The Dallas Mavericks had it all to play for Tuesday night in Staples Center in Los Angeles. They had an opportunity to get back to .500 and to finally shave their shaggy beards. They had an opportunity to catch the Lakers and the Jazz in the loss column and make the race for the West’s last playoff spot even tighter. They had an opportunity to show a national audience that they can actually play well. They had an opportunity to prove that they were a playoff-caliber team.
You’d think they would come up big especially after those huge wins against the Clippers and the Bulls last week. Instead, they laid an egg and lost by 20.
All season long, these Mavs have not shown the ability to come up big when they needed to. Sure, they’ve played a lot of close games against a lot of great teams, but those still ended up as losses. Moral victories don’t count in the standings. Sure, there were injuries, and Dirk did miss the first 27 games of the season. All teams have injuries, and some of them (read: Minnesota) have had it worse than Dallas.
These Mavericks just don’t have enough to compete with the NBA’s elite. They lack offensive firepower, rebounding, good defenders, competent point guards, pretty much everything that a team needs to be competitive in today’s NBA.
What they have is a recovering superstar, aging veterans on the wings, a 37-year old point guard who wasn’t that good to begin with, a shooting guard who started hot but has since regressed to the mean, a young point guard who thinks he’s a starter but is actually a backup, an oft-injured center who hogs the ball, an amnestied ex all-star, a young and underdeveloped big, a bunch of rookies, a brilliant coach, and not much else.
Really, it’s a miracle they stayed in the playoff race for this long, considering that they were at one time 10 games under .500.
They were long shots to make the playoffs before they lost to the Lakers. Now, while they’re still mathematically in the race, they would need a miracle to leapfrog LA and Utah.
All that’s left now is to see whether they can get back to .500 just so they can finally shave, and to determine who among the team’s many rentals are good enough to bring back next year to play alongside Dirk.