With the playoffs coming up, it seems as though the Mavs have peaked at the right time. We've won 8 of out last 11 games, and we're only 2 games back of the Lakers for the last playoff spot. That being said, there is something to be concerned about, which has been clear since the start of the season: we have a point guard problem.
As it has been pointed out before, Mike James isn't the solution at PG (even with his recent streak). The problem is, Darren Collison isn't a starter in the NBA. He has some great games and is as fast as anybody on the court, but it’s easy to tell that defensively he doesn't cut it. Both he and James have good and bad offensive games, but both are consistent terrible on defense. Again, we've gone 8-3 in our last 11 games, but all those 3 losses have one thing in common: the opposing team had all-star level PG play.
Our 3 losses during this streak have come to Brooklyn, OKC, and San Antonio. Put simply, Darren Collison and Mike James can't hold their own against explosive, athletic PGs like Russell Westbrook, Deron Williams and Tony Parker (despite the fact that the former two are often criticized for their decision making).The good news, of course, is that we beat all the other teams. The list of teams we beat: Utah, Boston (minus Rondo), Atlanta, Cleveland (minus Kyrie), Milwaukee, Minnesota and Detroit, isn't bad at all. Atlanta and Boston are playoff teams, and while most of the others aren't, that's not what all of them have in common. The main thing they have in common is a lack of an elite PG.
There isn't much more to say about that topic, but the looming question has to be answered: Will we make the playoffs? We have 12 games left and have to make up 2 games on the Lakers. We play the Lakers once, which is a must win game, as not only would a loss push us a full game back, but it would give them the season series, so we'd be the equivalent of 4 games behind them. The other games are important too, of course, since we still have to outplay the Lakers by a game to tie with them and let the tiebreakers do their thing*. Now, I’d assume that we're going to lose all the games to teams with elite PGs, but beat most of the other teams. Of course, we could lose to a team with no PG, but I'd give us the same odds of beating a team with an elite PG, so while it doesn't quite even out (we play more teams with bad PGs than good, so I'd be overestimating slightly), its close enough.
We actually have a very favourable schedule in terms of who we play from here on out. We play 1 team with a top notch PG, and it would be no surprise if we lost to the Clippers. If Derrick Rose comes back and plays like an all-star, we could very easily lose to the Bulls as well, but beyond that it would give us a good chance of going 10-2 (assuming we can beat the Grizzlies, the Hawks, the Bulls, the Nuggets twice, and a bunch of bad teams) . Of course, for us to make the playoffs doing that, the Lakers would have to go 8-4, with one of the losses coming to us. That isn't improbably either. They lost to the Wizards this week, their second straight loss. Furthermore, they've gone 6-4 in their last 10, and if they continue on that pace you could expect 7 wins over the next 12. I could definitely see the Lakers dropping 3 or 4 games as the season goes on, in fact it wouldn't be a surprise to anyone. That being said, we'd have to finish the season winning 10 of 12 in order to make the playoffs, and while it seems crazy (we're playing 5 playoff teams over the last 12 games), with the way we've been playing recently, and with Dirk on our team, anything could happen.