Mavs

Mavs Still Looking to Establish Consistent Output

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Consistency is like a good rug.

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The crucial concept may be the final component for the Dallas Mavericks to break through, in earnest. They have surely exceeded expectations this season. The Donč is an absolute marvel to behold each night. A highlight play isn’t in question, rather it’s when the first one will occur. The role-players have built up a strong chemistry with their young leader; forming a bouncy bench that is ready to run at all times.

Alas, sometimes breathtaking buckets and head-spinning dimes aren’t enough.

 

Over the past 10 games, the Mavs have racked up an ordinary 5-5 record. Missing Kristaps for the latter eight games has hurt, to be sure, especially since Porzingis seemed to be finding a rhythm in the games while Luka was briefly out due to injury.

Since their home win against the Spurs on 12/26, the Mavericks have been sporting a basic +2.5 rating as a team, ranking 10th overall in the league during that span. In comparison, they rank 4th overall for the season, with a thicc +6.9 rating. That is quite a precipitous drop-off.

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However, a simply fascinating wrinkle I am intrigued by at the moment, is what will GM Donnie Nelson decide to do with their two trade exceptions.

They have a $1.2M TE from trading WessyWes to the Knicks in the KP deal – which EXPIRES on 1/31/20.

In addition, they have a humongous $11.8M TE from when they dealt Harrison Barnes to the Kings – which EXPIRES on 2/7/20 (a day after the Trade Deadline).

If the Mavs do not use these two exceptions, they will simply disappear. This ability to absorb contracts seems like an extremely important building block in the team’s future. Keep your eyes on this plot-line as we near February 6th at 3pm (EST).

Looking forward to the upcoming schedule, Dallas has a stretch of eight straight games against Western Conference opponents. They will be on the road for five of those games – while they will only face four opponents that are above .500 within this slate. This seems like a vital time to take control of the season.

The Unicorn should be coming back at full capacity shortly, allowing Carlisle to steady their rotation.

Currently sitting at 6th in the West and just 2.5 games behind 3rd, let’s take a quick glance at the trifecta of opponents this week and the X-Factor for each contest that the Mavericks must key in on.

WEDNESDAY 1/15 @ SACRAMENTO

Vlade Divac’s tenure as General Manager of the Kings has been eventful, to put it mildly. Last season, the team seemed to finally be on the right path, infused with young hungry players and a coach who overachieved with the squad.

Then, Vlade happened. He acquired Harrison Barnes from the Mavericks, Luke Walton was brought in as the new HC, he signed Dewayne Dedmon, parted ways with Willie Cauley-Stein and Alec Burks. What wouldn’t he do?

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As a result, the 2019-2020 Kings haven’t been able to capture that same fun magic they had between them last season. Having their star point guard De’Aaron Fox out for an extended period wasn’t ideal either.

They are the 19th ranked team in the league, projecting an ugly -2.2 rating, with a record of 3-6 in that span.

*X-FACTOR: Dominating the 1st Quarter.

The Kings are prone to hang around if allowed, which only gives Fox and Buddy a chance to go off. A hot streak, off the jump, is a big propeller for Sacramento.

If you can neutralize their offensive attack early on, by locking down on their deep threat barrage, it can pay dividends. It will be on Dorian Finney-Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. to set the tone on in the defensive half court.

At the same time, the bigs for Dallas must keep tabs on Nemanja Bjelica who has the knack of blending in among the other bodies on the court only to find space behind the arc for a dagger.

FRIDAY 1/17 vs. PORTLAND

Even after a surprising (and fortuitous) run in last year’s playoffs, reaching the Western Conference Finals, I was quite skeptical of what Rip City‘s fortunes would be this season.

They lucked out in their draw, while also capitalizing on several injuries to other teams. Any hopes to make another deep run would need some major retooling.

I questioned their make-up. Losing Big Nurk for a large part of this season would be devastating. He was just making the leap prior to his terrible injury. Trading for Hassan Whiteside didn’t seem like the answer either.

But any concerns I had did not seem to line up with the Blazers‘ front office. Now, they are mired in a nightmare campaign. Currently, they are sitting outside the playoff picture, with seemingly no real assets to trade unless they decide to blow up their vaunted guard pairing.

In their past nine games, they are 2-7 with a brutal -7.7 rating, ranking them 27th overall in the league in that time.

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Dame Dolla is doing whatever is needed – dropping dimes and rhymes. It just hasn’t been translating to wins, as it had in years past. With the trade deadline on the horizon, GM Neil Olshey will have a lot to think about. A postseason spot is still attainable — the question is, how do they get there?

*X-FACTOR: Winning the bench-scoring battle.

The Bench Mob for the Mavericks will be the bell weather for this game. Portland‘s strength is their starting unit, so the minutes when the second wave of players is on the floor will be essential to securing a win in the friendly confines of American Airlines Center.

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Coach Carlisle will need to juggle his lineups correctly in this game in order to offset any counters by former lead assistant, and current Blazers HC, Terry Stotts. Should be a fun battle between the team’s star players as well.

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