Mavs Frustration: Whupped By Warriors

'Where we are,' Mavs coach Rick Carlisle says poetically, 'the next win is the best win.' Where the Mavs also are: weighed down by the frustration of playoff-level demands and the back-to-back inability, in Portland and now Oakland, to meet those demands.



The Big Lead

The Dallas Mavericks are experiencing a frustrating weekend, and if you're MFFL, you are feeling the same migrane-inducing vibe.

As you wake up on Saturday morning to review Friday's 104-89 loss at Golden State, you can be excused for fresh-squeezing your oranges (or whatever) with extra aggression. Because while the loss might have been expected -- the Warriors are the West's No. 1 seed and just won for the 24th time in 25 games at Oracle -- the standings may have crept up on you.



San Antonio is now a half-game behind you for sixth ... and the Spurs are just 1.5 back of 5th. The bumper-to-bumper traffic is such that you begin to realize that it's not just your lofty top-four goal that's in danger (as close as the 40-24 Mavs are to that); it's your playoff goal altogether, and certainly your hope for postseason advancement altogether, as by the time we get to the second round, four very good NBA teams are going to get dumped.

So you stare into the windshield ... but you also nervously eye the rearview mirror.

This combination of "excitement'' and "dread'' is not exclusive to you; Golden State could conceivably play Round 1 and have to face the Thunder and then if they win, have to face the Spurs in Round 2. No. 1 seeds are guaranteed nothing (as the 2007 Mavs and the 2007 Warriors will always remember) and frustration is part of the playoff ride.

So, in a sense, the Mavs are getting "playoff experience'' right now, even after a back-to-back experience in Portland and Oakland resulting in a pair of blowouts ... because this has been almost playoff-level frustrating.

"We've got to play like a team that's playing for a championship,'' said newcomer/veteran Amar'e Stoudemire, "not a team that's content with going to the playoffs."

That's a fine sentiment but at this moment, it seems as far away from reality as the possibility that every West contender overtakes Dallas seems as close to reality, especially when one considers the upcoming schedule. There are 18 games remaining. Half of those are against West contenders. "Powerhouses,'' Dirk Nowitzki calls them, knowing full-well that this year against such clubs (including, now, Portland and Golden State) Dallas is 5-13.

“I’ve been in this league 17 years and even in our great years, even our championship year, it’s not all smiles,” Nowitzki said. “There were some times we went through rough stretches. You’ve got to just stick with it. You never know what’s going to happen in a month, month-and-a-half once the playoffs start to get rolling.”

Sure, but at the same time, you'd better get "rolling'' yourself ... or what's going to happen is that you don't even make the playoffs.

Monta missing

For somebody who played the second most minutes, (Rondo was on the court for 49 seconds more), Monta Ellis sure had a major impact. A major negative impact.

The Mavs' primary scorer struggled to put the ball in the basket. Monta had more turnovers, (three) than shots made (two). His final line was 2-fof-14 for six points, three rebounds, two assists, and he also had five fouls. All of that culminated in a +/- of minus-26 for him, the worst of any player that stepped on the court here.

Over the previous 10 games, Ellis is averaging just a little over 13 points per game on 37-percent shooting with about three assists and two turnovers. Yet he insists his injured hip is fine. It is not.

Monta's shooting over the course of the last four games: 4-of-16, 8-of-19, 5-of-20 and this 2-of-14.

Smile

What worsens his circumstance: Too little help, due to either injury or the unfortunately-coordinated slumps of others. Chandler Parsons (ankle) hopes to play Sunday against the Lakers (8 p.m. "Mavs Live'' on FOX Sports Southwest), and maybe Devin Harris (who sat Friday with a hand injury) will be back, too.

But Dallas could also use Dirk "back.'' Since since the All-Star Break, The Uberman is right down there with Monta, averaging 12.7 points on 40.1-percent shooting. He got badly outplayed here, making just 5-of-15 shots for 12 points and contributing a rebound while being bullied by strong defender Draymond Green (18 points, nine rebounds, four assists).

Dallas, at the moment, is left pretending that Rondo had an effective game. He did not. ... meanwhile, Steph Curry cruised to 22 points on 11 shots before retiring to cheerlead.

All of this leads to Dallas having six of its last 11. The Mavs have also lost four straight on the road, by scores of 15, 17, 19 and now 15.

Hard to finger-point

Sometimes when players and/or coaches point the finger, it can be the cause for controversy. But at least, when that happens, the problem is being identified. The problem right now is that nobody can point the finger at any individual associated with the Mavs. To highlight that, of those who on Friday played at least seven minutes for the Mavs (meaning non-garbage time, only one player had a positive +/- and that was J.J. Barea at a +6.

The rest of the players who played meaningful minutes went like this, in terms of +/-: Aminu (-5), Stoudemire (-9), Villanueva (-13), Dirk (-13), Jefferson (-15), Tyson (-17), Rondo (-21), and Monta (-26).

We can blame the head coach for SmallBall, or the front office can be second-guessed for the the Rondo trade, or we can hate the schedule-maker, or we can ponder whether the players are good enough. Nobody is immune. They say winning cures all.

Losing does the opposite. And around here, there is as much "balance'' in the losses as there is in the wins.

Anticipating Parsons

This offense is struggling really badly. If you really want proof, the leading scorer for the Mavs had 14 points and goes by the name of Rajon Rondo.

Can Sunday's game in L.A. against the putrid Lakers, which caps a three-game road trip on which the Mavs are currently 0-2, be a "get-well'' card?

Yes. The Lakers' struggles are well-documented. This is the perfect game to regain some swagger, get Parsons back in the groove, and then return home to host King James (LeBron, just to be clear since there seems to be a battle for that title right now).

"The next win is the best win,'' indeed.

Big 3 Stats

The scoreboard is actually generous to the Mavs because this was a much bigger blowout than the 15-point difference suggests. The Mavs got annihilated in every category possible. The Warriors shot 46.9 percent to the Mavs' 36.8 percent. The Warriors were even better from beyond the arc at 47.8 percent and the Mavs were even worse at 30 percent. The Warriors also shot 89.5 percent from the line to the Mavs' 73.1 percent.

Smile

Oh, and of course, the Mavs were outrebounded 51-34.

The Big Lead

“It’s a long season and there are going to be difficult periods,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ve got to keep our energy up. We’ve got to keep our vibe positive. These are two tough games and we didn’t play well in either one of them, which is disappointing, but we’ve got to circle the wagons and get ready for Sunday.”


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