In the Dallas Mavericks’ most recent embarrassing loss against the Washington Wizards, the boys in blue and green found themselves down by four heading into the second quarter. Luka Doncic sat on the bench for his customary rest. It was up to the second unit to steady the ship and try to build a lead against a tanking team. Much to the delight of Maverick fans everywhere, the fivesome on the floor for Dallas was up to the task. Josh Green hit a corner three pointer with 7:53 left in the frame to make the score 47-40, Dallas. This would have been a perfect time to ratchet the intensity up a little more and build a double-digit lead, potentially taking the lottery bound Wizards out of the game mentally.
Instead, the Mavericks gave up a 8-1 run and lost the lead over the next two minutes of game action. No big deal, right? The Wizards are terrible. Surely you can make another run and establish the elusive 15-point lead that would go a long way towards securing a desperately needed win. And it briefly looked like our heroes would do just that; a Dorian Finney-Smith three pointer with 2:44 remaining brought the lead back to six for Dallas at 59-53. All they needed to do was close out the half on a strong note and they could head into the locker room feeling pretty good about where the game was at.
Instead, the Mavericks gave up a 12-1 run to end the half and trailed 65-60 entering the break. They never led by more than one point again for the rest of the night. They lost the game by one.
This is a basketball team that patently refuses to establish any kind of positive momentum. Both game-to-game and in the general, big picture sense, they continuously take one step forward and two steps back. They cannot consistently build and maintain leads. They cannot string together wins when they’re not playing the Houston Rockers and San Antonio Spurs a combined four times in one week. Time and time again, they fail to build on any kind of positive energy that the team generates. The vibes are horrendous.
Take this homestand, for example. After a brutal back-to-back showing in Portland, the Mavericks had a great opportunity to right the ship with four games at home against somewhat middling competition. They blew the first game against the Atlanta Hawks because they couldn’t guard anyone, prompting Jason Kidd to publicly call out the defense. The team responded with one of their most complete efforts of the season, holding the Miami Heat to just 90 points in a comfortable blowout win. Perhaps the Mavericks had figured some stuff out. Maybe this was a turning point for them. Win the next two games and you have the chance to go on a nice little run to secure some decent playoff position.
Of course, they followed up that Miami game by losing the next two in excruciating fashion. And no one should be surprised by this. It’s been happening since game one of the season, when this team blew two separate large leads against the hated Phoenix Suns en route to a soul crushing defeat.
On December 1st, the Mavericks lost to the Detroit Pistons on the road. The vibes in the MFFL community were at a low point, as the team dropped to 10-11 on the season. Dallas rallied against the Knicks two days later, securing a 20-point victory and staving off the doomers for at least one day. Then, the Mavericks won their next two games. A three-game win streak! Something to get excited about heading into a huge matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks on December 9th. We all remember that Bucks game; Dallas played really well and should have won it, but blew the game at the free throw line. The next day they got their butts handed to them by the Chicago Bulls and the vibes were right back in the gutter.
After splitting the next two, Dallas played one of their best games of the year and throttled the Portland Trail Blazers by 20. There was a back-to-back the next night in Cleveland, but finding a way to win would go a long way toward cultivating some great vibes and getting things back on track. But Jason Kidd opted to sit Luka in front of a large contingent of Slovenian fans and the Mavericks lost the Kemba Walker game in devastating fashion. They got beat handily by the Minnesota Timberwolves two days later, and everyone was feeling terrible again.
Then came the fake seven-game win streak. And look, it was fun to win those games. The vibes were pretty good during that time. But from game to game, it was a roller coaster to say the least. Dallas needed actual superhuman performances from Doncic to eek out almost every one of the wins, and only one was a double-digit victory. With the exception of New York, no team during that streak had a winning record. But hey, wins are wins. You can only play the team on the schedule.
Since that seven-game run, the Mavericks are 3-8. They are 25-24 on the season and in danger of falling outside the Western Conference playoff picture. I dare say we are at rock bottom in the vibes department. Yes, injuries have played a large part. But this team has maybe the best player in the world. Things should feel better than they do. And a big reason why they don’t is this team’s insistence on doing everything the hard way. They squander leads. They don’t defend. They don’t rebound. The coaching staff fails to execute in late game situations. They have to rest their 23-year-old susperstar on the second night of back to backs. The owner/governor can’t stop saying foolish things. The coach is obsessed with strangers on the internet. All of these things add up and contribute to an organization without much going right outside of employing number 77. And after losing their second best player and Vibes Commander for nothing in the offseason, it’s tough to envision them stepping it up and restoring order. Help may not be on the way any time soon.