Okay, yes, I predicted a 2-1 week last week, but in fairness to me, a circumstance significantly extenuated. Your options for whatever it was that happened against Brooklyn are either 1) Dirk looked really wiped out and it seemed like getting the big guy rest was an emergency situation or 2) the Mavericks figured they could look past a team that, whatever their record, has now won 9 of their last 10, including wins over Miami, OKC, and GSW .
Either way if Carlisle was surprised by how well the team performed without Dirk, he was perhaps the only person in America. If I have a gripe about our mostly brilliant coach, its his tendency to see what he should see, rather than what he does see. One might imagine a team with a lot of talent could squeak one out, from to time, without their best player, like other teams do. But they don't, and there's something beautiful about that. It's like the whole Mavericks team is a temple to Dirk Nowitzki, richly deserved.
The Raptors loss, which included a 31-17 Q in the Raptors favor in quarter 2, and a 25-12 q to close it out was less fun, but life isn't about fun. Life is about suffering, and how much amusement the gods find in your suffering.
Either way, the gods have decreed a week of rest for the Mavs, for which they should basically be thankful. After a couple of months that felt a lot like the strike-shortened season for freneticosity, the Mavs have only two games upcoming. And they are:
Games this week: vs. Houston (Wed, Jan 29, 8:30 pm EST); vs. Sacramento (Friday, Jan 31st, 8:30 pm EST)
Prognosis for this week: Middling!
General Thoughts: I know it really doesn't feel like it, but the Mavs have actually done an okay job of taking care of business lately. If you figure they're more or less what their seed and record say they are, they've done a good job beating teams they're better than (CLE, ORL, LAL since Jan 1), and a not too bad job beating teams they're more or less as good as of late (PHO, NOH). Complaining that a relatively mediocre team is getting beat up by teams that are better than them (POR, LAC, SAS, LAC again) is like complaining that your turkey sandwich isn't a meatball sub. No one's arguing that meatball wouldn't be better, but what you have, sir or madam is a turkey sandwich, and what can anyone but Nykor, God of Subs, do about that?
By the way, did you know that Benjamin Franklin was America's first troll? In addition to suggesting the majestic turkey as America's national bird, he suggested that German should be our national language. Straight trolling, Ben. Anyhow.
Still, though doesn't it feel like the Mavs were a bit spicier earlier in the season? It's not like they were any better against the really good teams--witness the losses to OKC and Miami in November--but it seems like it was more likely that they'd steal one from a better team in those happier, more innocent days. In fact they did, beating GSW on November 27th, Portland on December 7th, Houston twice on Nov 20th and Dec 23rd.
But it's really hard to see them beating a better team right now, isn't it? Not least because every player is currently playing the 4th quarter like it was an accordion and they hate accordions, but not most because of that either. Which means:
Houston: It doesn't seem likely that this one is going to go well. In addition to the fact that in their last meeting, a Mavs win, the Rockets were without His Floppyness James Harden the First, all of the Rockets games this season have been absolute shootout and its hard to trust the Mavs' offense right now. On the one hand, the Mavs have still scored 106+ in 7 of the last 9 games, but on the other they've mostly needed every one of those because they're getting scored on like a late night Cinemax Original. It's going to be a shootout like usual, but it feels like today's Mavericks are more Ike Clanton than Wyatt Earp.
On the other hand
Sacramento Super winnable game! The Mavs have nothing to slow down DMC, although maybe he'll punch Vince in the head again or whatever, but Sacto is that rare combination in the sense that they have not been good either recently or in general. Yes, they did give the Pacers a scare as Marcus Thornton scored an almost unbelievable 42 points. And yes, they somehow beat Porltand earlier this month. But they also lost to Philadelphia and Charlotte, a three day stretch that Tom Cruise's character from Mission: Impossible (Ethan something? How could I possibly find this information out?) could only applaud. They're not particularly good at rebounding, they're bad at defense and their offense is roughly league average. That's a good profile for a Mavs win, n'est pas?
Prediction: Mavs go 1-1, lose to Rockets, beat Kings.