Mavs Need to Make Hay on Big Home Stand
The Mavericks aren’t about to apologize for beating a less-than-full-strength Thunder team in Oklahoma City last night. On the contrary; they should take a bow.
You want to make the playoffs? You beat the teams you should beat, and you show no mercy to those that are shorthanded. But the bottom line is – the Mavs played well, and that’s what is most important about this win.
Oklahoma City played without three of their usual starters- Russell Westbrook, Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha. Kevin Durant scored 30 points, his 26th straight game of 25-or-more.
But Dallas was balanced. Dirk Nowitzki had 17 points while Jose Calderon chipped in 16. The Mavs shot 53.3 percent from the field, including 13-of-24 from three-point range. Dallas became only the third Western Conference team to win this season in Oklahoma City, along with Portland and the LA Clippers.
It was the Thunder’s worst loss of the season, and the Mavericks did it without their starters logging significant minutes. Dallas had lost seven in a row to the Thunder, including being swept in the 2012 playoffs.
Dallas has now won two-straight and sets up a pivotal eight-game home stand, beginning tonight when the Mavs host the Celtics. This isn’t the most optimal time for a long home stand; it’s hard to keep focus throughout one. Trust me – as this home stand goes on, games will be tougher to win. They can’t just show up and expect to win just because they are at home.
But it is a tremendous opportunity as well. The first three games are winnable (Celtics, Timberwolves, Nuggets) and if the Mavs can grind out three W’s in them, they will put themselves in great shape. The Nets, Thunder and Clippers form the middle of the home stand, three tough games that will test the Mavs’ mettle. Dallas will close out this stretch with the Kings and Warriors. The Kings will be a must-win if this team wants to give itself a chance for a decent playoff seed. And if they win that one vs. Sacramento, that April 1 game vs. Golden State will be anything but an April Fool’s joke.
Dallas currently sits in seventh place in the West, one-half game behind Golden State, and only one-and-a-half games ahead of ninth place Phoenix.
This just in – the standings are tight.
There are 15 games remaining in the season, more than half of which come in this home stand that begins tonight. Dallas is 21-10 at home so far this season. If the Mavs want to not only make the playoffs, but have a fighting chance to win an opening round series, winning seven or eight of their remaining 10 games at American Airlines Center is vital.
That all begins tonight vs. the Celtics. How’s that for possible karma? Let’s schedule the one team in the league with a shamrock as part of its logo on St. Patrick’s Day. So if you must wear green tonight, make sure it’s Mavs’ 1980’s kelly green. And it includes a logo with a big M and a cowboy hat.
Beating the teams you are supposed to beat is what playoff teams do. It’s time for the Mavs to make it three-straight and get this home stand off on the right foot.