Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
The Mavericks broke a long string of losing to OKC heartbreakingly at the buzzer, today, by losing to them in the 2nd quarter. It wasn't great, but in many ways it summed up this season.
The thing is, the Mavericks have two identities so far. The first is a tough, competitive team. Tthe Mavs have played in 10 overtime games this season, a staggering amount, and have lost by 5 or less an additional three times. Tip the Mavs half of their OT games and they are 25-23, more or less tied for that last playoff spot in the West. Sad but rue.
Then there's the other guys. The Mavs have lost 9 games this season by 20+ points, the most in the NBA.
The problem isn't really that they keep getting blown out. The problem is that BOTH identities are losers.Tough-fight losers, or just losers--still losers. Whether it has ever happened before that the same team has both lead the NBA in OT losses by a LOT and also lead it in blowout losses...I don't know.
In some ways, through these numbers, this season begins to look miraculous. The Mavericks are now 20-28. 12 super close losses, 9 with 20+ deficits, and the Mavs have lost 7 times this season in a normal, non-horrible way.
Weirdly enough when the Mavericks win, it's by an average of 10.3 points. I have no way to explain this, other than if a team only ever loses close games or blowouts there's really nothing else to do but win by healthy margins occasionally. Maybe the fact that it's happened 20 times is what's surprising, after all.
What does all this mean? I'd guess it's that there's a good team hiding in there, but it's having a bit of trouble getting out. That's an optimistic way of looking at it, but why not. It's worth supposing that if some of these guys get the chance to grow together, there could be something worth salvaging in what is so far a pretty terrible season. I'll write about this more tomorrow, but it really isn't the end of the world to have a bad season here and there, and Dirk is not going to be appreciably worse at 35 than 34, especially if he gets an actual training camp for the first time in three years.
But we'll see how all this goes.