Another home loss. They’ve become commonplace for the Dallas Mavericks this season as the confines of the American Airlines Center have betrayed the team. At 14-14 at home, the Mavericks have struggled to find anything resembling consistency. Monday night was yet another display of the team sputtering in front of its home crowd.
With the Utah Jazz in town on the second night of a back-to-back, the scheduling gods seemingly did the Mavericks a favor. The Jazz gutted out a last second win down I-45 against the Houston Rockets the night before. That should have given Dallas an edge. Unfortunately, the outcome was all too predictable.
Utah essentially blitzed Dallas in the first half. By the time the dust settled, the Jazz led by 21 points, 71-50, at halftime. Nothing the Mavericks did—and frankly, it didn’t look like they were trying—could slow down the Jazz, who shot 61 percent.
“It was a very, very poor performance in the first half. The defense was terrible,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “The second half, obviously, was much better, but the biggest symptom of our problems at home is our starts to games. And tonight, we just didn’t—we didn’t get there. So we’re going to have to do a lot better.”
The Mavericks did pick it up in the third quarter. They even winnowed their deficit down to within five points several times in the second half. It didn’t matter. The outcome was virtually never in doubt after the first half. Utah won, 123-119, compounding Dallas’ very ream home struggles.
At this point, the dichotomy of this team at home and away is baffling—and somewhat comical. They’re 18-8 away from the AAC, one of the road records in the league. They get up for those games, playing some of their best best basketball. The duds they keep dropping at home are unacceptable and the players readily admit that.
“That’s embarrassing. We all know that,” Tim Hardaway Jr. said. “Everybody got to get their mind and body right to come out here and compete for 48 [minutes]. We’re not doing that at home, but when we’re on the road, we get the job done the majority of the time. We got to give the fans something to cheer about, give our home crowd something to cheer about.”
The loudest the crowd at the AAC gets as it watches yet another clunker is when it chants, “Refs, you suck!” Luckily for the Mavericks, fans in Dallas haven’t yet turned on the team like fans in Philadelphia are prone to do. That may change after a few more lackadaisical performances.
Still though, Carlisle and the players continue to sound like a broken record when they answer questions about the team’s poor play at home. They repeat the same, tired responses. If they know what they need to be done, it never materializes on the court. It’s as though their content giving lip service to their problems rather than actually addressing them.
“We’ve just got to pick it up at home. That’s the bottom line,” Carlisle said. “At this point, analyzing why something is or isn’t may be a small part of the solution, but the bottom line is that we got to do better. We got to do better to start games and then throughout.”
With 13 regular season home games remaining, the Mavericks are running out of time to do better. That’s all the more worrisome when you look toward the future. The team is almost surely a lock to make the playoffs at this point, but don’t expect much from them once they’re there. Dallas’ postseason run will be short lived if it cannot find a way to win on its home floor.