I know that seems like a ridiculous statement at this point. I know the feeling. It’s the feeling many of us have had after 8 Cowboys games this season, too. You feel let down. Betrayed even. You deserve better and you know better is in there but you stop believing it can come out. I know it.
Don’t worry about it. Seriously.
You want the truth? The real honest truth?
(Disclaimer: I can’t actually tell you the "honest truth". No one knows anything for sure before it happens. That’s how life works and nobody wins 100% in Vegas. I’m going to tell you that I can tell you the honest truth, but this is actually just what I think, though I HAVE sent a pigeon to Delphi).
I'll tell you the honest truth.
The Mavs have not shot well at any point this season. They’re shooting 41.2% and that’s with Dirk shooting 46%, Delonte shooting 47% and Ian Mahimni shooting 70%. They have not had any good offensive games this season.And if you're going to be the 2011-2012 Mavs and you're going to have a problem, let it be that one.
Otherwise, you’re cool.
I once watched Ryan Howard win the Home Run Derby and I was struck by how he did it. The other guys came up there, took some vicious hacks, launched some, missed a lot. Ryan, though, spent the first couple swings getting a feel for the thing. I knew he was going to win. And he did.
Gaining fluency with your weapon is the difference between being open to the vicissitudes of fate, and being able to take care of business. Anyone who's ever changed their own jumpshot for a windy day, then been terrible for a week knows that. Knowing for sure how to do what you're doing is the difference between being able to take care of business and swinging for the fences and hoping.
The Mavs, right now, even when they've played well are still just hoping. When they beat the Thunder, they shot 48.8% from the field. Great game. When they beat the Phoenix Suns, on the other hand, they shot 41.8% from the floor. When they beat the Raptors, they shot 44.4%--and that took them shooting 8-14 in the final frame. If you're scoring at home, that's 45% shooting even in the games they won.
The point is, they’ve played exactly one good game. They are twenty-third in the league in FG%. They are twentieth in John Hollinger’s effective field goal percentage. The Miami Heat have a better FG% for the season than the Mavs have had in any game. Four teams, the Heat, Clippers, 76ers and Celtics, are at 48% and over which, as noted above, is within .8% of the Mavs' best game.
You're wondering where the good news is. Okay, it's this: If you’re just hacking away, it doesn’t matter if you hit a bunch of home runs in the first rond because you’re not going to win the derby.
If you haven’t figured out your offense, it doesn’t matter if you pull out a few wins, you’re not going to beat the good teams reliably.
Still not good news?
Unlike the Mavs' defense, there is no long-term reason to be worried about the Mavs’ offense.
You know what constitutes a real problem for the Mavs? It's that they lost their best defenders. They lost the center that made up for everyone’s mistakes and DeShawn, the one perimeter D guy who was full-on ready to punch someone the instant he hit the floor, or before, and was up for any challenge.
If the Mavs are screwed this year, it’ll be because of defense. And you know what?
They’ve actually played pretty good defense.
Throw out the first three games. Did you know that since then, no one’s scored 100 on the Mavs? Sure, Minnesota came close, but they also shot 42.4% and just had a ridiculous night from three. Toronto scored 86 on them. The Suns scored 89 on 45% shooting.
Even the Thunder, who’d made the Mavs look terrible three times already (twice in the preseason, once in the regular season) came by the latest time to score just 87 points and shoot just over 40%. And, believe it or not, the Spurs last night? They shot 39.5% from the field.
I’m not saying that we should be dancing in the streets that, so far, the Mavs problems have been offensive. But if you, like me, watched the third quarter of last night's game, in which the Mavs allowed just 11 points, 5 of which were free throws in the last minute, and had to say to yourself, wait a minute here, that looks like a freakin' tough, hustling defense, you might muster up a little shimmy while cooking dinner or something. Right?
They lost because they couldn't hit a shot. But they outrebounded the Spurs, who played Tim Duncan, DeJuan Blair, Tiago Splitter and even Ike Diogu, by 10. They blocked 9 shots to the Spurs 1 and had 5 steals.
Bottom line; JJ Barea, 9.5 points a game in 2010-2011. Tyson Chandler, 10 points a game. DeShawn Stevenson? I love DeShawn Stevenson. 5 points a game. Scoring 2 for New Jersey. Caron Butler was great for us, but he didn’t play in the playoffs.
Lamar Odom, 14 points a game in 2010-2011. Vince Carter, 13.5 points a game. Delonte West, 5.6 points a game (8.8 in 2009-2010, his last season with games and minutes). Whatever Roddy Beaubois can be. Whatever Ian Mahimni can be.
Yes there’s an adjustment period. Yes, there are more back to backs and back to back to backs, and 6 games in 8 nights, and all that, this season. But come on.
The Mavs are losing games because of their offense. They’re playing good defense.
It's not good news, because of the losses. But good gravy if it isn't hopeful.
I am not saying everything is going to be fine in the long run. This season is riDirkulous. Things are happening too fast, too often and without sufficient training. Jason Kidd’s injury, which I may be a little less worried about than others (he is a brilliant basketball player and a key to a lot of what we do but maybe having someone out there who could score ten points would lessen the need for some of that), and the severity of which I don’t know, may be just the start. There's a reason Manu and Zach Randolph are out too,
But see here, y’all. The difference between a bad stretch and being doomed (doooooooooomed. DOOOOMMMEEEDDD) is whether what’s wrong s a fixable quantity. If the Mavs were still manifesting a revolving-door defense, that would not be a fixable problem. It will not be, if it re-emerges.
On the other hand, this team shooting 41.2% from the field, with Dirk, Terry, Lamar, VC? 28.9% from three, with three of the top 20 in made three-pointers in NBA history on their team?
Good news! Well, hopeful news.