From the outside looking in, the Dallas Mavericks appear to be spiraling. The team completed a winless three-game road trip through the Eastern Conference, losing four-in-a-row overall, and dropped below .500 for the first time since October 29. Now, Dallas is pursuing Kemba Walker to try and help right the ship.
While the Mavericks showed some fight against the Bucks, the loss magnified the team’s struggles. The loss may not sting so much had Dallas not squandered opportunities throughout the opening fourth of the season.
“Obviously, nobody wants to be in that situation,” Spencer Dinwiddie said. “Beyond losing the four-straight games, our road record is pretty poor. I would say overall, though, this is why you can’t drop the winnable ones—the 20-point leads, Denver without their players or the Rockets, and things like that—because then you start to look at games like this in a vacuum.
“Like, ‘Oh no, we lost to the Bucks.’ But it’s the Bucks on the second night of a back-to-back. If you looked at the schedule at the start of the season and said, ‘You’re going to lose this game.’ Everybody would be like, ‘Eh.’ But then four-in-a-row, you drop the other ones, you’re under .500 now, it’s the sum of the entire story.”
Dinwiddie does an excellent job putting the loss in Milwaukee in context. Dallas has blown leads of 10 or more points against the Phoenix Suns, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards, Denver Nuggets, and Toronto Raptors.
The Mavericks have also dropped games to the Raptors without Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, Precious Achiuwa, and Otto Porter Jr.; the Nuggets without Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Aaron Gordon; the Wizards without Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis; the Magic without Paolo Banchero; and the New Orleans Pelicans without Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson.
It’s a long list that only compounds itself with each additional loss. Still, Dinwiddie says the team keeps things in perspective rather than dwelling on the failures and starting to panic, even if it does sting a little.
“We have a pretty mature group,” he said. “I think we’re able to look at it for what it needs to be. But yeah, like I said, it’s the losses where you had a 20-point, and then you drop to the Rockets or gave it away [to teams] without their players. Those are the ones you’ve got to have.”
There is still a lot of season left to play, and the Mavericks have the opportunity to gather themselves, win the games they’re supposed to, and turn things around. Still, with a fourth of the season in the books, it’s hard to imagine that this is pretty much the same team that went to the Western Conference Finals just a few months ago.
“We can’t compare last year to this year,” Luka Doncic said. “Every [season] is a new year. Like I said, it’s 82 games. We gotta keep going. We gotta keep trusting each other. Every day is a new day, and every game is a new game.”