Dallas finishes the week 1-2 with a win against Miami sandwiched between two disheartening losses against the Hawks and Clippers. Christian Wood remains out with a thumb injury, while Tim Hardaway Jr. returned to action after missing just one game with a sprained ankle. Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Green returned against Atlanta after extended absences.
Team grade: C
Dallas is treading water right now. They somehow have maintained control of fifth in the West, but the walls are closing in. Christian Wood being out does not help, but Dallas simply has to be more consistent. With Wood out, everyone in the current rotation played together last year, so the inconsistencies on defense are inexcusable.
After giving the Hawks any shot they wanted, Dallas came back and played their best game in probably a month against Miami. The defense looked good, the offense flowed a lot more with Green and Finney-Smith finding their groove, and the Mavericks felt more like a team than a group of guys playing basketball together. They rode this momentum into the first half of their matinee against the Clippers, but then fell flat in the second half.
Watching the latter portion of that game was like watching the air slowly get released from a balloon. Little by little the Mavericks defense deteriorated, until it spun out in the fourth quarter. After rotating with purpose earlier in the game, it felt like Dallas’ defense just lost its step, and the Clippers have too many guys that will make you pay for poor execution.
That has been the issue for Dallas all year; regardless of who they play, they almost always have a deficit of “guys”, or players that can get a bucket or make a play at any time. Atlanta had eight guys in double figures, while Dallas had just four. The Clippers got 40 bench points, and Dallas got a combined zero points from Reggie Bullock and Dorian Finney-Smith in the second half on almost entirely catch-and-shoot, wide open threes. With the West as tight as it is, Dallas could find themselves in the play-in this week if they cannot find ways to win.
Failing Miserably: the Dallas administration’s priorities
After losing to the Clippers Sunday, Jason Kidd had this to say:
Jason Kidd on how Mavs can fix FT shooting after 15-for-26 mark today: "Don't go to the line."— Callie Caplan (@CallieCaplan) January 22, 2023
Then: "It's just a joke, Twitter."
Days after Mavericks owner Mark Cuban called out a mural for being disrespectful, Kidd makes a joke with regards to Twitter (unprovoked, I may add) in the post-game press conference following a loss. Last week’s emphasis was around the lack of seriousness with Dallas’ roster. This week, it’s with the things the two most important figures in the organization are choosing to publicly address.
Fans are going to say, do, and express things in ways that best portray their feelings. If they are unhappy with the roster construction, they are going to paint a mural about it. If they want to express their distaste with how the team is playing they are going to tweet about it. As an NBA executive, or coach, of a team that has a lot to figure out, there is simply no reason why your primary concern should lie with people that have no effect on the outcome of games.
This is not to say that fan-team interaction is not a good thing. It’s cool to see fans have a voice within their team’s organization, but when voicing displeasure clearly ruffles some feathers, that is concerning. Kidd has been incredibly stubborn with his rotations, and yet cannot discipline himself enough to withhold a joke about Twitter on a day where Dallas could not beat a team that has won just four of 11 games in January.
Mark Cuban has had minimal turnover on a roster who has won two playoff series in the last five seasons, and yet calls a fan disrespectful for painting on a wall. Dallas is one of the most talent-poor rosters in the entire league, and yet when a report comes out that Luka Doncic has asked to upgrade the roster, Cuban is the first one to vehemently deny it. It would be nice if the higher-ups in Dallas would start worrying less about off-court discourse and more about on-court production.