You read it correctly. The 2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks have come across something that we need to cherish.
We, the Mavericks, are invisible. Over the course of the year, we seem to elapse past the minds of writers and analysts. When talked about, we are written off as "Not the real deal". The burning question in everyone's mind is this: Is Dallas a legitimate contender?
The answer will not be clear for a while. If the playoffs were to start tomorrow, yes. However, this is why the NBA has an 82 game season. Streaks are put to the test, as are teams. Will these Mavericks pass?
As the standings sit, the Mavericks are 22-5, making them the 2nd team in the Southwest division, and 2nd in the Western Conference, naturally. As far the the league goes, Dallas currently holds the 3rd best record, behind the Boston Celtics and the San Antonio Spurs.
As remarkable as the quantity of wins may be, the quality is more important. First of all, the Mavericks have become notorious for busting streaks. Last night's victory marks the 6th time this team has snapped a 5+ game winning streak. 2 of those(Spurs;Heat) were against teams that had 12 game winning streaks. Speaking of streaks, let's not forget Dallas recently had a 12 game win streak running, and is in the process of another, having won 4 straight.
As impressive as all this seems, let's look at one area that (excuse the cliche) wins championships. Defense.
Defense: 5th; 93.2 Points allowed per game
Opponent FG %: 4th; 43.5% from the field
Opponent FT Attempts: 4th; 22.2 FTA per game
Opponent Adjusted FG %: 5th; 47.3%
These numbers say a lot about our defense. It is the reason we are winning. Dallas is playing strong, defensive, textbook basketball, and the wins are racking up. Also, we are not committing dumb fouls to sent teams to the line, and give them a chance to beat us.
On offense, we are witnessing an MVP caliber season from our MVP, Dirk Nowitzki
Voted #1 on ESPN's Race to the MVP for 2 straight weeks, Nowitzki is putting up an MVP season, consisting of (per game) :
24.8 point(s), 7.6 Rebound(s), 2.3 Assist(s), .88 block(s), .73 steal(s), 55.8% FG%, 42.4% 3pt. FG%, 86.2% FT%
Dirk's 24.8 PPG ranks 4th in the NBA, and his 55.8% from the field sits him at 7th in the league. To make his shooting more impressive, he and Howard are the only 2 players that are both shooting 55%+ and scoring 20+ PPG. Also, Dirk sits at 13th in the league at FGA, so he is making more of less.
Let's sum it all up, and get to the main point of this post. We have here, a team with a prime MVP candidate, a great record, great performances against strong, hot teams, and they are also amongst the best defense teams in the league. You would think a team like this would be the talk of the NBA. Dallas however, has been granted a gift. The gift of Invisibility.
When mentioned on national sports panels, they're written off. Is this a bad thing?
In short, no. The last time that Dallas went under the tag of "unnoticed' was 2006. I remember an interview in post-2006 with Jason Terry, in which he said the Mavericks embraced their underdog role throughout the season. It was under this role, and not under pressure, that Dallas was able to cruise past Memphis and Phoenix, and battle with the Spurs.
We all owe a little praise to the Lakers, Spurs, Celtics, and the Heat. These 4 teams dominate the talk of the NBA. Which strongly benefits Dallas. The Heat have painted a giant target on their back, the Lakers are pushing for a 3-peat, and the Spurs and Celtics are trying to prove, once again, that age is but a number. Underneath all of these distractions lie the Mavericks, who are arguably playing the best basketball in the league. With teams not aiming at us as "The team to beat" Dallas can play more free basketball. The more time teams spend being talked about on ESPN, the more of a "target" they become.
Dallas has been granted a gift. While people focus on the Heat and Lakers, Dallas is slowly playing a fantastic season, their best since the 2002-2003 season. If we can continue to play under the radar, it will make for an interesting playoff run. One of the best things that can happen to a professional team is being overlooked. The minute teams overlook you is the minute you can slip out from underneath them and snatch the victory.
With the return of Beaubois, things should get very interesting. Why people are calling for his trade, or any trade for that matter, is confusing me. After all, we are the 3rd best(record-wise) team in the league, and we have a possible star waiting in the injury reserve. I can not see why trading our pieces, which are working very well, is even a considerable option.
Show me a team that trades major players mid-season, and I'll show you a team that came up short*.
Now, as always,
*Unless the trade is absolutely lob sided. See: Lakers' acquisition of Gasol.