It’s hard to imagine things getting any worse for the Dallas Mavericks right now. Following yet another loss, this time to the Boston Celtics, the Mavs were also hit by the injury bug once again. J.J. Barea, who has been one of the lone bright spots for the Mavs this season, collapsed to the floor in the second half with what appeared to be a significant injury to his calf.
Luckily for the Barea and the Mavs, the injury seems to be a manageable calf strain -- but one that could cause him to miss a few weeks. The news is the one of the only good things that came out of the 90-83 loss in Boston.
"It was awful ... I never felt that before in my basketball career,'' said JJB while wearing a walking boot. "I thought it was an Achilles. The little bit of good news is it's the calf."
The Mavs had kept Boston’s main scoring threat, Isaiah Thomas, under control for a majority of this game, allowing him to score just eight points through the first three quarters. Thomas, however, would explode in the fourth quarter for 22 points, almost single-handedly stealing the win out from underneath the Mavs' feet, scoring 30 points to go along with six assists. Thomas also hit 13 of 16 from the charity stripe, attempting more free throws on his own than the entire Mavericks’ team.
Harrison Barnes, who continues to be the Mavs' best player (and by a pretty substantial margin) did everything he could to keep the Mavs in it, scoring 28 points on 12-of-24 shooting. He was also helped out by Wesley Matthews’ 22-point effort, in what was easily Wes’s best game of the season so far. Matthews hit just under 50 percent from the field, including 6-of-13 from beyond the arc, with some big shots down the stretch in an effort to keep the score close.
The Mavs were absolutely crushed inside in this game, getting out rebounded by a 53-32 margin, and getting outscored in the paint 44-26. Dallas was also outscored on the fast break 15-0, despite 19 turnovers from Boston. The Celtics dominated the hustle plays on Wednesday night, and it turned out to be the deciding factor in the game, though Dallas coach Rick Carlisle doesn't see any of this as an "effort'' problem.
Said Rick: “Our level of force was better in the second half. Our defense was better, which got us into some transition situations. And Barnes carried a big load for us offensively in the second half. I really loved our fight, particularly in the second half, and we’ve just got to stay with it.”
Once again, the offensive deficiencies of this team are rearing their ugly head, as the Mavs can’t seem to put together a decent offensive effort outside of Barnes, who is having a stellar beginning to his Mavs career, averaging 27.6 points over his last five games. Barnes seems to be blossoming under the tutelage of Carlisle.
As to the problems?
“There’s no real secret,'' Barnes said. "We’re just going through some adversity right now.''
Thanks to the ‘Organic Tanking’ (Fish's term that he applied to last year's Dallas Cowboys and may be happening here with the Mavs), there is reason to be somewhat optimistic about the future of this team. Barnes is a stud that the Mavs can build around. With cap space this summer, and a high-enough lottery pick, things could turn around very quickly for Dallas. But that is a discussion for another time.
The Mavs now turn to Friday night’s very winnable home matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies. Like Dallas, The Grizzlies have struggled to put together a consistent offensive attack this season, and rank 25th in the league in points scored per game as we write this. The game also marks the first time Chandler Parsons will return to Dallas after departing for Memphis this summer.
Hopefully for the Dallas offense, the Big German will be ready to make his return for that game, because with Dirk sitting out in Boston and Deron Williams having to leave this game due to injury and now JJB out for a time, too, the Mavs -- who are taking off today to understandably lick their wounds -- desperately need a W before facing a brutal schedule next week, when things could really get out of hand.