A sign of a good team is consistency. Beating the less talented teams by a reasonable margin, at least most of the time, and showing up against the contenders and when it matters the most.
Because of this - and because inconsistency is my kryptonite - I am letting it all loose today in an attempt to hold on to my sanity. Join me, if you will, because it’s lonely on the dark side.
I happen to like patterns. I see them everywhere, I notice when things don’t fit and I like when they do.
This may be part of the reason I like basketball. The schemes, the rhythm and the shooting. The body language, the emotions and the flow of the game. It all speaks to me and tells stories of confidence due to good years and great coaches, and other stories of hard times and frustration despite working day and night to do the right thing.
My proclivity for patterns is probably also why I like languages and words. I see the patterns in sentences, what sticks out (good or bad) and what fits together. Everything has a place and if it doesn’t, you can fix it. The patterns allow you to find the problems because they stick out - and allow you to foresee the next steps.
And basketball is full of patterns. When a player hustles and gets a stop on defense, you can feel the momentum switching in front of your eyes. If you pay attention. When the leader of a team stays back, complaining to the refs about a non-call, showing all the signs of bad body language, you can see it transferring to the rest of the group. Another change of momentum, both of which can be decisive in whether a team ends up with the win.
Like all teams, the Mavericks are guilty of that - some more than others. But usually this stuff is foreseeable and easy to read. That’s not the case with the Mavericks this year, however.
When a team can beat the best teams in the league consistently, they’re a contender, right? Wrong, because they lose to below .500 teams all the time.
When you know they lose to below .500 teams, you can find a solution, right? Or accept that this is an off-year, a year to build? Wrong, because now they can only win against the bad teams.
But a team that struggles will have the same issues time and time again, so it’s fairly straightforward to pinpoint what they need to work on, right? Wrong, they never win in the same way or lose the same way - it seems to be something new every time.
Blowout? Sure, once in a while. Last second win by one? Sure, but even more last second losses.
You expect that a team won’t have enough offense to win when two of their best scorers are out. But not in Dallas, because all of a sudden the rest of the roster steps up to secure a win against a rival on the road, despite the fact that “role players don’t play well on the road”.
At least we know what we have, right? Wrong, we never know what we have with these Mavericks and it’s one of the most infuriating things about them.
The potential is there, I’m still holding on to that. Every time they overperform, we get a glimpse of it. When this team’s vibing, catching fire from three and plays defense like in the best of times, they can beat anybody.
But it’s the same team that keeps losing to teams that are trying to tank, forget how to play defense even though they were among the best defenses just last year and at times shoot worse from the line than an average high school team.
These Mavericks will not be figured out and will not be put in a box and it’s driving me nuts.
Where am I going with all this? I’m not sure, but thank you for letting me vent. Hopefully I even put words on some of your frustrations.
As it looks right now, I am unsure whether they can avoid the Play-In, but in the name of true inconsistency, it wouldn’t surprise me if they somehow, some way turn things around. Just like last year. And if they do I’ll make sigh of relief, not just because of the happy ending, but because they - once again - will fit the pattern.