The Dallas Mavericks enter the week at 30-39 after a win at Brooklyn that, as Fish put it in this piece right here, earns a response of "Hurray, I guess.''
Hey, anything is better than getting blown out—but all the Mavs really did is take a narrow win over the team with the worst record in the NBA.
In the last week the Mavs lost to a couple of teams that won’t make the playoffs, and then managed a tiny victory over a third.
Still, for a team with the aspiration of catching Portland and Denver (and not being embarrassed by San Antonio or Golden State as is the likely fate facing them in the unlikely event they're the No. 8 seed)—this isn’t good enough. Not even close.
So ... is it time, finally, to tank?
I’ve been asking this question for longer than most people. ... Somewhere around the Mavs 15th loss of the season, well before the second half of the schedule started.
So, I understand if my repetition of this refrain sounds familiar. Especially as here at DBcom, this is literally the third consecutive article we've published on the subject. (See Fish's Sunday Mavs Donuts here). But that doesn't mean we're "redundant''; it just means we're SERIOUS.
Really, can someone please point me toward a scenario in which the Mavs can catch the teams ahead of them, when they can’t consistently beat teams like Phoenix or Philly?
I said it before: Yes, the Mavs might be able to climb in the standings, and they might be able to catch one or two of the teams ahead of them—but it would be virtually impossible to catch everyone ahead of them in such a short time.
Time is shorter than ever. With matchups against Golden State (on Tuesday at the AAC), the Clippers, Toronto and OKC, they couldn’t afford to falter (read as: get embarrassed) vs. the likes of Philly. They couldn’t afford to get Bookered last Saturday.
Now, they’re looking for wins against tough opponents just to make up for losses vs. suspect competition. That’s hard enough to find when the season is young and full of hope. It’s much harder to find in March, with 13 games to go.
Then again—it’s gonna be pretty hard to lose their way back into the bottom 4 or 5 teams as well—so if you’ve ever wanted a snapshot of the treadmill of mediocrity—the Mavs are putting together a performance piece instead.
To wit: Not much has changed in the pit of the lotto chase since the last time I talked about it—but while the Mavs haven’t managed to get any closer to the 8th seed, they have moved a little farther away from the top pick.
The Mavs have win just enough to go from a 1.1% chance at the 1st pick, down to a 0.8% chance at the first pick. Meanwhile, they’ve fallen a full 3 games behind Denver for the 8th seed in the West, 2 games behind Portland for the 9th seed, and both of those teams have improved their win pace.
Denver, for what that’s worth, has even managed to improve their point differential to a net-positive of 0.4 points per game.
The Mavs have a lot of work to do in the last 13 games, and I’m not sure tight wins over the Nets are the moments that ought to be acting as milestones.
The chances of winning the No. 1 overall pick are virtually gone. The chances of being in the top five or so, same. But we'll watch this week believing that the 10th overall pick is better than the 11th ... and that the 10th is also better than beating Brooklyn.