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Where Do We Go From Here?

Posted By Max Barton On Mar 18 2012 @ 10:17 am In Dallas Mavericks | No Comments

The Mavs can make excuses about that latest stretch of games, nine in 12 days, but it is unacceptable for this team to go 2-7 with losses to four of the worst teams in the West.  The schedule down the stretch isn’t as compact the rest of the way, but the Mavs have a tougher schedule the rest of the season playing 15 playoff teams, 10 in a row, in their final 21 games. Dallas returned home after a 0-3-road trip, beating Washington and Charlotte this week, even though they were wins, it wasn’t very impressive since the win against Charlotte was almost lost after Dallas was up by 14 late in the fourth quarter.
Mavs GM Donnie Nelson made comments earlier in the week stating that the team will be fine once they get some of their injured players back.  Haywood is expected to miss at least five more games with a sprained knee, while Delonte West is still recovering from finger surgery and is not yet ready to have his surgical pins removed. West has been out since February 15 and wont be able to start his rehab until the pins are removed. Roddy Beaubois has only been improving since he has had more playing time due to West’s injury.  In the wins over Charlotte and Washington, Beaubois combined for 33 points (15 of 24 shooting), 10 rebounds, 7 assists and four steals.  Only down spot is the seven assists, you would like to see more than 3.5 assists a game from your point guard, but can not complain about Roddy only committing two turnovers. With Haywood out, Ian Mahinmi will start at center and depending on how he plays against bigs like Tim Duncan and Andrew Bynum in coming games, could take over the starting role. Mahinmi spent his first two seasons in San Antonio as an understudy to Tim Duncan, and has improved his game in nearly every facet. He has displayed great defense in the low post, a nice midrange jumper and offensive low post moves.  Mahinmi provides great energy and almost has identical numbers to starter Haywood, despite playing almost 6 minutes less.
There have been a lot of rumors circulating around the league regarding Dallas possibly acquiring two big name free agents this summer, Deron Williams and Dwight Howard.  Howard listed Dallas as a destination he wanted to be traded to, along with New Jersey and Los Angeles.  Dwight wants to play with Derron Williams and that is why New Jersey and Dallas were on his trade wish list.  Dallas has been in desperate need for a big man, Tyson Chandler being the only solid contributor in recent memory.  Williams is a Dallas native, from The Colony, and has repeatedly stated he enjoys playing at the American Airlines Center in front of his family and friends. With Dwight waiving his right to become a free agent this summer, he will be under contract with the Magic for another year and will not be signing with Dallas this offseason.  Even though the dream scenario is to have Dwight and Deron playing along side Dirk, Dallas will only be able to get Williams this summer when and if he chooses to opt out of his current deal with the Nets.  These rumors have affected the team this year to say the least, Jason Terry was critical stating the front office is just preparing for next year.  Terry was hoping to get a new contract this offseason and hopefully retire as a Maverick, but Dallas is trying to have as much cap space as possible for this summer.  This has defiantly been a distraction most of the year, with Terry whining about his contract situation and Odom not committing to the team this year.  Look for Dallas to move on from both players this offseason and bring in a big name free agent like Deron Williams, who would pair up great with Dirk.  
Even though this hasn’t been the greatest season for the Mavericks, they still rank in the top 10 in rebounds and points allowed per game. The hope has been most of the season that Lamar Odom would eventually get comfortable and his performance would be what it was when he played in Los Angeles.  With 21 games left, all that hope has gone out the window and its just time to realize Odom’s problems have been above the shoulders.  If Odom plays at the level he is capable of, there is no reason not to think of a possible return to the Finals for the Mavs, but I don’t see that miracle happening.  Odom will continue to be a liability for this team unless he can start contributing.  His talent level is too high for him to just sub in and out for Dirk, an ideal lineup would be to have Odom play the 3 and complement Dirk.  Odom is a great ball handler, played point guard in High School, rebounder and scorer, it just hasn’t shown this season and it has been sad to watch knowing he hasn’t played up to his skill set.  
Currently, there is a game difference in the West standings between fourth and eighth place, the West is wide open just waiting for a team to take it. Dallas should finish as a top 4 seed, but with a tough schedule down the stretch and the distractions of Terry and Odom weighing the team down, Dallas could be anywhere from third to eighth place in the West come playoff time.  A deep playoff run looks unlikely for the Mavericks with the way things have been lately, but never underestimate a veteran team in the playoffs.  Young guys are great to have during the regular season, but it is the veterans that win come playoff time.

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