In advance of tonight's showdown against the Grizzlies, the composite rankings this week have the Mavs' opponent vaulting into the top 5, while the Mavs....well, did not. We've been saying all week that this game will be the closest thing to a playoff game the Mavs have had all season, and while you hesitate to attach such big importance to a February game, the Mavericks certainly are. And the rankings below may give you a hint as to why.
A reminder that these rankings do not reflect games played Monday or Tuesday this week.
To the numbers...
- This week is an interesting one for the Mavs. I have a hard time thinking the loss to Houston hurt them that much, but then again they certainly aren't turning any heads with their play lately. Beating teams you are supposed to beat is well and good, but when you are at full strength and still struggling to close out games...people are starting to take notice.
- Irrespective of the Mavs' performances this week, there are simply some other teams outplaying them -- even WITH injury issues. And that is also something people notice.
- The Warriors are an interesting case to me. I've made no secret here that I love the Warriors, but as a Mavs fan first, it's increasingly starting to look like they may be competition for that last playoff spot. Of course, plenty of season to go, but you do wonder.
- I don't know about putting the Grizzlies in the top five just yet. Sure, they've played very well as of late with Marc Gasol's return, but their record isn't any better or worse than the Mavs. One ranker has them at 10 and I'll buy that, but of course, tonight's showdown may say a lot.
- The bottom third of the rankings seems to have found a little consistency, not that that means much. Bucks in six, anyone? ANYONE? *crickets*
Speaking of deserving All-Stars, Dirk Nowitzki is one, and he has proved it with some dynamite player over the last three games. Nowitzki has put up 28, 38 and 34 points in the last three while shooting over 60 percent in the process.
The Mavs have been a top-10 3-point shooting team, but shot 7-for-38 from threein their two games last week, with Jose Calderon missing two threes to win in the closing seconds of Wednesday's loss to Houston. Through his first eight seasons, 29 percent of Calderon's shots had been 3-pointers. He's doubled that ratio this season. Only 17 percent of his 3-point attempts have been off the dribble.
I don't like where this team is going but their offense is going to keep them within playoff range.
The most underrated contributor to the Mavs' success this season: DeJuan Blair. Doing Dirk Nowitzki's dirty work on the glass, Blair is averaging 14.7 points and 11.2 rebounds per 36 minutes while shooting 55.8 percent from the field.