It’s funny how much can change in a week.
Last Sunday, the Mavs were annihilated by the Kings in Sacramento and fell to a season low three games under .500 at 35-38. It was the low point for the season and things looked insanely bleak for Dallas’ playoff chances.
One week later, the Mavericks have won four straight to get back over .500 at 39-38 and control their own destiny over their final five games to clinch a playoff birth.
The Mavs won their fourth straight Sunday with a 88-78 win in Minneapolis over the young and talented Timberwolves. It definitely won’t go down as the prettiest win of the season; as Dallas shot a mere 39% overall from the field. However, the Mavs held their fourth consecutive opponent under 90 points and that’s something Coach Rick Carlisle liked.
“Our team defense and collective will carried us,” Carlisle said after the game. “When you’re having a rough night shooting the ball, the only thing that’s going to keep you in games is the ability to get stops.”
Mavs guard Wesley Matthews, who finished second to only J.J. Barea in scoring for the Mavs with a 19 point performance, is a big fan of his team’s recent defensive performances.
“That’s where our mojo and juice needs to come from,” Matthews said referring to his team’s defense. “We can’t be that team that relies solely on making shots.”
After trailing by five at the end of the first quarter, the Mavs outscored the T’Wolves by 15 over the final three quarters to provide themselves with their first four game winning streak of this calendar year.
Another Off Night for the Big German: It was another subpar shooting performance for Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki. With his 4-18 shooting line Sunday, he’s now shooting a measly 29% from the field in his last five games.
The two full days off between games and the arrival of his personal coach Holger Geschwinder hopefully provide Nowitzki with a nice spark for the final stretch of the season.
Rookie Providing Spark to Starting Lineup: Justin Anderson has started all four games of the Dallas winning streak after starting only one game before that this season. His length and athleticism combined with an obvious upswing in confidence on the offensive end have resulted in showcasing just how much the first year player out of Virginia can bring to the table. Anderson was one point shy of his first career double double with a 9 point, 10 rebound performance Sunday that featured several highlight plays including a monstrous putback dunk in the second quarter.
Sunday’s game with the 25-52 Timberwolves was Dallas’ last game of the regular season against a team not in the thick of the Western Conference playoff chase. The final five games for the Mavs are against teams with an average winning percentage of 60. Dallas will have two nights off before hosting a vital game Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets. The Mavs are currently one game ahead of the Rockets in the standings but will badly need Wednesday’s game in order to finish ahead of Houston because of how the tiebreakers fall in the Rocket’s favor. Houston also won Sunday, defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder at home, and will also not play until Wednesday night.
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