February 15, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Western Conference forward Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks (41) during the second half of the 2015 NBA All-Star Game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
8. Dallas: They rank pretty high on the pundits lists, but the fact their competition hasn’t been as tough as most has me hesitating to move them up. That combined with their excellence at killing bad teams while struggling against good teams factors heavily in where I’m placing them. Still, that’s not to say I don’t believe in this squad. Rather, I think they have a true leader in their coach Rick Carlisle who I believe ranks just behind Popovich as the best in the Association. Yearly he seems to find a way to get the best out of his players so news today Amar’e Stoudemire got bought out by New York and is headed to Dallas makes me think this will be his second coming. Carlisle will find a way to utilize Stoudemire to his benefit and get the most out of those old knees.
Of all the teams headed into the break the Mavericks needed it the most with Rajon Rondo healing from a broken orbital bone, Monta Ellis recuping an injured hip and Tyson Chandler dealing with a sprained ankle courtesy of front court assassin Spencer Hawes. To wit, Chandler needs to be healthy or the Mavs won’t make it far in the West. He has showcased this season why Dallas won their recent championship over Miami and with him healthy they can’t be ruled out.
I’m still not sure Rondo is the right fit for the club though as they seem to play better without him on the court and while he’s been out injured their defense hasn’t suffered, which I’m sure has the team guy using analytics scratching their heads.
Post Break their final games break out like this:
- 2o home games versus 8 road games
- 19 games facing teams over .500
- 6 remaining games versus Southwest Division where they currently sit third and have a 4-6 record
- Only 7 of their remaining games are versus the East and of those 3 are facing above .500 teams
(last week 10th)
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