We're halfway through the season folks, and the Mavs are still that pesky team that everyone likes but no one wants to QUITE invite to their party yet. Some more on that below. But hanging around is perfectly fine with me, so long it keeps the team in playoff contention.
And a friendly reminder that these rankings don't reflect games played yesterday, including the Mavs' win over the Magic (which was, I suppose, expected and wouldn't change much of their ranking anyway).
Here we go...
- The Mavs continue to be the Mendoza line between "these teams are in the playoffs" and "these teams are not." They haven't moved out of that 8th spot in a while (and in fact, after last night's win are in 7th), but just a friendly reminder that the Mavs can't afford to lose ANY game.
- Their tough stretch coming up -- Clippers, Blazers and Suns -- should say a lot about where the Mavs are and will be, I think. They have shown the ability to hang with any of these teams. They've also shown the ability to not show up against those teams. The latter is a mentality that could send them plummeting in the rankings after this stretch if they lose any of these games horribly. Some unexpected wins, and all of a sudden they're showing something good.
- To sum all that up: I still don't know what this team is. I don't know if anyone does.
- The Suns without Bledsoe...hmmm. Do not seem to be doing so well, and that's the first time in a long time I've seen them ranked below the Mavs. The Pelicans are free-falling as well.
- The Lakers are beating the 76ers in tanking this week. That's a sentence I probably never expected to write at the beginning of this season.
- The big stories this week on most sites have been the dramatic rise of the Knicks and Nets. I haven't watched much of either team lately but based on the way the Knicks beat the Mavs, I guess I'm not surprised. Both teams were too good on paper to flounder near the bottom forever.
A couple of games against the injury-riddled Pelicans was a nice remedy after a blowout loss against San Antonio. Dirk Nowitzki was vintage Dirk in the second game of the home-and-home, notching 40 points in a three-point win.
For the second time in two weeks, the Mavs got away with a last-second foul that wasn't called. Kevin Love and Austin Rivers would have had to make all their free throws just to send either of the two games into overtime, but those results will obviously be on the minds of the Wolves, Pelicans or any other teams involved if the final playoff spot in the West comes down to a game or two.
Only three players in the past 25 seasons have posted a 40-point game at an older age than Dirk Nowitzki, who clocked in at 35 years and 206 days when he uncorked 40 in a narrow (and fortuitous) win over New Orleans. Michael Jordan did it at 40, Karl Malone did it at 39 and Shaq O'Neal did it at nearly 37.