The Dallas Mavericks road woes continued on Thursday night. Once again, the Phoenix Suns showed up and out performed the Mavs. It’s the NBA and anybody can win on any given night but if Dallas wants to be taken seriously as a playoff contender they have to beat teams like the Suns, who only had four wins coming into Thursday’s contest. With the 99-89 loss Dallas falls to 2-13 on the road and 0-4 in the second games of back to back sets this season.
Dirk Nowitzki made his return to the court during the second quarter of the game and made NBA history. He became the first player to play 21 consecutive seasons with one franchise. This was the only good thing about the Mavs performance against the Suns. Dirk played six minutes and finished with two points and one rebound. As you would expect, Dirk looked a little stiff on the floor after missing the first 26 games of the season due to ankle surgery. He also fell down three times in his six minutes, which surely will get a few laughs in the locker room.
Awful shooting night
Dallas could have built multiple houses in Phoenix with how many bricks they put up on Thursday. They shot 5 for 33 from the three point line, good for 15%. Although they probably took too many threes, they did get to the free thrown line, shooting 33 free throws. The problem is they only converted 66% of them. Shooting 40% from the field, 66% from the free throw line, and 15% from three will get you a loss every time, regardless of how good your defense is. They can point the blame to tired legs, but they need to understand this and not shoot so many threes on the second games of back to back sets if that is the trend.
Bench rotation adjustments
Coach Rick Carlisle has a difficult decision to make in regards to the bench line up with Dirk’s return. Dallas has had one of, if not the best bench, in the NBA before Nowitzki came back. It will be interesting to see who loses minutes in the rotation to make room for the Big German. Tonight it was Maxi Kleber, who did not play until the second half. But Kleber has one of the best plus-minus rating of anyone in the Mavs bench rotation. He is arguably the team’s second best defender behind Dorian Finney-Smith. He defends the paint and pick-and-roll better than DeAndre Jordan. Those skills have contributed to the Mavs 15-12 record. I understand that Dirk is going to play, but Kleber shouldn’t be the one to lose minutes. Neither should Dorian Finney-Smith. Honestly, neither should Dwight Powell. This is the conundrum Carlisle faces as Dirk gets re-integrated into the rotation.
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