Mavs Lead

Mavs Still Trying to Crack the Code at Home

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As Luka Magic continues to dazzle us and the boys from Big D continue growing, it nevertheless requires a deep look into the Mavericks‘ vexing record at Home. After going a respectable 24-17 in the friendly confines of the American Airlines Center in 2018-19 with a young, raw bunch, the surprising Mavericks have not been able to crack the code thus far this season.

 

They are currently tied for 6th Place out West with the surging OKC Thunder.

Coach Carlisle‘s crew have gotten there largely due to their fantastic play on the road, where they’ve posted a stellar 17-7 record.

It’s a stark contrast to last season, when they couldn’t even get to double digit road victories, totaling a paltry 9-32 record for the entire campaign.

Last season, simply watching home games on television felt different. It seemed as though the crowd was a constant boost of energy for these young stallions.

In contrast, this season — with their ho-hum record of 14-13 after Wednesday night’s blowout loss to Memphis — I have sensed the squad pressing at times at home, especially if the crowd begins to tilt. They force shots. They rush plays a split second faster than needed. They settle for tough long bombs in an effort to overtake the momentum in one fell swoop.

In a radio interview with Frank Isola, Kristaps Porzingis was asked about the home/road issue after their latest road win in Bankers Life Fieldhouse against the Pacers. His response was, “When you’re home, you want to do so well for the home fan sometimes…”. Basically – they press on occasion when they feel their followers’ gaze growing more dire. That mentality is whack; you simply must avert that logic.

Countering that, when they have been traveling to suit up this season, they’ve played with a surer attitude. They have had a crisper killer instinct on the road.

Luka is still only 20 years old, sometimes we forget that because of his uncanny grasp of the game. But he certainly can fall into this trap at Home. The fans feed his swag meter. I’m all for it – I would just want to use that exuberance in a more conducive way.

When you look at the numbers for comparison, the home/away splits are nearly identical. That’s why it is so frustrating to see them falter while in Dallas. By sheer record, the Mavs sit in the 6 spot in their conference. However, using +/-, they would rank as the 2nd overall seed in the West, boasting a +6.3 differential. But it’s wins and losses that decide actual seeding.

FiveThirtyEight‘s RAPTOR Full Strength Rating actually lists the Mavs with the 8th highest potential score. There is something special brewing with this feisty crew.

The optimistic view here is that the team has played the first 51 games of the season with their top two players missing a combined 20 games (12 for KP and 8 for Luka). This means the other players around their vaunted duo have been able to mature in their absence and sustain those moments of higher responsibility towards the broader picture. Big plus!

In addition, the Mavericks play 17 of their remaining 31 games on the road, which should presumably help their place in the standings once the postseason match-ups are set.

The Mavs have been solid against their Western counterparts, putting together an 18-12 tally against those teams. Even better, they have amassed a wicked 7-1 record within their own Southwest Division — the only loss coming last weekend in Houston, when Luka was out.

At this point, the players must find a way to block out the noise when playing at home and have their wonderful arena be an advantage as the games pass.

With Sevens slated to be back in a week or so, incorporating new addition Willie Cauley-Stein, and simply outlasting the rouged competition on the horizon, the Mavericks have a formidable task ahead of them.

This is the time to seize their place in the larger picture as minds shift toward late-April/May/June in the NBA.

(*All statistics and info listed, current as of 2/6/20)

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