Prior to beating the Wizards at home on Tuesday, the defending NBA Champions had lost to three sub-.500 teams, Phoenix, Sacramento and Golden State, one after the other after the other. Poor defense, tired knees and a lackluster, hangover season after taking the Larry O’brien trophy home are to blame. The mental absence of last season’s Sixth Man, Lamar Odom, has caused teammates as well as Coach Rick Carlisle, to call him out. It’s no secret he misses Los Angeles, but it was his trade demand that had him shipped to Dallas. Now he plays for a team that outed his former team last season on their way to a championship. You think he has no hard feelings? If the Mavericks want to make any noise in the very deep Western Conference this season, they will need Odom to regain some of the swagger he left in Los Angeles. He is a terrific player, however, this season his on-court body language reads “Why did I demand that trade?” If he quits whining and realizes the combination of he and Dirk can be lethal, then they may become lethal.
It’ll take some time, and the Mavericks have yet to overcome the absence Tyson Chandler’s departure left in the middle of their defense. They have tried to minimize the blow with a combination of Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi, however that has proved more difficult than expected.
Jason Kidd isn’t getting any younger, Jason Terry’s mouth isn’t about to close (However, both of those contracts are up at the end season). This team may be headed for self destruction. However, defeating Washington, the second worst team in the NBA, on Tuesday marks to first step to bouncing back. Now they head into a game tonight against Charlotte, the worst team in the NBA before they begin an extremely tough stretch of games to end the month of March. Saturday night they face San Antonio at home. The following week sees them travel to Denver, then face the Lakers at home, then fly to San Antonio and Houston.
Can they begin to bounce back? Will they start to show that flare we had become accustomed to seeing last season? Will Dirk Nowitzki lead this team into a first round home court series, or will they stumble to the finish line and perhaps inhabit either the 7 or 8 seed? Only time will tell, however tonight vs. the Bobcats, Dallas will be smelling some good ol’ home cookin’. Every win is crucial at this juncture with only 22 games remaining in the season.