What could you realistically expect from a team, without their 3rd leading scorer, and best bench player, against the 2 seed in the Western Conference on their home floor? For the first 3 quarters and 1 minute, the Mavs seemingly had hope to steal game two on the road and head back to Dallas with the series tied.
Dallas opened the 4th quarter with 4 straight points, after Monta Ellis hit a deep buzzer beating 3 to end the third, to give Dallas a 84-81 lead. Things looked promising for the Mavs, only to see their lead vanish in an instant. To know how the 4th quarter went after that, look no further than the final score: 111-99, and really 96 if you eliminate a garbage time 3 pointer. The Rockets outscored the Mavs by 15 points in an 11 minute span. Correct me if im wrong, but that is self implosion.
What went wrong:
Rajon Rondo: The Maverick point guard, whom they traded for mid-season to be a massive defensive upgrade over Jameer Nelson, did absolutely nothing in this game. In fact, he hurt the Mavs. He opened up the second half with 2 fouls and a technical foul in 36 seconds. That has to be some kind of record. He has done nothing good for this team. In my opinion, he has quit. He has a plus-minus in the series below negative 30. He played a total of 10 minutes tonight, the lowest minutes hes ever played in a playoff game. The trade is looking worse than ever, and has the Mavericks lost in a 0-2 hole to the Rockets.
“Well, he got his fourth foul so I took him out. I like the way the other guys were playing. So, I elected not to put him back in. Coach’s decision.” – Rick Carlisle
Shooting: You wont win many games shooting 37% from the field. No Maverick starter shot above 40% (excluding Rondo). It is impossible to win on the road (or anywhere for that matter) when not one player shoots the ball well. However, give credit to J.J. Barea, who has come in and provided a spark for the Mavs in this series, proving to be our best point guard option with Harris out and Rondos sorry play. And let that simmer Mavs fans, JJ Barea is a better option than Rajon Rondo. Yikes.
Injuries: Without our 3rd leading scorer, and best bench player, the Mavs already had slim chances. It thinned the bench with Jefferson moving into the starting lineup and J.J. Barea and Raymond Felton having to play key minutes due to Rondo not caring.
The 4th quarter: Its pretty miraculous how you can allow 3 alley oops, all to the same player, from the same player, in a 2 minute span, and the Mavs pulled off that feat. Their defense was non-existent, even more so noticeable with nothing coming on the offensive end. Dwight Howard finished with 5 alley oop dunks, all from Josh Smith, in the 4th quarter. Everything that could’ve possibly went wrong for Dallas in the final frame, did.
“Pretty obvious in the fourth quarter they jumped on us, on a lot of these plays. We’re going to have to find a way to better combat that. We’re going to have to have better body positioning. We’re going to have to smell things out better. We’re going to have to do better and dig a little deeper. That’s what we will do when we get home.” – Rick Carlisle, discussing 4th quarter lobs
The Rockets are actually a good team: Lets not forget who were playing against. After all, they are the 2nd seed in the toughest conference in recent memory. They took advantage of the mistakes Dallas made, and carved up the abysmal defensive displayed by the Mavs in the 4th quarter. Give them credit where credit is due.
The Task At Hand:
What adjustments do the Mavs need to make to win game 3? Rondo is clearly hurting this team, and with Harris still a question mark, and Parsons likely out for more games, there isn’t much room for optimism. They can only ask so much from Dirk Nowitzki, now at age 37 and no longer capable of carrying a team through a playoff series. Monta Ellis hasn’t been the Monta were used to seeing, largely in part to Trevor Ariza and Dwight Howard in the paint. It will take a complete collective effort for the Mavs to get back in this series in game 3.
I don’t make decisions out there. I play hard. I try and help my team win and the rest is on coach. I thought Ray had some good stretches to give us a lift off the bench. I thought JJ had a good first half, so I guess that’s what coach is going with.” – Dirk Nowitzki on Rondo situation.
Though there isn’t much room for optimism (LARGELY due to injuries), the Mavs (other than Rajon Rondo) won’t just quit. And while it hasn’t happened yet, the Mavs do have the best coach in the league when it comes to making adjustments in playoff series. If we are to put hope into anything, it is our head coach.
I end with this: Mavs fans, if you are attending the game on Friday, please, please, PLEASE arrive on time. While ill never understand how a playoff game is starting at 6pm on a Friday, we need yall there louder than ever. Because, #WeAreOne, and we will not quit.
P.S. The game was far from the referees fault.
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