By Bryan Murphy
The Dallas Mavericks ended the month of January on a positive note, although 2016 hasn’t been all that generous to the Mavs thus far. Dallas finished the month with a mediocre record of 9-9 after beating a disappointing Phoenix Suns team at home Sunday night, 91-78. A quick note here, after last night’s game the Phoenix Suns have reportedly dismissed coach Jeff Hornacek.
Chandler Parsons has really found his stride in January, averaging 16 PPG, well above his season average of 12. Nearly every other statistic for Parsons has risen this past month as well including rebounds, assists, free throw percentage and shot a whopping 45 percent from behind the arc as well. His outstanding play will need to continue for February as well, especially this week. All four games looming on the schedule for Dallas are all against teams with winning records and all four of those teams have also beaten Dallas at least once already this season.
The Mavs travel to Atlanta to take on All-Star Paul Milsap and the Atlanta Hawks for the only time this season. Dallas appears to be catching Atlanta at the right time. The Hawks have lost three games in a row and have failed to score more than 92 points in a game in that span. The Hawks most recently were dismantled by the Miami Heat, 105-87 and nearly every Hawks player struggled. Sharp shooter Kyle Korver in particular had a night he would rather forget. Korver was held scoreless on 0-of-6 shooting and was held without a three point field goal for just the sixth time this season. Milsap is the main go-to guy on this unit full of talent, though. The big man can score in a variety of ways in the post, from the mid-range and has even developed a decent three-point shot as well.
Speaking of the Miami Heat, they’ll be visiting the AAC next. Dallas will look to turn down the Heat and its four game winning streak heading into this week. Dallas will also look to avenge the embarrassing loss that was suffered to Miami on New Year’s Day. In that game, it wasn’t All-Stars Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade that destroyed the Mavs. It was Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside torched Dallas for 25 points and 19 rebounds in the 106-82 clobbering. Luckily for the Mavs, Whiteside has been sidelined the past four games with a knee injury and there is a chance that he will be out for the game this week in Dallas.
The Mavs then have the pleasure of hosting the 39-8 San Antonio Spurs. Just like the Heat, the Spurs will have two players represented in Toronto for the All-Star game in Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Although Leonard is much deserved to make his first All-Star appearance, many people believe Aldridge was not. Aldridge has been a five time All-Star with the Portland Trail Blazers and is a special talent in the NBA, but current Trail Blazer Damian Lillard should have received the nod instead. Aldridge is averaging just under 16 PPG whereas Lillard is putting up 24 PPG and 7 assists. Some believe Nowitzki was also more deserving. Nowiztki is the leader of a highly competitive team in the Western Conference averaging almost 18 PPG and is sixth on the all-time scoring list. How can you deny him the bid?
Dallas then caps off the week on the road in Memphis to face the Grizzlies. The Grizz currently sit just above the Mavs in the standings at 28-20. Although the Grizzlies won’t have any all-stars headed to Toronto, this team is loaded with all-star caliber players in Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. Even though there is plenty of basketball to be played until the playoffs, this game is still pretty massive with standings seeding implications. If you’re Dallas, you obviously want to make the playoffs but you also don’t want to be stuck with the 6-8 seed and playing either Golden State, San Antonio or Oklahoma City in the first round.
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
2/1 @Hawks 7:00 pm
2/3 vs Heat 7:30 pm
2/5 vs Spurs 8:30 pm
2/6 @ Grizzlies 7:00 pm