The Mavericks fell to the Timberwolves on Sunday night, 136-121. It was a lousy game, in which Dallas didn’t look ready to play. They fell behind early and despite repeated attempts, they were never able to quite get over it. The entire roster, minus Maxi Kleber, JJ Redick, and Tyrell Terry, saw the time at the end of things, but it was clear that the Mavericks didn’t have much of an interest in winning and, therefore, they didn’t. had not done.
Instead of our more traditional format, here we have some thoughts on more than this game but on the season in general.
It’s easy to forget that the Dallas Mavericks started the season 9-14. They were wiped out by COVID-19 and played ugly basketball with players who had nothing to do with the rotation. Knicks fans were giddy with excitement that the first-round pick owed to them could somehow end up in the lottery. All the Mavericks’ hopes of reaching the playoffs in a crowded Western Conference seemed lost.
There is a now infamous tweet sent by SportsCenter’s Twitter account showing a downed Luka Doncic with his head in his hands. It was a snapshot of the Mavericks’ season up to this point. Since then, the Mavericks have not only saved their season, but also found a way to avoid the play-in tournament altogether.
As fans, we live and die in every game. We forget that winning seven out of ten games is quite an impressive feat. Instead, we focus on the fact that these losses came at the hands of the Sacramento Kings and lose sight of the big picture. By all accounts, this regular season has been a success.
Our generational star survived a grueling schedule without a major injury and helped the team climb to No.5 seed. Despite being out of shape and wearing heavy legs for most of the season, Luka has managed to add to his already phenomenal game. He added a reliable midrange jumper and consistently punished opponents at the post.
Luka’s greatness has given fans hope, but it is also the source of our angst. Maverick fans stood by and watched the front office struggle to find a star to pair with Dirk Nowitzki. They saw a championship list destroyed with the promise that upgrades were underway. Instead, the Dallas front office was systematically eliminated in free agency and Dirk never received the kind of support he needed to do another deep run after the season.
We are now in the era of player empowerment. The players have taken their teams hostage and forced them out of town on numerous occasions. It’s almost an annual tradition at this point. Luka’s second contract has yet to be signed. However, the second the ink hits the paper, the clock will start ticking on Mark Cuban and company.
This year’s team is far from a contender. The Mavericks are playing with house money and will use this playoff series to assess how each member of the squad is adjusting to their superstar. If Dallas fans are hoping to avoid hearing Luka’s name appear in trade rumors, the Maverick front office must use the lessons learned from this postseason and use this next offseason to build the type of team around Luka. which they failed to build around Dirk at the end of his career. .
Simply put, the LA Clippers are a better basketball team than the Dallas Mavericks. Some fans believe the Mavericks would have beaten the Clippers if KP had remained healthy in the last playoffs. I am not part of this group. This Mavericks team is not as good as the team we saw in the bubble last year (editor’s note: SPICY TAKE).
This Clipper team, on the other hand, is a year away from the chemistry issues that ultimately cost them a chance to win a championship. The Clippers have the third best odds to win the title, and with good reason. This regular season was irrelevant to them. The second that their season ended at the hands of the Denver Nuggets, the Clippers were eagerly awaiting this very moment. This playoffs is about redemption for them. Expect a hungry and motivated team to make it to the playoffs.
The ugly one
It’s impossible to say if the Mavericks were quietly tanking this game in hopes of drawing a first-round game against the Nuggets or if they were playing their competition again. It was a terrible performance and erased any possibility that the Mavericks would peak as they head into the playoffs. The rest week should help, but it will take more than fresh legs to beat the Clippers four times in seven games.
Here is the post-match podcast, Mavs Moneyball after dark. If you don’t see the integration below “More Mavs Moneyball”, Click here. And if you haven’t already, subscribe by searching for “Mavs Moneyball podcast” in your favorite podcast app.