In its two weeks of existence, The Predictions, as Jonathan Franzen calls it, has garnered a tasty 4-1 record, and that one was a game that Dirk unexpectedly sat out. I can't, of course, legally suggest that you bet your life savings on the predictions that follow, but what else are you going to do? Work hard and get ahead? Come on.
I owe my great success in this endeavor not to any quirk of small sample size theater, which obviously after a total of five games is a theory we can reject entirely, but to the secret sauce of my prediction formula.
I can't tell you what it is, but if you were to look in my diary it MIGHT say that I have a deep-seated conviction that the Mavs are the most predictable team in the NBA. They lose to the teams you'd expect ‘em to lose to, beat the teams you'd expect ‘em to beat, and toss it up both in toss-up games and on long plane rides where they forget to take their Dramamine.
Some people focus on the manner in which these games end, which is always nail-bitingly no matter what, but that's just what Nate Silver would call "noise" and also "how did you get this number? Please stop calling me." I'm a simple man, and I look at simple wins and losses. And the Mavs last 10 wins were against:
Sacto, Detroit, Cleveland, Phoenix, Orlando, NOH, NOH, LAL, WAS, Minnesota
And their last 10 losses were to:
The only surprises there are the wins against Phoenix and the loss to the Knicks. If we were talking about Brooklyn three weeks ago, sure, but they've won seven of their last 10, have only lost to OKC and Toronto, and have beaten OKC, Miami, GSW and, of course, Dallas in that time span.
70% of the time it works every time. Or whatever. On to the good stuff:
Games this week: CLE (Monday 2/3), @MEM (Wednesday 2/5), UTA (Friday 2/7), @BOS (Sunday 2/9)
Prognosis for this week: Good!
There is no getting around the fact that the Mavs play three teams they should beat this week, and one they might. Given that it's a four games in seven nights thing, anything could happen, and given that Boston has Rondo back and getting healthy that's not exactly the cinch it might have been last week. But don't try to get around that fact. I see you sneaking back there, Johnson. I don't like it.
Cleveland: Since Cleveland has an angry Kyrie Irving and a placid, well-groomed Luol Deng (I honestly don't know anything about Deng's grooming, stop asking), this game seems certain to go down to the last minute just like the last one, and also every game the Mavs have ever played since 2001. However, since what they also have is essentially nothing, because they are awful, and since the only team they've beaten recently is Milwaukee, feeling pretty good about this one. I was thinking about working in a "Milwaukee's Best" joke here, but instead I'm just going to give up.
Memphis: The good news is, Memphis will probably be playing without Mike Conley. The bad news is, everyone else is back to healthy (including Marc Gasol) and the Grizz have just been steamrollin' the hell out of teams, including a 17 point win against the Blazers and an 18 point win against the Rockets. The really bad news is that every Grizz-Dallas game over the last two years has featured a 90-point Mavs lead that completely disappeared by the end of the game AND the Grizz are apparently planning to bring a cage full of live mascots and just release them at halftime. Given how good this team is at rebounding and how bad the Mavericks are, well...
Utah: Utah is terrible. And one of my favorite cautionary tales! We obviously know that all the young, amazing talent we're blessed with in this league isn't magically going to transform into something championship caliber. Obviously, they can't.
But what can you do except get a core of young guys like Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, Trey Burke and Enes Kanter together? And what do you do when that core is just mindboggingly horrible? The Jazz have shown some spice of late, winning half their games this past month. Which, since they're 16-30 on the season, is potatoes of a slightly larger than small size. Medium potatoes, if you will. But the Mavs gotta have this one.
Boston: I'm going to be at this game and I haven't been to a Mavs win in a long time. It's also the last game of a brutal week and, of course, since this team has been relying on Dirk more and more rather than less and less as the season has gone on, that's good news. However, the Celtics have lost 16 of their last 18 games, and one of their wins was an OT win against Washington. They are the worst team the Mavs are playing this week, and the Mavs need to get in there and not make me drive the hour back from Boston in a funk. It's a must win, so long as we're only thinking about my personal happiness.
PREDICTION: Mavs go 3-1, lose to Memphis, confetti rains from the skies, no one loses their life savings.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!