“If you don’t create change, change will create you”
On December 28th, 2009, I opened a recap with the notion that everything had changed. The Mavs had just posted an impressive victory against the Denver Nuggets, and were showing significant progress from the ’08-’09 season. Weaknesses were turning into strengths, and the Mavs looked poised to make some serious post-season noise.
A little over a month later, everything has changed…again. The defense — once a relative weakness and then a strength — is again troublesome. The late-game execution — once average and then somewhat celestial — is all over the map. The positional versatility — once nonexistent and then one of the Mavs’ greatest strengths — has created more questions than answers. A loss to the 12-38 Timberwolves definitely qualifies as a watershed moment for the slumping Mavs, and one way or another, things are destined to change yet again. That change could come naturally (an unmotivated team suddenly uses the abject failure of last night’s loss as its muse) or through a trade, but it’s a-comin’. The Mavs will be better; there’s too much talent, too many veterans, and too good of a coaching staff to assume otherwise.
But let’s not for a single minute obscure just how bad of a loss this was. The Mavs didn’t lose by 10, much less 50, but they completely buckled in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and allowed one of the worst teams in the league to unleash a 13-2 run at the least opportune time imaginable. There wear near-makes and mental mistakes, but this is a situation where there is absolutely no excuse for what the Mavericks did or rather, what they failed to do. If the Mavs lose to a six-man Warriors team early in the season, that can be forgiven in the name of long-term improvement and written off as an anomaly. But when you drop a game to an even lesser team in February? “That’s not what championship teams do.” That’s not what playoff teams do. That’s probably not even what the 11th seed in the West this year would do.
There were plenty of individual positives in this game (most of which belong to Minnesota), but I’ll spare you. The sooner we can forget about a loss like this, the better.