The Mavs have had some great wins and some unfortunate losses since The Big Trade. In the last three games alone, they beat the Wizards (yay!) but lost to the 76ers (ugh) but got back on track against Brooklyn (yay!)
We asked the staff: how do you feel about the team at this point? Will they make the playoffs? Should we jump back on the tank? Who needs to be doing something differently? Discuss!
Firstly, to just get this one out of the way. The Mavs will not make the playoffs, the 8 seed it being fought for by 2 teams who are playing a lot better than Dallas. Currently they are 4 games behind Denver in the 8th spot and they are starting to play really well together and are lead by a really good player in Nikola Jokic (a center who can get triple doubles is pretty rare).
My feelings about the Mavericks are a constant rollercoaster and I think I might actually like that. When they win games their not meant to it's really exciting, but then they go and lose games they should really win, which is really frustrating. All in all the Mavs are going to eventually just even out and win as many games as they probably should with this current team.
The absolute bottom teams in the league have really bottomed out, Lakers, Suns, Nets, Magic have all but locked up the worst four records. Then there's a patch of teams sitting around that mid to late twenties win total which will make up the rest of the worst 10. If the Mavs just keep losing games as we suspect they should I still think they have a good chance at a top 10 draft pick. If the draft is as deep as they say it is, then the Mavericks shouldn't have too much difficulty getting a solid pick without trying to tank too hard to finish out the season.
I personally think the Mavs should sit Wes for a good stretch, something just isn't right. Perhaps they shut him down for the rest of the season to start his rehab early or even just give him a week off and see if he can at least finish the season on a better run than he's had in the last two or so weeks. Get Brussino in there and let us just experience the fun he brings to the team when he gets minutes.
We're officially out of the playoff picture because we dropped games against bad teams while the Nuggets were winning games against tougher opponents. They pulled out a big win against the Clippers last night while we were losing to one of the worst teams in the league, just for example.
Now I don't think we should go into full nihilism mode and sit all our starters but we should not be taking any chances with injuries. Wes and Noel should both be on limited minutes for the rest of the season. Keeping key players healthy and giving young players a chance to audition for the squad should be our two highest goals. If that leads to wins, so much the better. If not, we watch our ping pong ball get more valuable.
As one of the most optimistic playoff believers, I have to admit this road trip has been a bit of a reality check. The bottom line results (2-2) are okay but the Philly loss was a reminder of their 10-24 (.294) road record with seven of their last 13 games on the road. The Mavs will need to win atleast four of seven on the road and probably five of six at home to get a photo finish with Denver and Portland, whose remaining strength of schedule is softer than Dallas'. Dallas now has a 2% chance to get in according to 538.
There's still a lot to look at for Dallas as they've remade their rotation completely in the last couple months. First, does Nerlens Noel grab a starting spot before the season ends? He's shown flashes but does he have franchise player potential in him or is he more of a solid rotation guy? Second, Seth Curry was one of the best players in the league since the All-Star break but has been in a cold spell for five straight games now. You want to see him adjust to schemes and find a medium between his floor and ceiling. Third, does Harrison Barnes have another level in him? He's established himself as an iso scorer from the elbow but does he have another level with playmaking and/or two-man games? Then of course, there is continued development for Yogi and DFS and the sifting through the parade of 10-day contracts to come. And, of course, we want to see if Dirk finishes with enough momentum to chase Wilt for #5 next year.
I've been on board the playoff train since Yogimania went into full effect, but the Mavericks have dug too deep a hole. You can't have 42-point losses against a team like Philadelphia and expect anything better. That's the downside to an 82-game season: When you're fighting for a playoff spot, wins and losses become magnified and examined more closely. Last night showed this team isn't ready to get back to the playoffs.
I've accepted the fact that it's too little, too late for the Mavericks to make up ground on the Nuggets, as they continue to win games they need to win while Dallas blows chances against the Suns. Rick Carlisle can have as many late-night film sessions and obligatory burnings of the box score he wants, but it's too late to expect any sort of turnaround, coupled with meltdowns from Denver and Portland.
The playoff chase was over well-before the terrible Philly loss, when the Mavs failed to gain any ground on Denver after the Mavs played three-straight against the Lakers, Nets and Suns. The turnaround since 2017 started has been pretty fun to watch and a giant improvement where things were in mid-December, but the hole the Mavericks dug was too deep.
Now? Just keep on keeping on. The Mavs aren't going to blatantly lose games while Dirk is still healthy so they're doing the next best thing by focusing on the guys that are gonna be here the next couple years in Yogi, Seth and Noel. Dallas isn't technically tanking, but starting an undrafted point guard who was on a 10-day contract and giving him 20 to 30 minutes a night isn't always going to help in the win-column. Dallas has proven they can be competitive with anyone and also proven they can lose to anyone, even during their turnaround stretch. Keep developing Yogi and Seth, keep spoon-feeding Noel the Carlisle system and everything else will take care of itself.
I’m proud and disappointed in this team at the same time. On the one hand, they’ve done a commendable job digging themselves out of a pretty big hole since their horrid start to the season. On the other, with losses like the one to Philly, they’re squandering the playoff hopes that they fought so hard to attain. Will they make the playoffs? While not impossible, it is now highly improbably. Denver is 3 games up and playing good basketball, and Portland is 2 games up and on a 3 game winning streak with an easy schedule the rest of the way. This is why the recent losses to the 76ers and the suns hurt so much; at this stage in the season, every game counts.
That said, I don’t see this team jumping back on the tank. As mentioned in other posts, Dirk, Wes, and Carlisle embody a “never say never” attitude. I foresee this team playing to win until it is mathematically impossible for them to make the playoffs, at which point I expect a swift shift to team tank.
In terms of what could be done differently, I would like to see a more consistent role for Nerlens Noel. For one, the team is more versatile with him on the court. Also, looking forward, if Dallas wants to re-sign him this summer, the last thing they want to do is upset him by playing him inconsistent minutes down the stretch. More minutes for Nerlens is one of those rare good for the present, and for the future type of decisions that Dallas should be employing.