I can remember, when I was growing up, my mom telling me that if I could not say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Well, following that rule, what can I possibly say after last night’s 99-92 loss to the Warriors? About a week ago, coach Rick Carlisle said that he wanted to get the team into a regular rotation to prepare the team for the playoffs. Shawn Marion was inserted into the starting lineup at small forward. Last night Carlisle changed things up, re-inserting DeShawn Stevenson into the starting lineup.
Perhaps Carlisle thought that this might inject some life into a stagnant, inconsistent offense. If so, then this experiment was a colossal failure. The Mavs shot a paltry 41.1% from the field and only while hitting only 13-20 from the charity stripe. Unacceptable. Stevenson played 16 minutes and contributed a whopping 3 points.
Maybe Carlisle thought that Stevenson would be able to slow down Monta Ellis. If that is the case, then this experiment still failed. Ellis torched the Mavs for 32 points while adding 5 assists. No one was able to slow Ellis down, although the Mavs tried several. Even while playing, and shooting poorly, the Mavs were in front at the half. But once again the team showed no signs of life when coming out of the locker room.
This tells me that this is a tired team. They simply do not have the energy necessary to play 48 full minutes. And the schedule maker has done this veteran (i.e. old) team any favors with their longest road trip of the year, with several back-to-back games, for the end of the season. Dirk Nowitzki played 35 minutes, going 5-16 and adding only 16 points, well below his season average. Jason Kidd added 3 points in 29 minutes.
Shawn Marion led the team with 21 points and 8 rebounds coming off the bench. Jason Terry 17 points and J.J. Barea added 13 points and 11 assists. Barea is starting to put up respectable numbers on a nightly basis, providing some important production from the point. It was interesting that Carlisle chose not to play Brendan Haywood or Brian Cardinal. Haywood has been used to give Tyson Chandler a rest and has played some quality minutes. Instead Ian Mahinmi played 12 minutes and contributing two points and two rebounds, hardly big numbers.
I would have rather seen Nowitzki and Kidd given the night off. There is no doubt that Nowitzki’s knees could use the rest as could Jason Kidd. They need these veterans ready for the playoffs, not the Warriors. Instead they played and played poorly. This is a team in need of a boost. The momentum is gone. Concern is beginning to grow as we have seen this pattern before. Many, many times before. The Mavs need to respond with a good performance tonight in Portland.
They need to send a message as the Trailblazers could be their first round opponent. They need to play hard, execute, and hit the open shots. They need to be aggressive and finish this trip on a positive note. The Mavs need to beat a playoff team and demonstrate that they are not going to go quietly into the night. Carlisle needs to decide who is going to start and stick to it.
Sadly, there is not a lot of reason for optimism in Big D right now. The team’s recent playoff woes, coupled with subpar performances, is leaving most fans expecting the worst come playoff time. I am afraid that I am tempted to join those fans. Lets hope that tonight the Mavs give me a reason not to.