By Bryan Murphy
It was either going to be a hard-fought, massive win, or it was going to be a demoralizing loss and gut wrenching end to the week for the Dallas Mavericks.
The week was capped off by the tough loss on Sunday to the New Orleans Pelicans on the road. The Mavs were up by one point with less than 13 seconds to play but a bad inbound pass by Rajon Rondo and clutch free throws by Anthony Davis propelled the Pelicans victory. The Mavs went 2-2 this week, winning the first two and losing the last two games.
The Mavs now have to regroup after two consecutive losses and play a pair of back-to-backs this week. On the first night of the first back-to-back, the Mavericks will host the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday. The Mavs defeated the Grizzlies just last week, 103-95. The game could have gone either way despite the Mavs being clobbered in the paint, 58-26.
Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Mike Conley all played as expected but the lack of the Grizzlies bench production was a key to the Mavs victory. That will be a big key to victory in the rematch game against Memphis this week with the savvy 6th man, Jeff Green, at the Grizzlies’ disposal.
On the second night of the first back-to-back, the Mavs have to travel down south to Houston and play the 31-14 Rockets. Led by MVP candidate James Harden, the Mavs and company will have their hands more than full trying to contain the guy with arguably the most complete beard in the NBA.
Harden leads the NBA in scoring, averaging 27.6 PPG, leads the NBA in 30-point games (20), and leads the NBA in free throw attempts and free throws made this season. You would think bigger guys like Blake Griffin or LeBron James would be leading in that category but it’s the 6’5” shooting guard who is masterful at getting to the line.
That is what really scares me about him. He can shoot from anywhere and create a shot from anywhere. Not to mention, he can also find the open man, averaging nearly 7 APG.
In the lone previous meeting with the Rockets this season, the Mavs lost a tight one, 95-92. That game isn’t indicative of what could happen this time around. Last time these teams met, Dwight Howard did not play and Rondo wasn’t a Maverick yet.
The Mavs then travel down to South Beach to face the Miami Heat. In that game, my ‘player- to-watch’ isn’t Chris Bosh, or even Dwayne Wade who is having an excellent season. It’s Hassan Whiteside.
On Sunday’s win against the Chicago Bulls, Whiteside had a triple-double. 14 points, 13 rebounds, 6-for-10 from the field, and a whopping 12 blocks was his stat line. He mentioned after the game to reporters, “I’m really just trying to get my NBA 2k rating up”, which received lots of laughs from people around the NBA.
The Mavs then cap the week off with the second night of the second back-to-back against the 15-32 Orlando Magic. The Magic are a team with veteran players well past their prime, and young players who have yet to reach their potential.
Those young guys include Tobias Harris, Victor Oladipo, and Nikola Vucevic. Oladipo is a very skilled, all around player who was even compared to Dwayne Wade coming into his rookie season. Vucevic is an absolute monster on the boards averaging over 11 RPG and nearly 20 ppg.
Tyson Chandler, Dwight Powell, and the other Mavs big men should be ready for him, considering they will have already squared off against two of the best Centers in the NBA in Dwight Howard and Mac Gasol this week.
The Mavs slipped down to 6th place in the West with just one loss to the Pelicans on Sunday. If they want to stay afloat in the madness that is the Western Conference playoff picture, they will need to get some of that Memphis mojo they has last week and bring into this week, starting Tuesday night.
1/27 vs Grizzlies 7:30 pm
1/28 @Rockets 7:00 pm
1/30 @Heat 7:00 pm
1/31 @Magic 6:00 pm