The Mavericks play in week 12 kept a theme running that has been seen in Dallas the entire season. The Mavericks have the ability to beat the teams on their schedule that they should beat, but they continue to disappoint in games against the best teams in the Western Conference.
Dallas leaves week 12 with two wins in four games. Aside from their first game of the week against the lottery-bound Orlando Magic, the Mavericks had a challenging series of games against three strong teams in the Western Conference.
The Mavericks handled the aforementioned Orlando Magic by a score of 107-88 on Jan. 13. The Magic came into the missing their leading scorer, Arron Afflalo, and their leading rebounder, Nikola Vucevic. The Magic are not a team than can expect to beat many teams while they are missing two of their best players. Dallas was led by Monta Ellis, who had 21 points and the Mavericks were able to put this game away early.
The Mavericks second game of the week was a tough matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center on Jan 15. The Mavericks were in control of the game as they were ahead of the Clippers by 17 points with just more than four minutes remaining. Fans in Los Angeles were beginning to leave and it looked the Mavericks had an impressive road win in the books. Then, for the second time this season, the Clippers staged a stunning fourth-quarter comeback that left the Mavericks completely dumbfounded.
The Clippers won 129-127 as Dallas failed to execute even simple plays down the stretch. Dirk Nowitzki summed it up by saying, “There’s no way we should lose this game, we’ve got to do a better job of protecting a lead.”
Dallas then traveled to play the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center on Jan. 17. Dallas and Phoenix went back and forth until Dallas began to pull away in the second half. The Mavericks received an unexpected boost from rookie Shane Larkin, who scored 18 points, a career high for the first-round pick out of the University of Miami.
Even in the win, the Mavericks did everything they could do to give the Suns an opportunity to get back in the game. Vince Carter was unable to inbound the ball to Monta Ellis with less than three seconds on the clock and the Suns had a chance at a game-tying 3-pointer. Dallas was fortunate to hold on for the 110-107 victory.
The Mavericks final game of the week was a home matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Mavericks most impressive win of the season to date was a 108-106 road win at the Moda Center against the Trail Blazers on Dec. 7. This time around, Portland left little doubt who the better team was.
The Trail Blazers won 127-111, but the game was over in the second quarter. Rick Carlisle called the loss beyond embarrassing and even that does not seem harsh enough for anyone that witnessed the beating the Trail Blazers put on the Mavericks.
The Mavericks defense was atrocious as the Trail Blazers scored easily in every conceivable manner. The Trail Blazers were led by LaMarcus Aldridge, who had 30 points and 12 rebounds. The 28-year-old Dallas native now has 24 double-doubles on the season.
Rick Carlisle vowed to find guys that are going to fight and get them in the game, after a performance like this he has no choice. If the Mavericks want to escape the current path they are on, feelings may have to be hurt and changes may need to be made.
The Mavericks hit the road for three games in week 13 before returning home on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Monday, Jan. 20 at Cleveland Cavaliers
The Mavericks’ first game of the week takes them on the road to Cleveland for a contest against the 15-25 Cavaliers. The Cavaliers had playoff aspirations before the season began but their lineup has failed to play a collective brand of basketball conducive to winning.
Free-agent signing Andrew Bynum was not surprisingly a bust, No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Bennett has failed to make an impact of any kind and guards Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving have struggled to co-exist.
The Cavaliers recently bolstered their lineup with the addition of Luol Deng, so they are clearly hoping for a second half run that will allow them the pleasure of being knocked out in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
While the Cavaliers are not a great team, they are 10-8 at home, compared to 5-17 on the road. Expect the Mavericks pride to kick in and push them to a victory after the thumping that Portland delivered in the previous game.
Wednesday, Jan. 22 at Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors have quietly ascended to the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors play drastically improved following trade of small forward Rudy Gay. The trade has allowed guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan to move freely with the ball and the Raptors ball movement has been more efficient without Gay controlling the rock.
Toronto should not sneak up on the Mavericks since they came into the American Airlines Center and surprised Dallas with a 109-108 overtime victory on Dec. 20. The Raptors have won seven of eight games at the Air Canada Centre and this game presents a bigger challenge than it may appear to be on paper.
Friday, Jan. 24 at Brooklyn Nets
Dallas heads to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to face the team that was supposed to contend with the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers this season. The Nets are yet another team finding out the hard way that championship teams are rarely built through wild, overspending in free agency.
The Nets enter the week with a 16-22 record but they have begun to turn things around. The Nets enter the week having won six of their last seven games. The Nets are beginning to gel as a team despite the fact that starting point guard Deron Williams cannot stay healthy.
Sunday, Jan. 26 vs. Detroit Pistons
Dallas returns home for their only game at the American Airlines Center in week 13. The Pistons may enter the week with a record of 17-24, but that makes you a playoff team in the Eastern Conference. Detroit’s roster received a makeover in the offseason as they traded for point guard Brandon Jennings and signed power forward Josh Smith in free agency.
The Pistons surprisingly play better on the road (10-10) than they do at home (7-13). The presence of talented young center Andre Drummond and forward Greg Monroe will surely be a headache for the Mavericks in the paint. Point guard Brandon Jennings may not shoot the ball at a high percentage (.374), but if he catches fire the Pistons become a tough team to contend with. Jennings has scored 25 points or more five times this season.