The predictions got absolutely wrecked last week, Edmund Fitzgerald style. It was the second such week in the last month or so. The only things I got right were that Dirk, after dealing with Joakim Noah and the Spurs' huge frontline, would absolutely beast on the Nuggets (which he did to the tune of a 13-20 shooting night) and that I would buy a bunch of consignment sweaters.
And it revealed the weakness in the otherwise brilliant predictions strategy I've been employing.
Some of you will recall that I started this weekly column as an experiment, and that the experiment was meant to show that the Mavs were more or less the most predictable team in the league. Barring injuries etc., they would lose to the teams that were better than them and beat the teams who were worse.
You'll recall that for the most part, the predictions were wildly successful because of this, putting me at 12-4 as late as a week and a half ago, with two of those four coming in games Dirk either surprisingly did not play in or else received an injury and missed a chunk of.
But then came the week where they lost to the Bobcats and beat the Pacers and then this one where they lost to the 27-35 Nuggets and beat the 42-21 Blazers and the 46-17 Pacers (nabbing, by the way, the season series over both). And that's really unfortunate for me because it means that I have to put actual work into this thing.
I mean, can you imagine? Living the high blogging life on the high blogging seas, drinking Miller high life and mailing in a once a week column in which all you do is look at who has a better record?
And then all of a sudden you find you have to start thinking about boring old things like how two teams match up or whatever? Like I have NOTHING ELSE TO DO?
Whatever, Mavericks. I know love is work, but I didn't think it'd be this much work.
Games This Week: at GSW (Tuesday, March 11), at UTA (Wednesday, March 12), at OKC (Sunday, March 16)
Prognosis for this week: Decent.
Does it seem weird to anyone else to have a road trip with like a three day break in it? Even if it is to OKC which is like literally an hour drive. Doesn't matter.
They're all important games at this point in the season, with the Mavericks only two games up on Memphis and Phoenix, and 20 games left but GSW is probably a particularly important game. I don't overall expect the Mavs to move up past seventh, especially not over a Golden State team that is 8-2 over its last 10, but it is currently a mathematical fact, the best kind of fact, that the Mavs are two games behind Golden State AND are tied 1-1 on the season, which means the tie break is in play here. Although they do play Golden State again before it's all said and done, so it's actually not. Shhh, I don't feel like editing.
The Mavs are somewhere in the middle of a kind of brutal stretch, but the rest of March isn't really so bad. Golden State is trouble, they play OKC twice, the Clippers once, and yes, they have to play Denver again, but they'll also see Utah, Boston, Minny, Brooklyn and Sacto. So there are some winnable games out there. You know it's not exactly news to anybody at this point that if the Mavs want to make the playoffs they have to win some games, so the fact that some of them seem tough is just kind of how it's going to be from now 'til the end of the season.
Golden State Warriors
Listen, Golden State is a good team. Eighth in points allowed, third in boards, tenth in assists, tenth in points. And they're on a hot streak, though the wins are for the most part not impressive. You nod at the OT victory over Houston, Indiana, and Phoenix, but then there's a lot of Sacto, Brookyln, Detroit, NYK, Boston, Atlanta. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, you know, playing bad teams is not a sign that they can't beat good teams. But the Mavs will be one of the top four or five teams they've played since the middle of February.
Golden State is also a great example of a media narrative. You know, Curry and Thompson are supposed to be the splash brothers of three, basically, which kind of ignores the fact that Curry is way, way better than Thompson. He can score some points, can young Klay, but his peripherals aren't very good. I don't love PER, but he's sporting a shocking 13.76 in that category, which puts him just behind Shawn Marion and Kelly Olynyk. The only guys around him who are also playing 30 minutes a game are Matrix, Korver and Jimmy Butler, all of whom have slightly better numbers, and Jameer Nelson and Jeff Green. Nick Young has a PER of 14.28. Not great, Klay.
I think the Mavs can win this game. I'm not exactly brimming with confidence about it, but with the way the Mavs have been playing I think this is a close matchup and I think the Mavs will get a chance to win it at the end. Given that they'll have to try to actually guard Steph Curry in those moments, that may be more frustrating news than good, but what can I say. For the moment I'm an optimist. It's not like Golden State fell, hit its head, and woke up in sixth place.
It's going to really suck if the Mavs lose to Utah. I love Utah because it's a pretty good example of a team that is technically supposed to have a great young core and is just awful. Like, theoretically, if you were to tank and to do well in the draft for a few years, you wouldn't be LeBron level stoked if you ended up with Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, Trey Burke and Enes Kanter but you'd feel pretty good about yourself.
And yet they are just a gross, awful team. You'll give ‘em a win against Phoenix on February 26 and really raise your eyebrows at a win against Miami on February 8, but other than that the only guys they've beaten are Philly and Boston. They lost to the Bucks by 26, which most scientists have concluded is physically impossible.
Good luck, tankers. I expect the Mavs to win this one.
Oklahoma City Thunder
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