Man, what a frustrating weekend that was.
Heading into Friday's game against Denver, I was really feeling like that was kind of a 'must win'. You're at home against another Western Conference playoff team, and if you are serious about trying to move up a win would make a huge statement. A loss just seems to be another indication that the 8th seed and a first round exit is the best Dallas can hope for. Then news breaks a few hours before the game that Kidd wouldn't start.
In some ways, it was great news for Dallas. It setup a situation where a win would be even bigger, but a loss could just be scratched up to injuries. And since Phoenix had been destroyed by Portland the night before a loss wouldn't set off the miss the postseason alarms.
It still doesn't feel to good when you lose like that though. When you're stuck thinking about Dirk going 1-9 in the second half and missing a great look at the end. When you see the two point loss and keep thinking about Antoine Wright missing both free throws late in the fourth...
Dallas should have won that one.
Cleveland on the other hand.... Dallas didn't stand a chance. The Mavs played well for just 5 minutes of that game -- the five minutes during the first quarter where they went on a 16-3 run and built a 21-8 lead. But you know the rest -- worst offensive game of the season by quite a big margin.
When Dallas scored 76 against San Antonio in February I thought it would be their worst of the year. They scored 61 points in the final three quarters, shot 34%, and had an offensive efficiency of 85.49. In Cleveland they scored just 44 points in the last three quarters. Saved somewhat by the 30 point first quarter they still managed an offensive efficiency of only 80.95. In the end, it was the third time Dallas lost by 28 points this season.
Dallas plays Minnesota, Miami, and Memphis this week -- 3-0 please. They have Phoenix at home on Sunday. I look at those games individually and I feel like Dallas should win them all. Yet I have no confidence in Dallas to pull off a four game wining streak...
And as Mike Fisher points out, I probably shouldn't feel confident about the first three.
The last time Dallas played Memphis, on Jan. 4, Dallas was favored by nine but lost by 20, 102-82.
The last time Dallas played Minnesota, that same week on Dec. 30, Dallas won 107-100 but only after trailing by 29 points.
Eddie Sefko is reporting that Josh Howard is likely to return tonight. Dirk Nowitzki is glad to have him back, but also gives a pretty honest assessment of what Howard brings to the team.
"We're missing Josh. Right now, we're a jump-shooting team. Josh can make a difference in that area. Over the last couple of years, he turned himself more into a jump shooter than I think we all wanted. But he still has that ability to get to the foul line and slice in there, and that's what we need to make a good run in the last nine games.
"It's been frustrating, no doubt. Right now, if me and Jet don't shoot the ball well, we're going to lose the game. That's why we need Josh. It's tough to make up for a good scorer like Josh for a long time. It'll be great to get him back. Then we can let it all hang out there."
Sefko also has an article on the Mavs still looking to move up to seventh. Here are the current standings.