The Dallas Mavericks sure don’t look like a team 2 years removed from a championship. In the 1 ½ seasons since the Marc Cuban brought the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy back to the Lone Star State, the Mavs have gone a combined 58-58, not including a first round postseason sweep to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Dirk Nowitzki’s patience has begun to grow thin, as the Mavericks seems to have no other intention other than to clear cap space for the chance at the next max level free agent.
As for this season, their playoff chances are slim to Lakers. According their efficiencies, they rank as an average offense and a bottom 10 defense. Much of their roster has seen great turnover in their past two seasons, which has made for a hodgepodge collection of players that don’t quite fit within a successful team structure.
Leading scorer, OJ Mayo, is having a career year shooting the rock. He’s averaging 18 points per game in 36 minutes on very good shooting numbers for a high volume guard (.540 eFG% and .585 TS%). Darren Collison has also had a good year after coming over with Dahntay Jones from Indiana. He averages 12.8 points and 5.3 assists in 31.1 minutes a game. However, as usual, the offense runs through the talented 7 foot German. Dirk is not quite playing like the MVP candidate he was two years ago, but he still remains a very tough defensive cover.
The trio of Elton Brand, Brandon Wright and Bernard James are very talented post defenders. Brand is a crafty veteran that know all the tricks of the trade. Wright uses his length and athleticism to thwart bigs and James is an older undersized rookie that provides energy and hustle.
This year’s Hawks roster was thrown together in a similar fashion to the Mavs but the Hawks have generally been more consistently good. As usual, it will be up to Jeff Teague and Devin Harris to control the pace and for Josh Smith and Al Horford to use their quickness in the post to get position and finish post ups. Game are always very difficult for this Hawks team in Texas for some reason, so hopefully tonight we can break the streak.