After the seventh-seeded Houston Rockets annihilated the Dallas Mavericks 136-103 Monday night, it became evidently clear that the team’s playoffs hopes have taken a dive. However, head coach Rick Carlisle still believes his players can band together and make a run at it.
Carlisle does not want his team to give up hope and surrender the season. The Mavericks may be looking up at 10 teams in the Western Conference standings and they may be 5.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Utah Jazz, but with 23 games left, there is still plenty to accomplish.
“What is there to play for? We’re professionals,” Carlisle told Dallasnews.com. “We’re getting paid to compete. We’re getting paid to win games. And we’re not out of the playoff race, either. I understand if you look at the standings right now, it doesn’t look good. But a lot can happen in a month and a half. We got to make a stand.”
Dallas will get a great opportunity to mount their comeback Tuesday when they take on Houston for the second consecutive night. Considering the game will be played at American Airlines Center, the assumption is that the Mavericks will use the home court advantage to avenge their blowout loss.
Not to mention, a win against the Rockets could realistically spark a three-game win streak in which Dallas plays two opponents that figure to not put up much of a fight. Unfortunately, it will get difficult after that as 10 of their 11 opponents are currently in line for a postseason berth.
If the Mavericks want any chance of getting their ticket punched to the big dance, they must make their stand now. If they are not prepared to play unselfish, physical basketball, then they should just give up now because there is no point in playing half-heartedly this late in the season with so much on the line.
Even if Dallas fails to do any damage over the next couple of weeks, it is not as if they have nothing to play for, considering nine players are set to become free agents this summer.
“If you want to write us off, go ahead,” Carlisle explained to Dallasnews.com “But I’ll just tell you this. This is a great situation in Dallas. The guys in the locker room that are free agents, every second they step on the court, they’re auditioning for Donnie (Nelson) and Mark (Cuban) as to whether they’re going to have a chance to be here after this year.”
There is no question this Mavericks squad that the fans have become so fond of will have a different look come next season, which is more reason for the players to leave everything they’ve got on the court. The good news for everyone emotionally involved with the team is that Carlisle will not let his players walk into the off-season without giving a full-throttled performance.