Kings At Mavs Preview: 7 Odds & Trends
ODDS & TRENDS 1
The Dallas Mavericks give up leads. Coach Rick Carlisle, as witness for the defense, says it happens to everybody.
"It's a hard league and you've got to play for 48 minutes," Carlisle said in review of Thursday's 109-103 loss to the Clippers in which Dallas held an 11-point lead with 8:40 remaining. "We've seen it all year, and it's not just happening with us. We've beaten teams and we've come back from 10-point-plus deficits, and you see it a lot.
"There's a lot of wild-card stuff going on."
While that may be true ... the team hovering at the bottom of the group of eight that cuts down on the "wild'' is the team that is advancing to the West playoffs.
Typifying the problem is what happened against the Clips. In the final five minutes, Dallas was outscored 16-5, out-free-throwed 10-of-10 to 3-of-7 and outrebounded 10 to 4. Against the Clippers, Dallas has permitted late-game runs every time this year ... but in all these losses in games when Dallas once held a 14-points-or-greater lead, it's happened against the Torontos and the Brooklyns and the Clevelands, too.
"A 10-point lead at any juncture of the game, unless you've got it with a minute left, doesn't guarantee you anything,'' Carlisle said.
Believe us, Coach, we get it. It's the Mavs players who don't seem to be catching on.
ODDS & TRENDS 2
Dallas had its sights on making a major jump in the standings during this eight-game homestand. But instead, the Mavs are 3-3 so far and at 43-30 have actually slipped, falling from seventh in the Western Conference to ninth, and moving from being 1.5 games in front of pursuers to being one-half game behind No. 8 Memphis.
Another shift can come tonight. The Grizzlies do not play Saturday after losing for just the sixth time in 22 games on Friday, a defeat at the hands of the Warriors.
The No. 7 Suns are one game up on the Mavericks. Phoenix is idle after having won its sixth game in a row on Friday, a drubbing of the Knicks.
ODDS & TRENDS 3
Dallas can win this game with its flood of talent off the bench.
Devin Harris is a spark at the point. Brandan Wright is a spark inside. Vince Carter is considered such an offensive weapon by Carlisle that he often finishes games in place of Shawn Marion. (I might argue that Dallas could actually manage some late-game stops if this philosophy was not employed, but that's another story.)
On Thursday, Carter outscored the entire Clippers' bench, 23-21. ... and in fairness to Vince, his success is often a measuring stick for the Mavs. That Clippers game marks the first time time in eight outings when Dallas has lost when Carter hits at least 60 percent of his shots.
But more non-guarantees regarding bench production: Thursday, the Mavs bench outscored the Clippers bench 51-21. But the starters didn't hold up their end, so it was all for naught.
ODDS & TRENDS 4
Over the last five games, the oft-beleaguered Samuel Dalembert is averaging 7.8 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 23.2 minutes. He'll have a test inside tonight against DeMarcus Cousins, who is 10th in the NBA with 22.2 points per game.
Sacto can test you on the wing as well, with Rudy Gay averaging 19.8 points.
ODDS & TRENDS 5
When the Mavs stop you, it's usually not due to "shut-down'' defense; it's often Monta and other risk-takers coming up with the steal.
And when you stop the Mavs? Sometimes it's shut-down, but over the course of the last five games, it's often due to Carlisle's dreaded "catastrophic turnovers.'' Over the last five games, Mavs opponents have averaged 23 points-off-turnovers -- seven more than the season average allowed.
ODDS & TRENDS 6
Sacramento might not exactly be able to stop Dirk and Monta. But if the two play poorly in the same game? Dallas stops itself.
This happened Thursday, as Dirk missed all six shot attempts he took in the fourth and went 2-of-5 from the line. Just when Dallas needed Robin to fix things for Batman, Ellis suffered through his second least efficient shooting game of the season, making just 4-of-19.
The good news: Dirk is worthy of our bounce-back trust. And in his last three games against the Kings, Monta Ellis is averaging 23.3 points per.
ODDS & TRENDS 7
The three Dallas losses so far in this eight-game homestand have come by a combined total of 10 points.
While the Kings have won just 25 games, in their two meetings with Dallas so they've proven more than capable of being involved in tight endings. Dallas and Sacramento have split the series so far. Sacramento won at home, 112-97, back on Dec. 9. And in Dallas on Jan. 31, the Mavericks were down 14 in the third -- wild-card! -- before storming back to win, 107-103.
"Their team has all the kinds of things that give us a lot of problems," Carlisle said. "They're very physical on the inside, they rebound it really well, they have great quickness with [Isaiah] Thomas on the outside and they've got an athletic wing guy in Gay that had 30-plus points against us last game, so it's another hard game.''
The Mavericks have won 16 of 18 overall matchups in this series, and the Kings haven't won in Dallas since Feb. 27, 2003. This year's Sacramento bunch has lost eight of 11 and six of seven away from home, including Friday's 94-81 loss at OKC. Thomas (quad) didn't play. The status of Derrick Williams (illness) is in question as well.
But even with records and illnesses and odds and trends, Carlisle said, "We are not in a position to take anybody lightly. And on paper and on the court, this is a very difficult team for us.''
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