Well, here we are after the All-Star break and the Dallas Mavericks are ready to head into the final half of the season. With them sitting at 23-29, currently in 11th spot in the Western Conference, not all is as bleak as some would think. Dallas is only 1 game behind the two teams that share the 9th and 10th seeds, LA Lakers and Portland, and only 4.5 games behind the 8th spot Houston Rockets, so all is not lost.
Prior to the break, Dallas was hosting a 4 game home stand and finished that series 3-1 with a win over Portland, Golden State and Sacramento and only suffering a 4 point loss to the Atlanta Hawks, so it was a fairly good series for the Mavs.
So now the question is, what’s next? Does Dallas entertain players before the 3pm Thursday trade deadline or stay put for the rest of the season and see what happens in free agency over the summer?
A lot of talk has been about Shawn Marion and Vince Carter in the trade shuffle and we all know what Marion has stated about being traded, but we can certainly understand that a seasoned veteran, such as himself, would want to be on a team that is a contender and not a rebuilding team of a bunch of youngsters that you have to teach them the aspect of the game.
I know people have speculated about Dallas and their rebuilding process, but at the same time, they have a mixture of veterans and youth that have speed and agility, but the vets have the knowledge that can continue to have an impact on the younger players like Darren Collison and O J Mayo and rookies like Bernard James and Jae Crowder, so it’s not like there is a complete changing of the guard, but minor adjustments that need to be made.
So again, what does Dallas do? I am so tired of hearing people say that the only way Dallas is going to get anything in return is if they were to trade Dirk; well folks, put that dog to rest because I would be willing to bet my last dollar that Dirk will remain a Maverick through the rest of his current contract. But at the same time, is it fair for him to stay with a team that may or may not have a chance to win another title with the manifesto of players he has now?
I have to ponder a lot on that because even though Dirk has given his all to this team, this city and this organization, he has suffered a lot because of it. For years he struggled as a player to get to where he is now and he had that ugly “soft” label stuck to him for years, but I can attest that it should be forever removed from him since he carried his team to a championship in 2011. Now before y’all get on your high horses and want to rant about it, what I mean is, this is Dirk’s team, has been and will be and if it were not for him, the Mavericks would not have won a title period. Yes, JET was on fire in game 6 and sealed the deal, but it was Dirk who made everything else happen in games 1-5.
Now he didn’t do it alone, no; he had the plays of Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion and the defensive prowess of Tyson Chandler and the slickness of JJ Barea and the touch of Peja Stojakovic’s three pointers and the eye of the cat in Deshawn Stevenson to help make it happen. But what Dirk did was to make it possible for everyone to do what they did because of what he did. He drew the attention of the defenders, thereby giving someone the open opportunity for a shot, he took the beatings and hits to get to the line for the free throws to add gravy to points and he made teams and coaching staff stay up late at night trying to figure out how to guard a 7′ power forward that plays like a guard.
That’s what Dirk did and that’s why he carried this team to a championship and he really deserves another one. But the reason that I feel that he will stay with Dallas is because of who he is, a loyal person that gives back to people that have given to him and I really feel that he would feel guilty moving away to another team from Dallas. So to Dirk, we owe you our everything basketball and you will definitely go down in history as one of the best players ever.
So now that again brings me back to what should Dallas do? During this last 4 game stay, the Mavs averaged 111 points per game and held their opponent to just under 100 points a game. They shot about 46.7 from the field and kept their opponents at around 43.6%, which is pretty good for the fast paced teams they faced; they also protected the ball by only committing 42 turnovers in those 4 games but forced 58 and had 22 blocks and 99 assists and had their bench to provide 172 points in scoring compared to 96 by their opponents; not bad for an older team, as some want to call them.
Dallas has always been big in bench scoring, so this doesn’t surprise me, but when I looked at other teams they have faced, not many teams have scored as much as they have, so they really appreciate sharing the wealth and that also shows in the number of assists they have. The Mavs have, over the last several seasons, been a team that shares the ball well and just in the last 4 games, they averaged right at 25 assists per game while their opponents averaged only 19; so as we can all see that the Mavericks games has evolved into a team game and not just a one man show as some of the other teams in the league.
A few more tidbits of information to add to the pot is that during this 4 game series, Coach Rick Carlisle won his 500th game as a head coach, Vince Carter passed “Legend” Larry Bird on the all time scoring list, look out Gary Payton, we are gunning for you and our beloved Dirk passed the ever impressionable Wilt Chamberlan in free throw history of the NBA, he is now 15th on the list and he is also the 29th player to hit 1300 three pointers in the NBA and he is now 2nd in Mavs history in offensive rebounds; not bad for a squirrely, lanky kid from Germany that had hopes and dreams of one day playing the NBA.
So now we start the last part of the season and face the Orlando Magic at home, then it’s off to New Orleans and then back home for the Lakers and Milwaukee before finishing off the month with the Grizzlies in Memphis; the rest of the season is open as far as I’m concerned and it’s up to the Mavericks how that season is going to end. Don’t just play for a playoff spot, play with your heart and play because you really want to win something more than just a game. As their saying is now “fear the beard!” and hopefully their opponents will fear them.
And with that, I will bid you a good day and say good luck and let’s go Mavs!