With the playoff seedings set, how on God’s green Earth did the Dallas Mavericks finish with a better record than the Houston Rockets?
Last season in Dallas was an interesting one to say the least as it was headlined by Chandler Parsons‘ first year in Dallas coming to an end with a knee surgery and a mid-season December trade for Rajon Rondo that ended in a disaster. The Mavericks finished the season with 50-32 record while being put out of the first round by the Houston Rockets.
The Mavs entered free agency where they once again turned over their roster and brought in eight new players, including three new starters. They lost their leading scorer from the year before and their anchor in the middle. The Mavs were almost starting over once again.
In Houston, things were quite different last year as James Harden put up an MVP like performance of the year (even voted by the players as the MVP of the league). With Kevin McHale at the helm, Houston made their run and finished 2nd place in the esteemed Western Conference with a 56-26 record.
After losing in the Western Conference Finals to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors, Houston entered free agency looking to build upon their successful year and get healthy for this year.
Of the nine players who logged the most minutes last season for the 2nd place Rockets, Houston returned ALL NINE of them this season. In addition to those nine players, they also drafted Montrezl Harrell and added Michael Beasley mid-season, both logged big minutes for Houston this year.
So what happened this season?
Dallas watched Chandler Parsons play half the season on a minute restriction, play about eight weeks of all-star level basketball, and then tear his meniscus to end his season once again. Their highest paid player in Wesley Matthews had his worst shooting season of his career and Deron Williams almost missed 20 games on the season. The center spot next to Dirk has been in complete rotation with Zaza Pachulia and rookie Salah Mejri, in addition to mid-season pickup David Lee off waivers. Oh, and Dirk Nowitzki is 37 years old still fighting through every night.
If I had read the above paragraph before the season, I would have said (along with everyone else) that the Mavs would be keeping that top 7 pick in next year’s draft. No way on earth you could read the above paragraph and say the Mavericks would finish the season as the 6th seed in the West.
A few hours down the road in Texas, Houston had the same recipe cooking as last year. They’re all defensive MVP in James Harden returned looking to build off last season in excellent shape. Dwight Howard came back healthier than normal and only missed 11 games on the season. They brought back their savior in Josh Smith in a trade only to find him riding the bench down the stretch. They half-way traded Donatas Motiejunas only to see it rescinded from Detroit for medical reasons (great start to free agency for him). Oh, and they fired Kevin McHale early in the season. Don’t forget the Ty Lawson pickup!
What I am trying to say is that there is no excuse on the planet for why this exact same Houston roster (no Pablo Prigioni, my bad), who finished 2nd in the West last year, should have finished as the 8th seed in the West with a WORSE RECORD THAN THE DALLAS MAVERICKS.
Maybe to lighten the load on Houston you could talk about how the other teams around them got better? Yeah I guess we could talk about Portland losing ALL FOUR starters around Damian Lillard or Memphis losing Marc Gasol and Mike Conley for the season. So yeah…
Now if Houston goes into Golden State and upsets the champs then I will stand corrected and this post will be irrelevant, but to the looks of things, both Houston and Dallas could see early exits in the playoffs. But this doesn’t keep Dallas fans from loving every bit of “genius” Darryl Morey and his Rockets choking into the 8th seed while the Mavericks are 6th.
For all the shots that Houston likes to throw at Dallas, the fact that this Dallas team finished with a better record than this LOADED Houston team shouldn’t be forgotten.
Houston choked this season, there’s no other way to put it…and Mavericks fans love every bit of it.