By Bryan Murphy
It was a tough week for the Dallas Mavericks, to say the least. First, the Mavs fell at home to a red-hot Detroit Pistons squad in a game where they were dominated from start to finish. Then on Friday, former Maverick Roy Tarpley, passed away suddenly. To cap off the week, the Mavs’ Western Conference woes continued in a 120-100 loss to the high-flying Los Angeles Clippers.
The Dallas Mavericks have just one victory in nine games this season against Western Conference teams that would qualify for the postseason if the playoffs were to begin today. That lone victory came last month against a San Antonio squad who sat all five of their starters.
Although that can be an alarming statistic for a team with high expectations in the West, 12- time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki spoke to reporters after the loss to L.A. and knows what his team needs to do to get back on track.
“We’ve just got to keep getting better on both ends of the floor,” Nowitzki said. “We’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
The Mavs’ next five games are all against Western Conference opponents. Only one of those is against a team with a winning record (Memphis Grizzlies) but only one of those are at home. The Mavs will finish up the last two games of this current three game road-trip starting with the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday Night.
The Kings are below .500 with a 16-21 record but are still more than a formidable opponent. It will be the first game of a back-to-back against a Sacramento squad that is coming off a massive 103-84 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Mavs won the only other meeting with the Kings this season, 106-98, in a game in which the Mavs were down by 24 points at one point. That game was played nearly a month before the Rajon Rondo trade so this could be a more favorable match-up for the Mavs this time around.
Tyson Chandler will have his hands full with Kings Center, DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins is a potential all-star this season and rising player in this league averaging 23.9 PPG and 12.3 RPG.
Sacramento Forward Rudy Gay, who was a part of the USA team last summer, was the real pest against the Mavs in the previous meeting. Gay scored 26 points in that game and if the Mavs want to break their two-game losing skid, they’ll have to do a better job at trying to contain him.
The Mavs then have back-to-back games against the Denver Nuggets. The first game on Wednesday in Denver and then will come back home to the AAC to square off with the Nuggets again on Friday. Nuggets Point Guard, Ty Lawson, is the guy Rondo will have to chase around on the defensive end. Lawson averages 10 assists a game which is slightly above Rondo’s 9.9 APG mark. Lawson has also been scorching from behind the arc in his last five games shooting 8-of-14 from three point land in that span.
The Mavs ideally would like to start a new win streak heading into that tough road rematch in Memphis next week and it all begins Tuesday night in Sacramento.
1/13 @Kings 9:00 pm
1/14 @Nuggets 8:00 pm
1/16 vs Nuggets 7:30 pm