In the NBA’s Western Conference, the No. 8 spot currently, belongs to the Dallas Mavericks. If they wish to make the playoffs, they will need to be much more consistent. They have not been playing their best basketball of late.
Right behind the Mavericks in the Western Conference standings are the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix is right behind the Mavericks, and have just welcomed back Eric Bledsoe.
Dallas has struggled of late. They have won just three of their last seven, and their losses were to the Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and Golden State Warriors. They did win two games in a row against the Portland Trail Blazers and the Indiana Pacers.
On Wednesday night, the Mavericks pulled out a 108-101 win at the lowly Utah Jazz. The Jazz kept it close throughout before Dallas pulled away late in the fourth. Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points for the Mavericks. Monta Ellis chipped in with 16 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds. Trey Burke scored 20 points for the Jazz. Enes Kanter had 18 points and 11 boards.
If Dallas hopes to hold on to the final spot, Rick Carlisle will need his crew to play with much more consistent effort throughout each game.
Defensively, they have given up 100 or more points in 10 of their last 14 games. In those 10 games, they are just 4-6. They are 4-0 in the other games in which they have not given up 100 points.
Offensively, Dallas will be fine as long as Nowitzki and Ellis can carry the load. Other players, like Vince Carter, will have their nights, but Nowitzki and Ellis are by far the Mavericks’ best offensive weapons.
This is not the time for Dallas to be taking opponents lightly, which they may have done against the Jazz; it almost cost them the game. They need to be coming out with consistent energy and focus. If they don’t, they could very well be watching the playoffs from home for a second straight season.