I had to turn up the heat in my house after watching the ice-cold Mavericks trying to make a basket in the second half against the Thunder in Oklahoma City. Shooting an awful 31% from the field in the second half, including a whopping 14%, 11 point third quarter, the Mavericks shot selection was awful.
This was a key game for them, and they couldn’t close out a game that was there for the picking.
If you were able to see through the ice, you would have noticed a considerable upgrade on the defense side of the ball. Now let’s not get ahead of ourselves and take anything away from the Thunder. The Thunder shot the ball terribly as well.
I’m willing though to give some credit to the Mavericks. Assistant coach Dwayne Casey really has tightened the defensive reigns, and expects this new-look Mavericks team to be a solid defensive team.
It’s imperative that Rick Carlisle and his staff unite the players and get them to play as one. There were breakdowns on both ends of the court. Mistakes down the stretch were evident, and disheartening.
The Mavericks were pushed around by a young, up and coming Thunder team. The win brings the Thunder a mere half game behind the Mavericks in the Western Conference, as well as a half game separates the Mavericks and their opponent tomorrow night, the Phoenix Suns.
So the powerful offensive punch that Dallas is known for was more like a love tap.
Whether one wants to put the Mavericks lack of rhythm on the All-Star break or the trade, fact is they needed to come out strong against a team in the midst of the playoff push, and failed to do so.
Allow me to be the first one that lights a spark under Rick Carlisle’s seat.
How Carlisle integrates the new players with the veteran foundation will be interesting to watch. He must allow Butler to play physical and get the ball in his hands, all the while keeping Dirk happy. How he handles the duo of Dampier and Haywood. Rod Beaubois was off limits to teams, what role does he play in the second half?
On paper this seems like a team Rick Carlisle would feel comfortable with. The pieces are in place, it’s up to Carlisle and his staff to produce a winner.
Carlisle said after the game he saw some good things in the loss. He obviously wasn’t looking at the scoreboard.
The Suns come to town tomorrow night at the American Airline Center, and The Smoking Cuban will be there.