Dallas Mavericks: Going into the Next Phase of the Season

Dennis Smith Jr. and the Dallas Mavericks are dealing with the rumor mill these days.
Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch

By Joel Montgomery

With the NBA All-Star Weekend right around the corner, the Mavericks are fighting to stay in the playoff race while also fighting off rumors of potential roster changes. With stories and speculation continuing to swirl around the team and second year 1st-round pick Dennis Smith Jr, a lot is up in the air going into the next phase of the season. Here’s a look at the games that took place this past week.

vs San Antonio Spurs (1/16)
Dallas’ Wednesday night contest against their in-state rival San Antonio marked a first time feat for the season, but not a positive one. After starting the game outscoring the Spurs 20-4, the Mavericks ended up blowing said lead in the second half and losing the game. It’s the biggest comeback defeat they’ve faced so far this year, and being at home against a division rival made it tougher. Marco Belinelli (17 pts) led the bench as they lent a huge helping hand to San Antonio’s starting unit. Rudy Gay (14 pts) and DeMar DeRozan (14 pts, 9 asts) came out the gate in the second half with more intensity that helped them to their win.
Luka Doncic (25 pts, 8 rebs, 8 asts) did his usual thing with another near-triple-double. It was his support that struggled, as the Dallas’ other offensive pieces failed to get going to maintain the early lead. The young team will have to continue to improve in coming together to close out games.
FINAL: San Antonio 105 (26-20), Dallas 101 (20-24)
@ Indiana Pacers (1/19) 
The Mavericks visited a Pacers team that was well prepared, and they came out with an offensive barrage that Dallas could not contain. The Mavs ran into yet another team with a solid bench lineup, as Tyreke Evans (19 pts) and Domantas Sabonis (16 pts, 11 rebs) came in with the 2nd team and did damage. Indiana has transitioned out of the Paul George era more gracefully than anyone ever expected, and they’ll be hopeful to keep developing as the playoffs approach.
Harrison Barnes (20 pts) bounced back in this game, but it was Luka’s (8 pts, 6 asts) turn to struggle as his shot couldn’t fall all night. While Dallas got some pretty good point distribution across the board, it obviously wasn’t close to enough to keep up with a Pacers team firing from all cylinders.
FINAL: Indiana 111 (30-15), Dallas (20-25) 
If the Mavericks want to stay in the playoff hunt, they’ll need to start turning things around and pulling out wins against the tough playoff teams that litter their schedule. That’s just how things are in the West, and Dallas will have to continue the fight as Dennis Smith (“illness”) continues to sit with no clear answers on what’s imminent. 
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central 
1/21 @ Bucks          1:00 p.m.
1/22 vs Clippers     7:30 p.m.
1/25 vs Pistons       7:30 p.m.
1/27 vs Raptors      6:00 p.m.