The Mavs were SUPPOSED to go 2-1. They went 1-2, bringing the predictions to 13-5. The problem was a feisty Chi-town squad which is experiencing some serious Ewing Theory ish. The Bulls are 10-2 over their last 12, and scientists are just beginning to understand why. In that stretch they've only had the leading scorer in a game four times, it was D.J. Augustin once and Taj Gibson three times.
But there it was and the Mavs were the latest to get gored. The Bulls are a bad matchup for the Mavs because of how good Joakim Noah is and how he has to do nothing but be all up in Dirk's face all game for Dirk to be kept to a quiet 15 on an unusual-for-him 18 shots. So it's not exactly surprising that the rest of the Mavs could not get them over the top. Could a champion mountain-climber climb a mountain without his best crampons? I think not.
At any rate, the loss to the Spurs was expected, but close, and Dirk's quotes about how San Antonio is just one of many teams the Mavs so far don't look like they want to see in the playoffs. Outside of the win against the Pacers, who they won't be seeing in the West playoffs either unless they get lost and accidentally wander over, the Mavs don't exactly have a stable of statement wins. It's going to be an impediment to their making the playoffs but MORE IMPORTANTLY it means that right now, there's no real point in making the playoffs other than that they're kind of fun.
Which isn't the worst reason but I won't be writing encomiums about it.
Also, are the Mavs like the only team in the NBA still having trouble with the Knicks? Curse of Tyson Chandler? Whatever.
Games This Week: Wednesday at Denver, Friday vs. Portland, Sunday vs. Indiana
Prognosis for this week: Uhhhhh...
These are, unfortunately for the Mavericks, three lose-able games. Even Denver, the one team here the Mavs are clearly better than, is 2-0 against them this season. So....
The good news is, the Mavs have one of their longest non-All-Star breaks of the season, a four day rest for the old guys.
Denver: The Mavs start the week out against their easiest opponent, by far. The Nuggets have lost approximately 9 million games in a row, with short breaks for wins against Milwaukee and it is absolute chaos over there. Since they were 20-18 on Jan 15 they've gone 5-15. Still though, the Mavs have already lost to them twice this season and they play that kind of up-tempo, basically young person offense which, though the Mavs also play it, is pretty hard for their defense to keep up with. This is almost certainly going to be one of those where the Mavs get a big lead and then slowly lose basically all of it.
My one big prediction for this game is that Dirk is going to go OFF. After hanging out with Joakim Noah and then a huge Spurs frontcourt I think he's ready to give Hickson and Faried (and Mozgov?) The Business. Which would be nice, obviously.
Portland: Like all teams which are stunningly good, in the sense that it is stunning how good they are, not in the sense that the level of good they are is stunning, the Blazers seem to have lasted just long enough at the top of the charts for everyone to write "stop questioning them" and then started to decelerate a bit. They're still pretty nasty, but they're showing some of their problems more openly now. They're still winning a lot of games, but you'd have to say they haven't beaten a really good team since January 17 against San Antonio. Since then they got creamed by Golden State and Memphis, the Mavs' two nearest opponents, lost to the Pacers in OT, the Thunder by three, the Clippers by five and the Spurs by two. And their recent wins have come against Utah, Minny, Brooklyn and Denver.
Damian Lillard is crazy good now. Averaging 24-6-4 over the last month and shooting 48-39-88. With him and LaMarcus Aldridge, that team has a hell of a core.
But no, they are not as good as they seemed to be the first couple of months of the season and if the Mavs surprise this week, this will be the game
Pacers: It's not like the Mavs' win against the Pacers is completely inexplicable. Yes, the Pacers have a crazy good defense, but the Mavs have a crazy good offense. And the Pacers DON'T have one. They're 19th in points per game and 24th in assists. Also, the Mavs have somehow found a way to keep from being destroyed by good rebounding teams on the board, for the most part.
And since the Mavs game, none of the Pacers' wins have been impressive. They took out a limping Atlanta squad, beat Milwaukee twice, Boston, the Lakers, and Utah. But until the Mavs start winning even slightly more often against the really good teams it is pretty hard to see.