By Bryan Murphy
The Dallas Mavericks headed into the All-Star weekend on a bit of a sour note, losing four of its last five games including a stinging 121-119 loss in overtime to the red-hot Utah Jazz. Nonetheless, Dallas is still in much better shape right now than what most analysts and fans had predicted before the season. The Mavericks’ 29-26 record is surprisingly good enough for sixth place in the Western Conference and is just three games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for fifth.
The West hasn’t been exactly the powerhouse conference that it has been the past decade. Yes, the three best teams record wise in the NBA hail in the West in the Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder. But, the depth of serious contending teams from seeds 1-8 hasn’t been there. Portland and Utah own the seven and eight seeds with each team having a .500 record while the struggling Houston Rockets are just barely out of the playoff picture with a 27-28 record. Normally in the past, a .500 record doesn’t even have you smelling the playoffs in the West.
The Second Half of the Season
The Mavericks will need to continue to just stay afloat in the second half of the season. Dallas leads the NBA in games played thus far with 55 and a whopping 29 of those have come on the road. That also included 13 strenuous back-to-backs for a unit that is considered “old” for NBA standards. The fact that the Mavs will be treated to some much needed home cooking with nine of the next 11 games in the confines of the American Airlines Center is huge.
Chandler Parsons finally finding his stride and bouncing back from last season’s knee injury has been a major positive. Parsons is second, only to Dirk, in scoring for the Mavs in the month of February while also logging over 33 minutes per game and shooting over 45 percent from behind the arc. According to Parson’s Instagram, he has used this long mid-season break by taking a trip to Los Cabos, Baja California. You could very well see a rejuvenated and recharged Parsons on the basketball court the rest of the season and the Mavs could really use that.
“We need this break,” said coach Rick Carlisle. “We’ve played, I think, more games than anybody in the whole league. We’ve got to come back refreshed and ready to jump back on another run.”
With the trade deadline looming on Thursday, don’t expect the Mavericks to be swinging for the fences like they did last season with the Rajon Rondo trade. We all unfortunately remember how that saga turned out and they don’t necessarily contain the assets or the desire to go after the big-time names being thrown around the trade rumors such as Dwight Howard and Al Horford. If they make any trades, it’ll have be a sweetheart deal in their favor.
Seven of the next eight games following the All-Star break are against teams with a losing record. The first game back will be Friday night in Orlando against the struggling Magic who have been wheeling and dealing before the trade deadline. The Magic traded 23-year old Tobias Harris on Tuesday to the Detroit Pistons for Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova. Orlando’s fire sail doesn’t appear to be over yet as they are also publicly shopping veteran Channing Frye as well.
Who knows how the young talent on this team such as Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic and 2016 Slam Dunk Runner-up Aaron Gordon will react on the court seeing as this will be their first game back from the All-Star break also.
The weekend will then be closed out at home against the worst team in the NBA, the Philadelphia 76ers. There isn’t much to say about this one. The Mavericks have to come away with a win; something that almost didn’t happen the only other time these two teams faced earlier on Nov 16. Parsons was one of the few bright spots for Dallas in that 92-86 victory scoring 20 points in just 21 minutes. At the time, it was his best performance of the season coming back from injury. Expect a more balanced team effort and an easy blowout win to begin the six-game home stand.
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
2/19 @Magic 6:00 pm
2/21 vs 76ers 6:oo pm