Dallas Mavericks Basketball: Heart Of Champions?

It really pains me to say anything negative about my Dallas Mavericks, but I just don’t know what has happened to them. Last season, they had the heart of a champion, they had the eye of the tiger, they had the determination to stop at nothing to get that elusive Larry O’Brien Trophy and now, well it looks very bleak at the end of the tunnel. I’m waiting on the fat lady to sing or have Don Meredith to come out singing “turn out the lights, the party’s over”. But I don’t want to, I want to have the faith that I had last season.

I realize that was last season and this is now, but the core of the heart is still there, the basis of the need to repeat is there, it’s just lost for now and they need to find a way to get it back.

Coming into this shortened season, everyone knew that there might be rough patches as a team and there were some that were a little more physically prepared than some, but that is no excuse and those that recognized it, made no excuses, well, most anyway. Dallas was not able to get things done for them before the season started in order to celebrate the way most champions were able to do and it seems that the celebration drug on forever as to get all the festivities out of the way, but now here we are at the end of the season and we really don’t look much better than when we began.

Dallas started the season off rough by facing Miami in Dallas on the same night that they hung their championship banner and granted it was a great ceremony, but Dallas was not mentally prepared to play ball that night and Miami got a little of their revenge against Dallas that night, then we finally get our rings and we had a ring ceremony after ring ceremony and on the night the players got their rings that are no longer with the team, Dallas lost just about every game they played, because mentally their minds were somewhere else and the returning players had something to prove and they did.

Now instead of being at the top of the echelon chain of things, Dallas is fighting just to make the playoffs and they now have 9 games left and it’s not going to be easy. They have had a roller coaster ride all year and they have suffered minor setbacks with injuries to key players, but as last season and seasons before, they have been able to overcome those obstacles and be at the top of things over the last 8-10 years, but not this one, and I feel there are more than what meets the eye as to what the problem is, it’s just no one want to come right out and say it.

But take for instance, in the last two games, against Portland and Memphis, Dallas shot better from the field than both teams, where they averaged over 45% compared to their opponents who shot an average of a little over 41%. Now they did lose a little in the three-point range of shooting by connecting on a little over 36% compared to 38% from their opponents. Now the free throw stats are a horse of a different color as Dallas  shot a dismal 72.8% to an average of 83% from their opponents and then you have the turnovers, where Dallas committed 28 turnovers in the two games to 23 by Memphis and Portland combined. Now what happens a lot when you commit a turnover? Well it usually gives the opponent an advantage and they score easy baskets and that’s what happened in both of these games, pure old sloppy play on Dallas’  part and making their opponents look better than they really were.

Granted Memphis is in the running for the playoffs and doing fairly well this season, but Portland is out of it and in the lower part of the Western Conference and you allow them to score 30 points in one quarter while you score only 10 points? What is wrong with that picture? I’ll tell you, everything, that’s what’s wrong with it. Then you let a guy that has only averaged 11-15 points per game come and burn you for 30 points and connect on 5 of 8 three-pointers and a lot of his shots were plain open shots, without anyone guarding him, there is no excuse for that at all.

When Dallas played Portland, they had 6 guys in double-digit scoring and was trying to win a game, but then it fell apart, as it sometimes does for my Mavericks. Then the same thing happened the very next night in Memphis where Dallas only score 10 points in the opening quarter to Memphis’ 29. Now this night, Dallas had 5 guys in double-digit scoring, but they allowed Rudy Gay to open up a can on them and they couldn’t recover.

Now, here we are about to face the Sacramento Kings, again, another one of those teams that we should beat, but the Mavs have had trouble this season beating teams they were supposed to beat, like the three games in three nights against Phoenix, this same Sacramento team and Golden State. Well, Dallas lost all three of those games and had to come back home with their tails tucked between their legs and try to recoup and they did, for a while.

The Mavericks had a lot of talented players in this team and there is no reason as to why they can’t be higher in the standings than 7th seed, but for some reason they can’t work together as a team and I can’t quite put my finger on it. They have had chemistry amongst themselves in season past, but there is something missing this season and there seems to be a barrier there on the bench and on the court and in the locker room.

Before the season started and we knew we were going to lose Tyson Chandler, and then Caron Butler, and then JJ Barea and then Deshawn Stevenson, a lot of people wrote Dallas off and said there was no way they would repeat at champions, and they might have been right; but then Dallas acquired Lamar Odom for a little bit of nothing and we thought, wow, this will help fill some of that void. Odom was a Laker, was the reigning Sixth Man Of The Year, he should be able to bring something to the table. Well that has not been the case all season long and I think that is part of the problem with the Mavericks. Now that’s not the only problem, but it can be a part of it.

If you were to listen to him speak and watch his body language, you could tell he didn’t really want to be here and his feelings were tremendously hurt and he just wanted to get away from LA and so Dallas got him at a bargain price.

It was kind of funny to listen to Kobe talk after the Lakers game in Dallas and said that he was kind of glad that Dallas didn’t know what to do with him, that only he could unlock the ways of Lamar Odom. That’s funny, I don’t care who you are. Odom is a grown man and he needed to have stepped up no matter where he was. He is a professional athlete that has been in the league for a long time and knows that business is business; but if someone is paying you to perform, then you damn well better do just that and he hasn’t.

There were glimpses of his ways from the past, but a flicker don’t keep the candle burning and he has no one to blame for what has happened to himself in Dallas but himself. Then you hear about his wife tweeting that she is upset that he is getting booed at; well what do you want people to do that pay money, money that goes into your pocket to do when you lolly gag around the court and don’t give your best. Now I know everyone is going to have ups and downs and an off night, but this has been going on since December, five months ago  and it’s time to put on your big boy panties and grow up.

So where does Dallas go from here, well they better put together some wins and make a mad dash for the finish line in fine form or they will be watching all the playoffs from their living room and wondering, “what happened?”

And with that, I will bid you a good night and say good luck and let’s go Mavs!