DALLAS, TX — The first 20 games of the season, the Dallas Mavericks have been one of the surprise teams in the NBA while also being one of the hardest teams in the league to figure out.
After going on a six-game winning streak, which included big victories over the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers, the Mavericks lost four out of five games, which featured bad losses to the Sacramento Kings and the New Orleans Pelicans. Why the inconsistency for a talented team that has the potential to be a surprise playoff contender in April?
“The truth is there is no game that’s going to be easy – this year really straight up and down in the league,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said. “You talk about teams that are bad on paper – Philadelphia, we played them and they hadn’t won a game and that was a ball-buster that was a one-point game with three minutes to go. Teams play hard, rosters are more equal up and down throughout the league. It’s just not going to be any easy night, period.”
After losing to the Rockets on Friday night, the Mavericks (11-9) hit the road Sunday to take on the equally inconsistent Washington Wizards (8-9).
A major situation that needs monitoring during their games going forward is the minutes and play of Chandler Parsons. The small forward is under a strict 25 minutes a game limit set by the Mavericks’ medical staff, due to gradually recovering from hybrid microfracture surgery on his right knee this offseason.
With Parsons in and out of the lineup as he works his way back, he’s averaging career lows of 8.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists in 19.2 minutes per game. The Mavericks offense’ has struggled to develop any continuity, as Parsons was brought to Dallas to be a consistent first or second option.
To jump-start him and their offense, Parsons is in line to be the Mavericks’ sixth man the next couple of weeks while he continues to recover from the knee surgery.
“I still only played 26 minutes, I’m usually top five in the league in minutes played, so I’m used to playing a lot of minutes,” Parsons said. “It’s a process and I’ll get there. It’s [minutes] just going to keep gradually going up and up. You know, back-to-back coming up and we have to figure out what I’m going to do there, but like I said this has been a frustrating process for everybody trying to get back to 100 percent.”
Though many in the Mavericks’ organization expect the minutes restriction to be lifted sometime in January, not having one of their big-money players at full strength has definitely played a part in the roller coaster start to this season. Dallas has scored less than 100 points in five of the last seven games.
In the uptempo Western Conference, being able to score consistently is just as vital as playing strong defense if you plan on being a playoff team. Despite the overall solid results, the Mavericks are searching for ways to play like the team they were during their winning streak on a day-to-day basis.
“It’s frustrating, you know, we have to be a little bit more consistent as a team,” Mavericks point guard Deron Williams said after Friday night’s loss to the Rockets.