This team is struggling. Despite having a monster season from a descendant talent, the team is limping out the gate, with heavy question marks for the future. There have been disappointing losses against bad teams, with inconsistent and downright bad play from the role players. Their franchise player is off to the best start of his career, yet after every game it feels more and more like a waste. Where will the help come?
Who is this team that’s been a massive disappointment? Why, the Golden State Warriors of course! Gotcha!
The Dallas Mavericks are 9-7, the Warriors are 8-9. Yet a lot of what was described above has been applied to Dallas from the fanbase and media. And to be fair, those words aren’t necessarily wrong, or at least completely wrong. The Mavericks have had some catastrophic losses in this early portion of the season, but it is very funny (to me) that in the aggregate, they’re...fine. Dallas started this week fifth in net-rating, despite coming off some horrible, not-very-good losses to a depleted Denver team and the league’s worst team, the Houston Rockets.
That Rockets loss, and the Magic loss, and the Thunder loss, and the Wizards loss, and the Pelicans loss...and well, literally every loss, has come with some extremely bad vibes. Let’s recap each one:
- Phoenix — blew a 17-point halftime lead after dominating the Suns in the first half.
- New Orleans — lost to a Pelicans team missing Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Herb Jones. That’s the Pelicans two best players and another quality starter.
- Oklahoma City — blew a 16 point lead with four minutes remaining, only the second team to do so in the last 25 years. The Thunder were also missing key starter Josh Giddey
- Orlando — lost to a bad Magic team missing their best player, Paolo Banchero
- Washington — lost to a mediocre Wizards team missing their two best players, Kristaps Porzingis and Bradley Beal
- Houston — lost to the worst team in the league while resting Luka Doncic, only scored 92 points against the far-and-away worst defense in the NBA
- Denver — lost to a Nuggets team missing its three best players, Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon.
Phew, those are some bad losses! Despite that, the Mavericks are in decent enough shape. Luka Doncic is off to a historic start and the team has some solid wins. The Mavericks very recently took down the Portland Trail Blazers, who currently have the second best record in the Western Conference. They beat the Memphis Grizzlies by 41 points, grinded out a tough win against a very good Toronto team, held off a feisty Clippers squad, and took down the feel-good Utah Jazz.
It really creates a perfect storm — Mavericks optimists and pessimists basically get to refuel their arguments after every game. After every Mavericks game this season, I have seen reactions on Twitter, in our comments section, in messages, about how good the Mavericks are or how bad they are. It’s an incredible tug of war playing out in real time.
Sometimes the Mavericks do this within a single game! The Mavericks had a sizable halftime lead against the Clippers on Tuesday last week, only to score 15 points in the third quarter and let the Clippers back into the game. Dallas won, but both sides had their ammo — those with the glass half full can say the Mavericks showed guts hanging in when things went wrong, while those with the glass half empty can point to the third quarter collapse as a harbinger for worse things to come down the road.
How about this recent two-game homestand against Denver? On Friday, the optimists were riding high — Dallas whooped an undermanned team and took care of business. It was the Mavericks second biggest margin of victory this season. Then about 48 hours later, the pessimists had their tank refueled — the Mavericks yacked a game away against the same undermanned Nuggets team missing its three best players.
The Mavericks play the league’s best team, the Boston Celtics, on Wednesday. Then they play Toronto and Milwaukee, all on the road. Would it really be that outrageous, considering how this Mavericks season has gone, for them to go 2-1 in those three games? Or even 3-0? I fully expect Dallas to beat Boston, the optimists to puff their chests and bemoan the pessimistic portion of the fan base. Then Dallas will lose to Toronto and the wheel spins again. The Mavericks are 0-3 in the only three games Doncic hasn’t scored at least 30 points. Dallas has a lot of guys that are one-dimensional and have to make spot up threes to win games. Three point shooting carries a lot of variance, even the good teams, so the rollercoaster can and likely will continue. But the crazy thing about Doncic is that, he probably can cover over the weaknesses. He’s that good. So we’ll continue to see the Mavericks rack up as many impressive wins as they do confounding losses. And the battle for Mavericks fandom soul will continue to burn.