And there it goes.
We can officially say goodbye to the 2015-2016 Dallas Mavericks season.
Following their 118-104 loss in game five Monday night, the Mavs can finally rid themselves of the overly physical Oklahoma City Thunder and this mentally grueling, injury plagued season.
Already without the likes of Chandler Parsons and Deron Williams, Dallas was also without the services of David Lee and Salah Mejri for the must-win game five. It was going to be a constant uphill battle, but the Mavericks certainly didn’t just bow down to the Thunder in the face of tough circumstances.
With a 24 point performance from Dirk Nowitzki and five other players with double digit scoring nights, the Mavericks were able to hang around essentially until the final four minutes of the game when their shooting went cold.
After Nowitzki drained a left corner three to pull Dallas within 4 at 107-103 with 4:07 left in the game, the Thunder finished the Mavs with an 11-1 run that was fueled by some major offensive rebounds and second chance points. Oklahoma City only had one more offensive rebound than Dallas (a 14-13 edge) but the Thunder’s were much more timely and ultimately were the difference throughout the series.
The Thunder rode the combined 69 points from Kevin Durant (33) and Russell Westbrook (36) to their first series win of the Billy Donovan-era. They will face the San Antonio Spurs in the Conference Semifinals.
Youth Movement Shows Promise
The Mavericks had plenty of positive reminders throughout the season that they have some quality young talent on hand with second year big man Dwight Powell and rookie wing Justin Anderson. Monday night was no exception as the pair combined for 30 points on 11-17 shooting from the field.
Anderson is on his first round draft pick rookie contract and under contract for at least two more seasons with Dallas, but Powell will enter the summer as a restricted free agent. It will be interesting to see if Dallas will be willing to spend a bit more to keep the young big man if they have any competition for his services.
A Resilient Group
The Texas Rangers made “Never Ever Quit” their official motto last season, but it might be this season’s Mavs who embody that statement the most. Entering the season with two starters recovering from major injuries and following an offseason that led plenty of media members to project them possibly finishing at the bottom of the standings, the Mavs battled all season to get to achieve what they did.
It wasn’t a pretty season for the Mavericks, by any stretch of the imagination. However, behind strong team chemistry and the veteran leadership of the likes of Nowitzki and Wesley Matthews, Dallas was able to do the things they needed to do to reach their goals.
They finished with a winning record, they made the playoffs and they competed well in their playoff series despite being way outmatched by their opponent.
Coach Rick Carlisle put it best during his postgame press conference: “If I’m a Mavs fan, I couldn’t be prouder of this group of guys.”
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