Third Quarter Woes For Mavs
What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. While the Mavericks are off to a 3-2 start with their two losses on the road in notoriously difficult San Antonio and Portland, and at times have shown themselves to be the explosive offensive powerhouse everyone expects them to be, a strange pall has fallen over them. Their inability to perform in the third quarter of games has moved from just a cute little anomaly to something which appears to be much more serious.
It should be noted that last season the Mavericks had these issues as well. The third quarter was the only one in which the Mavericks were outscored. But through five games (and its admittedly a small sample to work from) it has metastasized into something much more severe. The Mavericks have been outscored an average of 34-23 (including 35-18 last night in a 108-87 loss in Portland). The smallest margin in any game is the 29-24 margin in a win vs. Utah (which was on the heels of them building a 30 point lead). They have been outshot 53.8 percent to 40.2. From three-point land their opponents are a robust 20 of 40, while they struggle to shoot 3 of 25.
Rick Carlisle took the bullet following the Portland loss saying he didn’t have the Mavericks ready to play. This is why players will play for him. He took the heat for them, but they know it’s not true, and they know it’s all on them to solve the problem. If the Mavericks weren’t ready, they wouldn’t have led at halftime in all five games. And when the third quarter rolls around, players know that teams playing from behind are going to come at them a lot harder, so they need to ramp up their intensity as well. Sure the coach can remind them (and he most certainly has), but the players are the only ones who truly take matters into their hands and end this scourge.
So how do they solve this? Does Carlisle change out the lineup entirely? That would seem to be crazy to take the firepower that provides the lead and put them on the bench. Halftime normally consists of the players getting to the room, having some video available for them to look at so they make necessary corrections, and before you know it you’re back to play. Maybe they just need to get out of the locker room faster and take a minute or two more to warm up. At the start of the game, they might be out there for 16-18 minutes warming up. At halftime they may have as little as five (hey, we’re just spitballing here like the rest of you are).
In any case, an attitude adjustment is needed and it’s needed quickly. Utah would love nothing more than to return the favor from last week, and they’re coming off a huge win over Cleveland. Both of their wins this season (Phoenix and Cleveland) have come vs. teams who have come to Salt Lake City on the second night of a back to back. That’s how the Mavericks enter tonight’s game. They’ve beaten Utah six straight games, but unless their third quarter dumpster fires are doused, that streak is in serious jeopardy.