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Mavs Succeeding Against Eastern Conference Elite

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The Dallas Mavericks are on a roll right now. They just completed a sweep of a 4-game road trip, two of which were without Dirk Nowitzki, and they are now 15-5 on the year. Unfortunately, in this ultra-competitive Western Conference that only puts them at fifth. In the Eastern Conference, the Mavs would be second in the standings. However, given their recent performances against the East, the Mavs are probably better than any team in that conference.

The Mavs’ victories against the Eastern Conference have been more than impressive. In the last couple of weeks, the Mavs have beaten four of the top six teams in the Eastern Conference. And that’s not even the best part. Every single one of those games was on the road.

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First they took care of Washington in the nations capital. Even with Bradley Beal returning and having an impressive season debut, the Mavs offense was too much for the Wizards. Monta Ellis’ 34 points and Dirk Nowtizki’s late-game heroics despite yet another rolled ankle proved too strong for the up and coming Wizards.

To start the 4-game road trip, the Mavs took on the number 1 seed in the East: the Toronto Raptors. Yeah, I’m surprised too. But Dallas wasn’t fazed by their seeding or their home crowd in Canada as they took care of business against Kyle Lowry and the Raptors. Demar Derozan did go down with an injury in the third quarter of that game, but the win is still impressive as Monta led the way again.

The Mavs went on to defeat the Sixers for their second and final meeting after that 53-point whopping Dallas gave them back at the AAC. While it was only a seven point win, this was a game in which Dirk took the night off and the Mavs balanced attack was able to keep Philadelphia winless at the time (they finally won a game last night).

Then the game of the year was played at the United Center in Chicago. Big Shots. Double Overtime. And most importantly, a Mavs win. You couldn’t have asked for a better game to watch on a Tuesday (S/O to Drake, not ILOVEMAKONNAN). After a ridiculous foul that all MFFL’s were thankful for, a crazy Derrick Rose banked three-point floater, and just too much Monta in the end, the Mavs came out of the Windy City with yet another great win on the road against an elite Eastern Conference team.

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To finish the fantastic road trip, the Mavs, sans Dirk, squared up against Jason Kidd’s Milwaukee Bucks, who have had a surprisingly decent year. While the Mavs looked rusty and exhausted after playing the next day coming off of a 2OT victory, they used the zone defense in the third to spark a 13-0 run to give them the lead. And yet again, Monta Ellis played hero ball and nailed a ridiculous fadeaway at the buzzer after Brandon Knight tied it up with a jumper, which was a deja-vu moment from JR Smith’s game tying shot a week earlier.

The Mavs also beat the Knicks in Dallas, but that was more of a disappointment since they had to go to OT to beat a Knicks team who were playing without Carmelo Anthony. But Tyson Chandler definitely looked like he wanted vengeance against New York as he dropped 17 points and grabbed a phenomenal 25 rebounds.

But the most ironic thing is that the Mavs laid an egg and lost to the Indiana Pacers, who were playing with no starters from last year. And that was in Big-D. But all great teams lose games like that from time to time, and even though that will probably bother me until we beat the Pacers, Mavs fans shouldn’t worry about a fluke loss like that.

This success against the Eastern Conference is a great sign for the Mavs, who continuously show their depth. JJ Barea, Al-Farouq Aminu, Devin Harris, and Brandon Wright have all played well and had highlight moments during this run. And Monta “Have it All’ Ellis really does have it all and is making a very strong case for his first All-Star appearance. With Parsons improving and Dirk being Dirk, the Mavs look like a legitimate contender in this Western Conference, even with all the crazy competition.

However, one major thing that I took away form these games against the East is that the Mavs are finding ways to close out games on the road which is a quality that all championship teams possess. It’s extremely difficult to win close games against elite teams in their house, but Carlisle has proved that he can keep his players poised. There are definitely areas that need improvement such as keeping leads and playing better team defense, but the Mavs look as good as anyone out there right now and could be primed to make a title run. I might be getting too ahead of myself, but there’s no denying that Dallas is playing excellent basketball right now.

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