The Mavs haven't had a lot of problems lately, but the major one they have is a math problem that they seem unable to solve.
It goes something like this: If you have a 20 point lead, the fewest possible possessions the other team will need to surpass or tie you is seven. If you were to take a 24 second violation each time and the other team were to hit a three in one second each time, seven possessions would therefore take 175 seconds, or nearly three minutes.
Taking a just slightly more realistic approach, we might expect it to take 10 possessions and for each of those possessions to take five seconds. If you were to take a 24 second violation every time down it would take the other team 290 seconds or nearly five minutes to catch up with you.
Yes, the Mavericks have won their last four games by 10 points, and it's been a long while since that's happened. So there isn't all that much complaining to do here, obviously.
But in the late fourth quarter against the Celtics, the Mavs allowed 16 points in two minutes and 34 seconds.
Against the Cavs it was 10 points in 1:30, in the fourth.
Against the Grizz it was 10 points in 1:22, in the fourth.
And these are games they won by a lot. Everyone remembers the huge leads the Mavs gave up in games that ended up close, or that the Mavs ended up losing. Who could forget the 12 points surrendered in 1:24 against the Clippers, in that brutal recent loss? The nine in 57 seconds against Golden State in December?
There are hard answers to this problem. Better late game schemes and execution, better defensive rotations and play-calling. But there's also a really easy one.
Stop taking shots early in the shot clock.
Stop doing it.
Don't take them early.
Never take early shot clock shots, with a big lead, and little time left. Even if they're pretty, but not completely, easy.