Dallas Mavericks: Without Parsons Out, Mavs Need to go Back to Basics
By Jesse Carr
With 12 games left in the regular season and Chandler Parsons out, the Dallas Mavericks will have to go back to the basics in order to make the playoffs.
Rick Carlisle has always been a veterans coach. In 2011, he was able to bring together a squad of aging stars and lead the Dallas Mavericks on one of the most astonishing championship runs the NBA has ever seen. Five years later, Carlisle faces an even more challenging task than he faced in 2011.
The whistle has blown, the train is about to leave the station, and every other Maverick needs to hop on board the Dirk Express.
Despite being 37, Dirk Nowitzki is playing some of the best basketball that Dallas has ever seen. On Sunday, he became just the 4th player in NBA history to score 40 points at the age of 37. In order for the Mavericks to close out and still make the playoffs, Dallas will have to depend on Nowitzki, but not too much.
Since the all-star, break Nowitzki is averaging 22 points in 32 minutes while shooting 51 percent from the field. With the exception of three-tenths of a point in shooting percentage, Nowitzki has improved in every single statistical category in comparison to last season.
Although his endurance over the next 12 games could be a concern, Dirk doesn’t look as if he’s about to slow down or run out of energy – moral of the story, give the ball to Dirk.
While losing Chandler Parsons is a huge blow to the Mavericks (18.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game), the bench for Dallas has players capable of carrying them through, the question is: Can Carlisle find the right rotation?
Deron Williams has proven time and again that if he can remain healthy that he is one of the premier point guards in the league, both in scoring/passing and in crunch time performance. However, the Mavericks have been plagued with a very unreliable bench when it comes to defense and shooting.
In the post, David Lee has provided the Mavericks with a much needed spark and very consistent performances, but the Mavericks still lack a big man defensive presence or a center that is the “full package.” Lee offers energy and offense, Pachulia offers rebounding and some defensive presence but no offense, Mejri and Powell offer an immature mixture of both, but making the playoffs and even winning a playoff game will be hard without a true center comparable to DeAndre Jordan or Tyson Chandler.
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The duo of Dirk and Deron almost has a Jason Kidd and Dirk feel, but their supporting cast might not be strong enough. While the Mavericks need help on offense from Charlie Villanueva and Devon Harris, the biggest key to Mavericks success through the next three weeks will be Wesley Matthews – the Mavericks highest paid player.
As of late, Matthews has been under performing in comparison to his max contract, however, it isn’t too late for him to redeem himself. The only problem? Only Matthews can determine that for himself. Chances are, no change in rotation or offensive scheme will change whether or not he can score.
Ultimately the Mavericks’ season will be determined by how creative Carlisle can be and how much energy he is able to get his players to exert.
So what should Carlisle do? Even though Raymond Felton has been playing key minutes for the Mavericks, I think it’s time for Carlisle to give the reigns back to JJ Barea. Although Barea hasn’t been playing his best basketball, he is more seasoned and more familiar with not only Carlisle’s system, but playing with Dirk.
Next: 3 Positives from Parsons Injury
Basketball has proven time and time again that it isn’t about who has the best team over all, but who has the best team that night. Dallas has failed to capitalize this season, but with a little redirection and focus, the Mavericks might just be able to survive the next few weeks and maybe win a couple of playoff games.