Dallas Mavericks: Time to Take Advantage

Dallas Mavericks C Zaza Pachulia makes his first return to Milwaukee since leaving the team on Friday night. Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch
Mavericks C Zaza Pachulia makes his return to Milwaukee since leaving the team on Friday.
Photo Courtesy: Michael Kolch

By Bryan Murphy

The Dallas Mavericks haven’t gotten off to the best of starts here in 2016. After winning four straight games, including a massive win against a talented Chicago Bulls squad and handing the Steph Curry-less Warriors its second loss of the season in blowout fashion, the Mavs have dropped two straight. The offense for Dallas just hasn’t been there in those two losses, shooting below 40 percent and also getting out-rebounded 103-73 in that span.

“We couldn’t hit a bull in the ass with a bass fiddle,” coach Rick Carlisle said after the New Year’s Day loss to Miami. Typical Carlisle statement right there.

The injury bug has bitten the Mavericks at the point guard position once again with Devin Harris and Deron Williams. Harris exited the game early against Miami and didn’t suit up for the New Orleans loss. Williams has missed four straight and then came off of the bench against Miami and New Orleans with J.J. Barea filling in as the starter in all six of those games. Williams had to leave the game Saturday night with hamstring tightness, the injury that he has been battling with since the preseason.

With those questions at the point guard position lingering for Dallas, the Mavs now have a full slate of games. Luckily for them, all four games this week are against below .500 opponents.

Rajon Rondo and the Sacramento Kings come to town to begin the week Tuesday night in a game that the Mavs will really want to win for two reasons. The first reason being it will be Rondo’s first game back at the American Airlines Center since his brief stint with the Mavs last season that went sour. The second reason being that this 13-20 Kings team annihilated Dallas in their lone meeting between these two teams earlier this season. DeMarcus Cousins was an absolute monster in that game, putting in 31 points while grabbing nine boards and tallying six assists. Rondo’s triple-double capability won’t be what beats them if the Kings win, it will be Cousins. Also, the Kings are a team that are tough to figure out. In the past two weeks, Sacramento has lost to Minnesota, Washington and even Philadelphia but have snagged wins against Houston, Toronto and Indiana.

The Mavs then look to avenge its most previous loss when they meet with the Pelicans for the fourth and final time this season. The key to this game is easier sad than done: contain the unstoppable force that is Anthony Davis. The 22-year-old superstar went off in the previous meeting for 31 points and 14 rebounds. Forcing streaky shooters like Eric Gordon, Norris Cole or Ryan Anderson to beat you is a better option than Davis going off again.

Dallas then heads up north to face two teams with poor records that don’t tell the entire story. First, the Mavs face the Bucks, who they beat just last week. In the 103-93 victory, the Bucks’ starting lineup combined for just 48 points on 39 percent shooting with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greg Monroe each especially having subpar outings.

Zaza Pachulia makes his return to the BMO Harris Bradley Center for the first time since sporting a Bucks uniform the previous two seasons.

The week is then capped off in Minnesota against the 12-22 Timberwolves. The Timberwolves are loaded with talent but the thing is that it is young talent. Immensely young talent. Two 20-year-olds are the team’s two best players. Just let that sink in. Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns are both budding superstars in this league but just aren’t there yet. Wiggins was the first pick in the 2014 draft out of Kansas while Towns was the first pick in the 2015 draft out of Kentucky. Other young players like Ricky Rubio, Shabazz Muhammad, Gorgui Dieng ands Zach Levine are poised to be contributors for years to come but at this point are playing for just another lottery pick.

Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
1/5   vs. Kings              7:30 pm
1/6   @Pelicans           7:00 pm
1/8   @Bucks               7:00 pm
1/10 @Timberwolves   2:30 pm