The Dallas Mavericks hit the practice court one more time before going out on the road for their six-game West Coast trip. The Mavericks PR staff noted that this trip is the longest road trip for the team since Mar. 2007 when they went on the road to face the Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks and the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. The Mavericks finished that trip 6-0 and their average margin of victory was 10.7 points. Dallas is looking to find their groove after going a pedestrian 5-5 over their last 10 games.
The latest game saw the Mavericks having to scratch and claw to outlast the Minnesota Timberwolves without their All-Star forward Kevin Love. It was apparent within the first few minutes of the game that the Mavericks did not have their antennas set for the game against the Wolves. Whether they were looking at the upcoming road trip or in a comfort zone after the three days between games, the Mavericks were not focused and it almost led to them receiving a painful loss. "Some nights you're going to struggle," coach Rick Carlisle said. "In those situations, you have to take your medicine, own it if you're not playing well and work to get better." With that specific game, the recent stretch of games and the recent playoff history, fans have become doubtful when they try to assess the chances the Mavericks have in the playoffs.
With all of that out on the table for everyone to see, does that mean the Mavericks are out to prove something to those doubters? "Messages to doubters, to me, aren't important right now," Carlisle said. "I'm not not defending where we are at this particular moment. Anything that involves talk is not going to be that productive. We've got to do it on the floor." It was surprising to see the coach come out and address the idea of people doubting the team as he usually focuses on keeping track of what is going on within his own team.
Carlisle has seen a lot in his 14 years in the NBA between being an player and a head coach, so the idea of having to deal with people on the outside questioning how the Mavericks will perform is not a foreign concept. "There's always going to be doubters, that's the nature of any business," Carlisle responded. "If there aren't you're probably getting painted a picture that's a little too rosy for you."
The Mavericks will have a chance to hit the ground running as they match up against the Utah Jazz on Saturday night. The Mavericks will look to sweep a four-game season series with the Jazz for the first time in franchise history with a win at Utah. The Mavericks haven’t swept a season series with the Jazz since 2004-05, when they went 3-0 against Utah in the regular season. Dallas has recorded four consecutive wins against Utah just twice in team history (2/2/86-10/31/86 and 4/8/04-4/9/05). Dallas snapped a five-game losing streak in Salt Lake City with a 93-81 win on Dec. 3. The Jazz are now 55-16 all-time against the Mavericks in Utah. "They're always going be very difficult to deal with in their building because they've got a great crowd, they play with great energy there and they play in altitude," said Carlisle as he was breaking down the challenges of playing the Jazz in Utah.
Even with the league's best road record (24-10), people continue to doubt how successful the Mavericks will be as they go out on their six-game road trip. As practice ended, the coach continued to speak towards those who doubt the team while stating the fact that he not be afraid if they continue to hover around the team. "I don't mind that there's doubters," Carlisle concluded. "I like having to prove it every night." The Mavericks will have to prove that they're ready to take things seriously as the playoffs are approaching. The doubters should learn a lot about the Mavericks over the next six games.
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