Thursday 29th September 2016,
Balltribe

Are The Dallas Mavericks Screwed?

parsonsSo much for the first-round series between the Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks being an actual competition.

After Tuesday night’s 111-99 loss at Toyota Center, the Mavericks now find themselves in a 2-0 series hole, with little hope of extending their NBA playoff push into the second round.

Make that no hope.

Nothing the Mavericks have done—save for maybe a brief fourth-quarter lead in Game 2—suggests they’re able to erase this deficit. Nothing.

Worse still, nothing that’s happening off the court, after games, in the face of losses, implies they’re approaching a turning point, either.

First and foremost, there are the injuries. Neither Chandler Parsons (knee) nor Devin Harris (toe) played in Game 2. Their status for Game 3 is unknown. Kind of.

Harris’ left big toe may or may not keep him out of Game 3. We don’t know. But Parsons is almost assuredly done for the series.

Consider this, per Mavs Moneyball’s Tim Cato:

And then this:

And then this, per ESPN Dallas’ Tim MacMahon:

The Mavs aren’t going to survive without their third-leading scorer. It just isn’t going to happen. They would need superhuman, out-of-body performances from Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Amar’e Stoudemire circa 2004-05 if they’re to get it done—not to mention actual contributions from Rajon Rondo, whose series could be over courtesy of Rick Carlisle.

Rondo logged just over 30 seconds in the second half. That’s it. He wasn’t injured or anything. It was Carlisle’s decision, and one that clearly frustrated the hell out of Dallas’ point guard.

To wit:

Face it, Rondo’s series isn’t over. He’s real talent, and the Mavericks are in no position to continue benching real talent, even though Rondo’s demeanor on and off the court is sullen, even though they’re being outscored by 34.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor in this series, according to NBA.com, and even though the offense has had more success with J.J. Barea running point.

That Rondo’s playing time—or lack thereof—is even an issue speaks to the unenviable position in which these Mavericks are trapped.

Teams up 2-0 in best-of-seven series win nearly 94 percent of the time. To advance at this stage, after digging themselves this hole, would be to defy history. And the Mavericks just aren’t built to do that anymore. Their midseason tinkering has backfired, leaving them a shell of the team that had the Western Conference’s fifth-best record at the time of Rondo’s arrival.

There is no hiding from the inevitable pain of defeat. Never mind the first-round exit they’re streaking toward. Ellis, Chandler and Rondo will all be free agents this summer, at which point the Mavericks must decide whether to invest tens of millions—perhaps hundreds of millions—in a core that just isn’t good enough and doesn’t complement one another.

rondo1

Rondo’s ticket out of Dallas is basically punched, but he’s not the only issue. Chandler and Nowitzki are aging; Ellis has his offensive and defensive limitations as a star; Parsons’ first go-round hasn’t gone smoothly; and the bench, for all its surprise contributors, is still held together by also-ran veterans and duct tape.

For the Mavericks to wedge Nowitzki’s title window back open, they’ll need to overhaul the roster once more, sort of like they did this past summer and into this season, only more so, and to better consequence.

So yes, they’re screwed—screwed out of a legit playoff push, screwed out of an established foundation upon which to build, screwed out of yet another opportunity to make something meaningful out of Dirk’s twilight.

Watch NOW:

 

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