The Dallas Mavericks have been one of the biggest surprises in the NBA this season but they enter the All-Star break in poor form.
The Mavericks (29-26) are currently sitting in sixth place in the Western Conference playoff race, however, they are closer to being out of the playoffs than taking over fifth place after going 4-6 in their last 10 games. Dallas is two games ahead of ninth-place Houston and 2.5 games behind Memphis. The Mavs are only 10-13 since the calendar year turned to 2016.
Dallas ended its pre-All-Star set of games with a heart-breaking 121-119 overtime home loss to the Utah Jazz as Gordon Hayward knocked down the game-winner at the buzzer. That wasn’t the worst part, as the Mavs blew a 15-point lead and allowed a game-tying three-pointer to Rodney Hood with 1.9 seconds left as Chandler Parsons failed to rotate to Hood.
Dallas could have possibly prevented the game from going into overtime if coach Rick Carlisle had instructed the Mavs to foul 62-percent free throw shooter Trey Lyles, who was dribbling with his back to the basket 16-feet from the basket.
This isn’t the first time the Mavericks have given up a late game-tying three-pointer as they surrendered one with 23-seconds remaining to Memphis on February 6. Dallas did win that game, though.
“It’s an easy question to ask after the fact,” Carlisle told ESPN after the Jazz game. “We decided not to. We decided to switch it and make them make as difficult a shot as possible. They did. Give them credit.”
Overall, Dallas is an average team right now. The Mavericks didn’t expect to be in playoff position after failing to sign DeAndre Jordan and having massive roster changes for the fourth consecutive season. Dallas ranks 18th in the league in scoring (100.8), 19th in rebounds (42.9), 18th in assists (21.4), and 15th in points allowed (101.7).
There is good news.
Deron Williams has found new life in Big D, and while he is not the player he was a few years ago, he has remained relatively healthy and is the team’s second-leading scorer as well as the top distributor. Dirk Nowitzki has shown that age is just a number, as the 37-year-old is leading the team with 17.6 points a game and shooting nearly 45 percent from the floor. Nowitzki has become mainly a perimeter play with nearly 50 percent of his shots coming of catch and shoot situations. Nowitzki leads the club with a plus-3.5 minus rating.
Chandler Parsons and Wesley Matthews have also performed admirably after undergoing major surgeries this offseason. Parsons posted back-to-back 20-point efforts (24 and 26, respectively) in his last two games and is averaging 17.4 points while shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from beyond the arc in five February games. Matthews is fourth on the team in scoring at 12.1 points a game, although he has been a consistent threat from beyond the arc, making 2.3 triples a game. Also, Zaza Pachulia playing his best basketball of his career and Raymond Felton is having a nice bounce-back season.
So, what do the Mavericks need to remain in the top eight in the Western Conference?
Dallas needs shooters, which is why the Mavs have been linked to Joe Johnson and Kevin Martin, per the Inquisitr. Hoops Habit put out Jared Dudley as someone who could aid the Mavericks shooting woes.
Dudley has been nearly automatic from long-distance, knocking down a career-best 46.6 percent of his three-pointers. The 30-year-old is also making a career-high 48.6 percent of all his shots and is averaging 8.6 points a game for Washington.
Bobby Marks of the Vertical believes Felton is one player that the Mavericks could move at the deadline though he also said that with the Mavs being the third oldest team in the NBA, they should not consider trading Dwight Powell or rookie Justin Anderson.
What do you think the Mavs should do to improve the team?
[Photo by Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press]