Mavs Playoff Watch: Week 10 (12/19-12/25)

Week 10 standings, game recaps, Western Conference power rankings, and team stats summary.

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The Dallas Mavericks have concluded their brutal 4 game road stretch this week and per usual for the Mavs on the road this season they lost all 4.  That now puts the Mavericks road record at 2-14, while at home this season they are an impressive 13-3.  The Mavericks are now 3-7 in their last 10 games and have lost 6 games in a row.

Dennis Smith Jr did not participate in any games this week but, as expected, Luka Doncic was a bright spot once again.  Luka averaged 24 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists across 3 tough Western Conference road games this week.  He handled most of the point guard duties in each game while also leading the team in scoring and making clutch play after clutch play.  Unfortunately, Luka’s heroics were not enough to earn the Mavs a victory.  They may have lost all 3 games this week, but did so by a total of 11 points combined.  Every week Luka Doncic is adding to his highlight reel and reputation as a big time shot taker and shot maker.  This week he proved that until the clock strikes 0, the Dallas Mavericks are never out of a game.

I hate to have to bring it up but Dirk Nowitzki did not look good at all this week in the two games that he played.  In his 6 minutes against the LA Clippers he was 0-1 and -9 in the box score.  Then in his 12 minutes played in Golden State against the Warriors he was -12 in the box score with 3 points.  To be fair, I don’t think Rick Carlisle is doing Dirk any favors by putting him out there with Dwight Powell and absolutely no rim protection.  If Dirk Nowitzki is still an elite shooter and effective offensive weapon that Rick wants to deploy, he needs to do so with some type of rim protection on the floor.  With Dirk and Powell together it just feels like layup lines and spot up threes for whoever the opponent is.  I would like to see Dirk in a lineup with Maxi Kleber, Dennis Smith Jr, Dorian Finney-Smith, and JJ Barea.  I am not ready to lose Dirk but if he stays in the role he was in this week I don’t see how the team can be effective.

Standings

And just like that the Rockets are back on top of the Southwest Division.  Even though Chris Paul is once again on the bench with an injury, James Harden is continuing his MVP caliber play, putting up historic numbers almost every night.

The Mavs are 4th in the division and sit 2.5 games back from the leading Houston Rockets.  The Mavericks had an identical record as the Rockets just a week ago.  That goes to show you how volatile the Western Conference and Southwest Division standings are.  One or two bad weeks or great weeks can have a drastic impact on the perception of your overall performance.  One week you are out of the playoffs and trade rumors are swirling and the next week you are a 7 seed and thinking you can climb higher.  The Dallas Mavericks had a bad week this week, another bad week after this could put you down to the bottom of the West, excluding the Suns, obviously.

Southwest Division W L W/L% GB
Houston Rockets (7) 18 15 0.545
San Antonio Spurs (9) 18 16 0.529 0.5
Memphis Grizzlies (10) 17 16 0.515 1
Dallas Mavericks (12)  15 17 0.469 2.5
New Orleans Pelicans (14) 15 19 0.441 3.5

Although they are currently 12th in the conference, the Dallas Mavericks are just 4 games back from hosting a playoff series.  The 6 game losing streak and place int he standings seem grim, but one or two good weeks in a row and we could be back in the thick of things in the West.

Western Conference W L W/L% GB
Denver Nuggets (1) 21 10 0.677
Golden State Warriors (2) 23 12 0.657
Oklahoma City Thunder (3) 21 12 0.636 1
Los Angeles Lakers (4) 20 14 0.588 2.5
Los Angeles Clippers (5) 19 14 0.576 3
Portland Trail Blazers (6) 19 15 0.559 3.5
Sacramento Kings (7) 18 15 0.545 4
Houston Rockets (7) 18 15 0.545 4
San Antonio Spurs (9) 18 16 0.529 4.5
Memphis Grizzlies (10) 17 16 0.515 5
Utah Jazz (11) 17 18 0.486 6
Dallas Mavericks (12)  15 17 0.469 6.5
Minnesota Timberwolves (13) 15 18 0.455 7
New Orleans Pelicans (14) 15 19 0.441 7.5
Phoenix Suns (15) 8 26 0.235 14.5

Game Recaps

At LA Clippers – Loss 125-121:  This is a game that I am sure both sides were looking forward to.  The last time they met, on Dec 2, there were broken teeth, ejections, fines, and a game winning block by Dennis Smith Jr on Tobias Harris.  The re-match did not disappoint, it was a close, hard-fought game by both teams.  In the end the Mavs did not get the win but Luka Doncic put together a pretty impressive highlight reel with his game-high 32 points along with 4 rebounds and 5 assists. DeAndre beasted in his first time playing his former team in LA, throwing down 11 points and 22 rebounds in 33 minutes.  JJ Barea also played well, coming off the bench with 19 points and 8 assists in 27 minutes.  For the Clippers it was Danilo Gallinari with 32 points on 11-16 shooting and Lou Williams who added 28 points and 8 assists off the bench that made the biggest impact.  Gallinari is a super efficient offensive force and once Lou Williams gets hot you can pretty much forget about stopping him.

 

At Golden State Warriors – Loss 120-116:  This was the first night of a back-to-back for the Mavericks and you knew that the Warriors were going to want redemption from their loss in the first matchup between these two teams on November 17 where the Mavericks won 112-109.  Last time the Mavs were fortunate enough for Stephen Curry and Draymond Green to be spectators, but this time around they were facing a fully loaded Golden State team.  Both teams shot about 46% from the field and 35% from 3-point range but the real difference of the game came from the free-throw line where the Mavs shot 64% (18-28) and the Warriors shot 94% (15-16).  In such a close game, 10 misses from the free-throw line is just devastating.  It shows that the Mavs played well, they did what it takes to beat the Warriors on their home floor but they just let it slip away.  It was a close game throughout the first 3 quarters then the Warriors stretched their lead to 16 with 7:36 left in the game.  The Mavs had one more rally left in them cutting it to a 1 points game with 15 seconds left, but then KD walked in to a wide open 3 off a screen and that was all she wrote.  Wes Matthews was on fire in this game, ending with 25 points, 4 assists, and 7 made 3’s.  The Mavericks will see the Warriors 1 more time this season for the rubber match on January 13 at the American Airlines Center.

 

At Portland Trailblazers – Loss 121-118 (OT):  The Mavericks were all but dead in this game, down 3 with 0.6 seconds left, but then we had a HalleLuka Christmas miracle and a moment that will be on every Luka Doncic highlight reel.  Leaning into the corner off the quick pass from Jalen Brunson, a great pass by the way, Luka had Mo Harkless all up in his face.  He catches and shoots in one motion, heaves the ball over the backboard,and swirls it into the hoop to send the game into overtime.  It would have been a bit more impactful had the Mavs gone on to win the game but, even in a loss, there is reason for Mavericks fans to be elated.  There is no way you can doubt it, you can no longer try to call it a coincidence, Luka Doncic is CLUTCH!

So you can watch it over and over…

Western Conference Power Rankings

Biggest Gainer:  Utah Jazz ↑4, LA Clippers ↑4.

Biggest Losers:  Dallas Mavericks ↓2, New Orleans Pelicans ↓2, Memphis Grizzlies ↓2.

  1. Golden State Warriors: (23-12 overall, 2nd in West) (2-2 this week)  – The Warriors had a string of close games this week, an unusual thing for a team this dominant.  They lost by 5 in Utah, beat the Mavericks by 4 and beat the Clippers by 2.  The Warriors are 18-6 when Steph Curry plays this year, to me he remains the leagues most valuable player.  Whenever he is on the court the Warriors are a different team, the best team.  We also have video of DeMarcus Cousins looking like he is just about ready to take the floor and give the Warriors 5 All-Stars from the previous season in their starting 5. Next Week: POR, @POR, @PHO.
  2. Denver Nuggets: (21-10, 1st) (0-1 this week)  – The Nuggets only had one game this week, a 21-point blowout loss in LA against the Clippers.  In 4 of the last 6 games, Nikola Jokic has led Denver in points, rebounds, and assists.  However, not a great look for Jokic when after the game in LA, Clippers Center Marcin Gortat called Jokic the “biggest flopper in NBA history.” Next Week: @SAS, SAS, @PHO, NYK.
  3. OKC Thunder: (21-12, 3rd) (2-2 this week)  – The Thunder are right on the heels of the Nuggets for the lead in the Northwest Division.  They made up ground this week by winning two on the road but then dropping a close game to the Timberwolves in OKC.  George and Westbrook are working nicely together this year, PG has led the team in scoring the last 8 games and Westbrook is doing all of the distributing.  Where they really excel is defensively where they are 2nd in the NBA in defensive rating. Next Week: PHO, @DAL, DAL.
  4. Los Angeles Lakers: (20-14, 4th) (2-1 this week) ↔ – Brandon Ingram returned to action this week for the Lakers after missing the previous two weeks.  Having Ingram on board certainly helped out on Christmas Day when he was matchup up with Kevin Durant after the injury to LeBron James midway through the game. Even with LeBron sidelined, the young Lakers were able to maintain their halftime lead and rout the Warriors 127-101. I think the Lakers are in trouble if LeBron misses extended time, but this win must do wonders for the confidence of the other players. Next week: @SAC, LAC, SAC.
  5. Portland Trailblazers: (19-15, 6th) (2-2 this week)  – Portland survived their run-in with Luka Doncic on Sunday, but barely.  Damian Lillard is averaging 27 ppg so far this season and continues to be one of the leagues best closers.  He can make 3s from anywhere, can take it to the hoop, and is one of the best free throw shooters in NBA history. They had a bit of a setback on Christmas Day in Utah but the Blazers have rebounded well in the standings since their struggles in late November. Next Week: @GSW, GSW, PHI, @SAC.
  6. Houston Rockets: (18-15, T-7th) (3-1 this week)  – Chris Paul’s hamstring, as usual, is a major concern. Although it sounds like he won’t be sidelined for as long as initially reported, every game without CP3 puts a ton of pressure on Harden to do absolutely everything.  This is something that James Harden is completely capable of, averaging 38 points and 9.5 assists per game this week, but can he do it for long periods of time is the question.  Chris Paul is almost 34, has an injury history, and just signed a 4-year max deal this past summer.  Seeing CP3 in a suit is a sight that Rockets fans should get used to for years to come. Next Week: BOS, @NOP, MEM.
  7. LA Clippers: (19-14, 5th) (2-1 this week) ↑4 – After squeaking out a win against the Mavericks on Thursday, the Clippers split just about the toughest back-to-back set that you can have, vs Denver and at Golden.  They beat the Nuggets on Saturday by 21 and lost to the Warriors by 2 on Sunday.  With Lou Williams back in the lineup, the Clippers look to be back to form and looking to climb back up the standings. Next week: SAC, @LAL, SAS, PHI.
  8. San Antonio Spurs: (18-16, 9th) (2-1 this week) ↓1 – San Antonio has been on a tear the last few weeks.  7-3 in their last 10 and their wins in that span were by 13, 13, 25, 27, 39, and 26.  The Spurs were 14th in the power rankings just 3 weeks ago but have rebounded strongly and now look like a serious playoff contender. Next Week: DEN, @DEN, @LAC, BOS.
  9. Sacramento Kings: (18-15, T-7th) (2-1 this week) ↓1 – The Kings just keep winning games.  Over the last 7 days Buddy Hield is averaging 31 ppg includes 6 made 3’s per game while De’Aaron Fox is adding 20 points and 10 assists per game.  The Kings continue to be one of the very best 3 point shooting teams in the NBA. Next week: @LAC, LAL, @LAL, POR.
  10. Utah Jazz: (17-18, 11th) (3-1 this week) ↑4 – The Jazz had an extremely tough slate of games this week with GSW, @POR, OKC, POR, but managed to come out of it in great shape.  They beat the Warriors to start the week and earned two wins against the Blazers, three very nice wins within one week.  5-5 in their last 10, the Jazz are starting to come alive again, bad news for the rest of the West. Next Week: GSW, @POR, OKC, POR.
  11. Memphis Grizzlies: (17-16, 10th) (1-2 this week) ↓2 – The Grizzlies are 3-7 in their last 10 games but were able to get a win Sunday night in Los Angeles against the Lakers behind Jaren Jackson Jr’s (the 2nd best rookie) 27 points and 9 rebounds.  Once the class of the Southwest Division, the Grizzlies are now outside the playoffs picture looking in. Next Week: CLE, BOS, @HOU.
  12. Dallas Mavericks: (15-17, 12th) (0-3 this week) ↓2 – 6 straight losses have the Mavs 3-7 in their last 10 games going into 2 home and home situations with the Pelicans and Thunder.  Although we are on a losing streak and outside of the playoff picture, this is the most fun I have had watching Mavericks games in years.  Not enough can be said about the poise and clutch of Luka Doncic.  The Mavs are never out of the game, even if there is just 0.6 seconds left on the clock.  I would love to see more wins, but for now I will settle for the greatness and excitement of the Slovenian sensation. Next Week: NOP, @NOP, OKC, @OKC.
  13. Minnesota Timberwolves: (15-18, 13th) (1-2 this week)  – The T-Wolves lost in overtime on Wednesday to the Pistons, despite 33 points from Derrick Rose and then were blown out in San Antonio by 26.  They rebounded well and beat the Thunder by 2 in Oklahoma City, an impressive win.  Karl-Anthony Towns had a tough week, scoring just 15 points per game to go along with 6 rebounds, not at all traditional numbers we expect from KAT. Next week: @CHI, ATL, @MIA, @NOP.
  14. New Orleans Pelicans: (15-19, 14th) (0-3 this week) ↓2 – Anthony Davis averaged 28 points, 16 rebounds, and 4 assists per game this past week, but it was not enough for the Pels to get a win. Like the Mavericks, when the Pelicans come to Dallas on Wednesday they will be on a losing streak and be 3-7 in their last 10 games.  Nikola Mirotic has not played in the last 6 games, a stretch in which the Pelicans are 1-5. Next Week: @DAL, DAL, HOU, MIN.
  15. Phoenix Suns: (8-26, 15th) (1-2 this week) – The Suns actually had a 4-game winning streak that stretched into this past week and included a really good win in Boston.  They then lost both ends of a back-to-back against the Wizards (3 OT game) and the Nets, both on the road.  The Suns are still the worst team in the West but it looks like they are at least becoming somewhat competitive. Next week: @ORL, OKC, DEN, GSW.

Western Conference 2018-2019 Team Stats

Teams are listed in order of their standings in the Western Conference. The following heat map shows which teams excel in certain statistical categories and where teams are under performing league average.  The darker the green the more they outperform in that category and the darker the red the worse they are in that category.

ORtg – Offensive Rating – points scored per 100 possessions.
DRtg – Defensive Rating – points allowed per 100 possessions.
NRtg – Net Rating – Difference between Offensive and Defensive Ratings. No surprise that the top 3 teams in the conference are by far the top 3 in Net Rating.  However, if we could adjust these stats to not include October, I think the Mavs would be right up there with the best.

week 10

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