After experiencing their best start in franchise history and having a steady hold of best in the West, teams should be afraid of someone else in the Lone Star State.
The Dallas Mavericks are getting miffed completely by the other team in Texas (and no, we are talking about the Houston Rockets). This is the best team in the West that isn’t getting talked about for many reasons.
Yes, the Spurs are pretty good. San Antonio is 42-8 and sits atop the Western Conference standings with a seven game lead over second place. They are sixth in the league in scoring with 103.9 a game and are committing the fewest personal fouls in the NBA.
In addition, they are doing this in a new system of faster play and more scoring. Last year, they were 15th in the league in scoring under a system that favored lock-down defense. They are doing this with Tim Duncan playing less minutes than ever before in his career. He has only been the leading scorer once this season for the Spurs with only 21 against the Thunder on New Years Day. Their turnovers are staying down and they are doing it with a core that includes several young players in George Hill, DeJuan Blair and Gary Neal. Yes, the Spurs look good.
Chicago and San Antonio are the only two teams that have beaten Dallas twice.
Dirk Nowitzki was out in both games. They went 2-7 without the big German. Seven losses and yes, it’s the Mavericks holding that second place spot in the West and yes, they are seven games behind them.
We can’t say whether or not the Mavs would be number one in the West if Dirk hadn’t gone down. But you have to look at the fact that two wins in there against San Antonio would have eaten away at the Spurs lead in the conference.
He did score seven points in his debut back from injury but quickly responded with 32 a few nights later against Detroit and helped guide the Mavs in a win over the Lakers.
It’s ok though that people aren’t talking about Dallas. It really doesn’t seem to bother this group of players that have known nothing but failure. No one on this team has a ring and Jason Kidd is the only player on the team that has played in the finals twice (both were losses).
It’s not that the Mavs love losing but let’s be honest, it’s nothing new for some of these guys. Dallas has only made it out of the first round once since making the finals with three first-round exits against Golden State, New Orleans and San Antonio.
Dallas is really stepping up in big games and it’s going to get them somewhere eventually. They really showed some grit in their win against the Celtics in Boston last Friday also against the Lakers in Dirk’s third game back from injury. They won both games without a key component as well.
The Mavs have essentially been playing and winning without the guy that is getting paid to score the second most points on the team. Without Caron Butler, the Mavs only have two small forwards that can start and that’s Shawn Marion and now Peja Stojakovic. DeShawn Stevenson is guarding well and shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc (a career best). He has really emerged into an unlikely role player for Dallas and Tyson Chandler is keeping them fired up as well.
Dallas is going into tonight’s game against Cleveland on an eight-game winning streak. It will be a nine-game streak by the end of the evening knowing the pathetic Cavs.
Additionally, February is a very easy month for the Mavs. Aside from one game in Denver on the tenth, they have a very easy road schedule with games in Sacramento, Houston, Washington and Toronto. They are 5-2 against those teams including Denver and they have beaten all of them except Toronto at least once. If the Mavs ever loose to the Raptors again this year, the team should be very ashamed.
Meanwhile, the Spurs are slowing down a bit. They have fallen down to tenth in the league in scoring in their last ten games and experienced a very questionable loss to Portland last Tuesday. Their starters went 26-58 from the floor and LaMarcus Aldridge dropped 40 points on them.
Dallas can only look forward at this point since they should be very assured by how they have performed this season. It’s nothing new that no one is talking about the Mavs but one thing is for sure, Dallas will be on a lot of team’s radar come playoffs.