signed Wesley Matthews, who hasn’t been as good as expected, but also acquired Zaza Pachulia and Deron Williams, and Rick Carlisle has gotten them to play much better than expected. In all, Carlisle has done a lot with the roster he was given, as it is filled with aging veterans and reclamation projects. To have them in a position to be in the playoffs is a testament to his coaching.
Dallas has played well most of the season and taken advantage of Houston and the New Orleans Pelicans disappointing seasons. However, even with Houston’s drastic slip from last year they still remain just a half game behind Dallas for the seventh seed, as well as the up and coming Jazz are hungry for a playoff berth. They will get a chance to face both of those teams down the stretch in what could be basically playoff games. If Dallas can turn things around during the last 11 games they have a shot to move up to the sixth seed, sitting behind the surprisingly overachieving Portland Trail Blazers.
I believe it will be tough for Dallas to hold off Houston, who has too much talent not to make the playoffs, and Utah who is looking to get back in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. The Mavs play six of their last 11 against teams who are currently in the playoffs if the season ended today, and it doesn’t help that Chandler Parson’s season is over. However I believe Carlisle will right the ship and get them into the playoffs. However, they will have to make some moves this offseason if they want to stay competitive and keep up with the teams out west.