Welp, I saw this team with my own eyes.
After about 10 games this season, I started feeling a weird knot in my stomach when I would check in on a game. For the first time that I can remember I started being indifferent to wins and losses, and then I started pulling for losses slightly.
I’m not proud of it, but those are the dynamics at play in today’s NBA. It’s a race to the bottom to build back up quickly. Why this league would incentivize losing is beyond me and for another day.
The Dallas Mavericks are not a destination team. I don’t know that they ever were, but they fancied themselves as so and tried unsuccessfully, sometimes comically, to lure free agent after free agent.
Not too long ago in a fit of anger after another loss I had my breaking point and went off rails on owner Mark Cuban. But after watching this team live in action, I’m ready to back off on all those assertions.
This is a team with a bad record, not a bad team. Make no mistake they aren’t a good team, but they are most definitely not a bad team. Yes, once ever 15 games they are severely out talented and will get their doors blown off. But, they are mostly in competitive games that they just can’t finish the way they have in the past 5 years or so.
It’s pretty obvious why? Dirk is their closer. There are two parts to each NBA game. The one played in the first 43 minutes, and the one played in the last 5 minutes.
It’s the NBA, everybody makes a run. But in those last 5 minutes it is the team that executes the best that has the best chance of winning the game.
Dirk and Jet Terry had a devastating two-man game for the better part of a decade that won games for Dallas. Jet isn’t flying much these days and the Uberman is old.
The idea was to always move Dirk in these years to the bench because that would save his legs and he could be counted on during ‘Winning Time.’ But with miss after miss in free agency he continued to be the Mavs number 1 option. He can’t be that anymore, and that he was able to hold on as long as he did is miraculous. I mean there are only 5 people in the world who have scored more points than him.
Sky Hook, The Mail Man, The Black Mamba, His Airness, & a guy who once scored 100 points in one game. That’s the list.
But back to the team at hand. They are athletic, aggressive, and fun. My favorite young Mav, Justin Anderson registered 2 minutes because other guys are playing better and smarter. Dorian Finney-Smith was a man possessed as he and 3 other Mavs had at least 15 with another 14 and 13 point performance beyond that.
They don’t have that one Alpha which is what you need in the game today. Or like Golden State where you already have one and find another one and turn him into a Beta for fun.
That’s the problem with this Mavs team, they don’t have ‘The Man’ and for all there is to love about Dirk, it can’t be him even when he does return.
My hope is that he comes back for the last 25 games of the year, the Mavs pull a winning record during that stretch and he plays well enough to know he can come back next year. definitely believe that can happen. The Mavs just don’t have the pieces to pull the trades off that they used to, and being burned by the last three major acquisitions has made them gun shy. Lamar Odom is clinging to life, Rajon Rondo was THE WORST, and DeAndre Jordan liking the Cowboys makes me hate Cowboys fans too.
This team isn’t bad, they just aren’t good. Yet.