Dallas Mavericks: Surviving the Doldrums of the Regular Season

Dallas Mavericks center Boban Marjanovic does his best to help keep the team afloat during a tough stretch of the season.
Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch

By Joel Montgomery

The Mavericks are getting ready to enter the home stretch of the regular season before the All-Star break, with a comfortable gap between them and the teams currently out of the qualifying seeds. Going into the past week on a 4-game winning streak, they looked to keep the momentum going:

vs Los Angeles Clippers (1/19)
Dallas hosted the currently 3rd place Clippers, who had a fully charged Kawhi Leonard in-tow, and he was ready to duel Luka and company in full force.

Kawhi (36 pts, 11 rebs) struggled from long range, but was able to score in bunches from inside and the midrange, not to mention a collection of free throws. Young stud Landry Shamet (18 pts) had a day from the three-point line, and 6th man specialist Lou Williams (18 pts) had some helpful points of his own.

For Dallas, Dončić (36 pts, 10 rebs, 9 asts) was prepared to go toe-to-toe with Leonard, which unfortunately included struggles from beyond the arc. For Luka, struggles from the three-point line this season have not boded well for the Mavs in crunchtime situations. If they wish to make any sort of playoff run, Luka and the rest of the squad will need to be able to make those shots when it matters.

A loss from this game even bigger than the score itself was the devastating injury to Dwight Powell, who is now confirmed to be out for what is likely the rest of the season with an Achilles tear. Powell is a vital part of what makes Dallas’ offense one of the most dynamic in the league, and his talent will surely be missed as the Mavs continue to brave the season.

FINAL: Los Angeles 110 (31-13), Dallas 107 (27-16)

@ Portland Trail Blazers (1/23)
When Portland came ready to play on Thursday night, they stayed for a shootout. Damian Lillard (47 pts, 6 rebs, 8 asts) was able to have his way for basically the duration of the game, and both Carmelo Anthony (16 pts, 11 rebs, 5 asts) and Hassan Whiteside (14 pts, 10 rebs) had double-doubles. Trevor Ariza (21 pts) also showed his mileage as a reliable role player to this day.

Dallas responded with a three-point shooting frenzy, making 22 as a team. Dončić (27 pts, 6 rebs, 9 asts) had his typical good outing, Kristaps Porzingis (20 pts) had his first notable game since his returning from injury, and both Jalen Brunson (17 pts) and Seth Curry (17 pts) had satisfactory performances to hold down the backcourt. In a high scoring affair on both side, the Mavericks came out on top.

FINAL: Dallas 133 (28-16), Portland 125 (19-27)

@ Utah Jazz (1/25)
Over the weekend, the Mavericks had to travel to face the hottest team in the league currently, the Utah Jazz, who have been on such a tear recently (winning 14 of their last 15 games) that has now placed them in a spot where they can legitimately compete for the #1 seed in the Western Conference amongst powerhouses like the Lakers and Clippers. While things looked good for Dallas up to the end of this contest, shortcomings in crunchtime offense once again were their downfall.

For Utah, Donovan Mitchell (25 pts, 8 rebs, 5 asts) proved that even as a still-young star, he’s the real deal who commands respect from defenses in potential clutch moments. Furthermore, reigning Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert (22 pts, 17 rebs, 5 blks) proved his currently running 2-year streak of winning said award is no accident, as he had a clutch block on Mavs PG Delon Wright in the final minute to seal the deal for the Jazz victory.

It was back to three-point shooting woes for Luka (25 pts, 2-10 3PT), as his shooting overall in the final minutes was disappointing. On the contrary, Seth Curry (19 pts) had an efficient night shooting from long range. Kristaps (15 pts, 6-14 FG) struggled mightily from both sides of the floor, getting denied absolutely in the paint and being incapable of putting shots in. The presence of Powell is already starting to be felt to a major degree, showing clearly that Dallas needs to do something about their bigs situation.

FINAL: Utah 112 (32-13), Dallas 107 (28-17)

The Mavs are in the doldrums of the regular season, but they can’t let that slow them down in order to keep a good playoff spot. The team will look to recalibrate its overall shooting so they can get back to starting win streaks.

Upcoming Schedule
1/27 @ Thunder       7:00pm CST
1/28 vs Suns            7:30pm CST
1/31 @ Rockets        7:00pm CST
2/1   vs Hawks          7:30pm CST