The worst week of the Mavs' season (0-3 against the Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, and Memphis Grizzlies) probably deserves a "Mavericks Cold and Colder" column. But being the champions of Mavs positivity and hope, we'll do the normal thing.
1) Dirk Nowitzki’s temper
On Saturday night against the Memphis Grizzlies, Dirk finally made his long-awaited return from a knee sprain. It would last about as long as "The Magic Hour" with Magic Johnson. After tallying just 14:50 of playing time, Dirk was ejected early in the second half for notching two quick technical fouls as he complained about a foul call against Memphis’s Zach Randolph. In fairness, it’s unlikely Dirk was going to play heavy minutes in his first game back anyway, so the ejection incidentally served as a way to artificially limit his minutes. Too bad the Mavs lost by 19.
2) Jose Juan Barea’s three-point shot
Through December, Barea was without exaggeration one of the worst three-point shooters in the NBA. At several points, Barea’s percentage dipped below 17%, which isn’t that far above what YMCA third-graders on the "Blue" team shoot. Fortunately, Barea’s deep-ball has improved substantially in 2011, in particular this past week. Barea shot 5-of-8 (63%) in three games this week, which most of you know is slightly better than 17%. Barea won’t continue to shoot in the 60’s (or even the 50’s or 40’s), but if he can even hover around 35% over the rest of the season, he can at least prevent defenders from sagging five feet off him.
3) Ian Mahinmi
As he’s done all season, Mahinmi continues to produce in limited minutes. In less than 12 minutes against his old team, the San Antonio Spurs, Mahinmi went 3-of-4 for 7 points and pulled down 4 rebounds. Spelling an ill Tyson Chandler the next night against Memphis, Mahinmi shot a perfect 6-of-6 for 17 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. In fact, Mahinmi was the Mavs’ leading scorer against Memphis, and arguably the team’s lone bright spot.
1) Team rebounding
The Mavs were outrebounded in all three games this week, 46-41 against Memphis, 52-39 against San Antonio, and 42-38 against the Spurs. These margins are understandable to a degree, as the Mavs’ top two rebounders---Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki---missed substantial time. But the Mavs have not been a top-tier rebounding team all season, even with a healthy roster. They now rank 19th in the league in rebounding rate. Notably, another "veteran" (read: old) team that has suffered from injuries to its top rebounders, the Boston Celtics, ranks just above the Mavs at 17th.
2) Jose Juan Barea’s two-point shot
Barea’s mini-resurgence from deep (see above) unfortunately didn’t extend to his game inside the arc. Removing threes from the equation, Barea shot 3-of-6 (50%) against Indiana, 3-of-10 (30%) against San Antonio, and 1-of-8 (13%) against Memphis. While it’s undeniably important for Barea to hit the long-ball at an acceptable clip, it’s also important that he convert on his opportunities inside. Until Rodrigue Beaubois returns to the Mavs’ lineup, Barea is essentially the only Mav who can regularly penetrate into the paint. That skill becomes exponentially less useful if Barea can’t make his shots inside.
3) Jason Terry
At times, Terry takes a disproportionate share of blame for the Mavs’ struggles. But recently (and this week was no exception), Terry has earned most of the criticism he’s received. JET started off the week with a statline that looks better than it really was, going 9-of-20 for 18 points at Indiana. He did contribute 5 rebounds and 3 assists, but he also turned the ball over 4 times, which is becoming an all-too-common occurrence when he handles the ball extensively. JET’s next two games were abysmal, as he went 3-of-14 (21%) for 9 points at San Antonio and 4-of-14 (29%) for 8 points against the mighty Grizzly Bears. JET knows as well as anyone that the Mavs are offensively anemic without Dirk and Caron Butler, but that hasn’t stopped him from contributing to the problem with inefficient performances night-in and night-out.
4) Everything else
The elusive fourth Cold item makes its debut this week. This is your catch-all: if it's not expressly listed above in the Hot section, there's a good chance it was awful this week. The Mavs lost three games by double digits and, for the first time in almost a decade, have a five-game losing streak.
See you next week, with even more positivity and hope.