There’s no way around it.
The last ten games, which have seen the Mavs go 2-8, have been absolutely abysmal. The Mavs’ execution, effort, and basic desire to play quality basketball weren’t at the level needed in order to compete for a championship. Whether it was due to injuries or contract uncertainty beyond this year, the Mavericks have simply lost too many games against teams they should easily handle nightly. You can analyze or go into the stats and dig around all you want to try and find why the Mavericks have underachieved so much after the All Star break, but the answer is simple: lack of effort.
The world is well aware what this roster can accomplish when locked in, but they haven’t been in a while. Mavs Guard Jason Terry acknowledged the problem last week.
“We’re not a team out there right now,” Terry admitted. “It shows, so until we become a team and play together on both ends of the court we’re not going to be very good.”
Terry, the most vocal during the Mavericks’ recent stretch, has the most to be emotional about with the Mavs’ front office not addressing his contract status until the trade deadline and offseason free agency play out in full. Business is business in the NBA, but you can’t help but feel for guys like Terry and Shawn Marion who could very possibly go from key pieces on an NBA champion to roster flotsam in a year’s time.
Still, the Mavericks needed to regroup at home after capping their ‘nine games in twelve nights’ disaster with losses to Phoenix, Sacramento, and Golden State in consecutive nights. One would think the best way for the defending champions to get back on the winning track is to catch the 9-31 Washington Wizards at the American Airlines Center, but it’s tough to tell the way the Mavericks have played lately.
The good news for the Mavericks was the return of big men Brandan Wright and Brendan Haywood would provide some depth and inside presence that was missing during the west coast trip of death. A near perfect first half by Dirk Nowitzki set the tone as the Uberman dropped 20 points in the first two frames.
Despite letting the Wizards get to the line 38 times, the combined efforts of Nowitzki (finished with 27 points), Jason Terry (24 points), and Roddy Beaubois (19 points) led the Mavs to a spirited 107-98 win that hopefully left much of the last few weeks in the rearview mirror.
But was it enough? Obviously the win is passable for one night, but is the energy from tonight against a low-end team in the league a sign of the Mavericks rolling or are there still poor, effortless performances left in this team’s character?
Which Mavericks team are we going to see for the rest of the year?
Maybe the passing of the trade deadline on Thursday will put some of the uncertainty to rest, but the reality for the Mavericks is that most of the change, if there is any, is due to take place this summer and fall. Nothing will be settled on this roster until then, so it’s up to the strength in the Kidd-Dirk-Carlisle locker room to hold together this foundation for at least another year.
For now, wins against teams like Washington are just a small step in the right direction for what will be a tough road to redeem this season.