Dallas Mavericks: Stretch Against NBA Bottom Feeders Could Make or Break Season

Chris HummerAnalyst IMarch 13, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 08:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks walks off the court after being defeated by the Phoenix Suns in the NBA game at US Airways Center on March 8, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Mavericks 96-94. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks are floundering. In their nine games in 12 nights stretch coming out of the All-Star break, they only managed to go 2-7 against subpar competition—only one of the nine teams are currently in playoff position.

The poor start, out of the break, has dropped the Mavericks all the way to the seventh seed in the West, and only one game ahead of the ninth-seeded Timberwolves.

Now, the Mavericks are going into a two-game home stretch in which they play the two worst teams in the league, Washington and Charlotte.

If Dallas can put together a pair of solid performances against the bottom feeders of the league it would go a long way to getting the team back on track. But if they struggle and fail to sweep this soft spot in the schedule, it could entirely derail the season.

Dallas is already a team on the brink, there are rumors that there are issues in the locker room and a general lack of motivation from the players—case in point, Lamar Odom. However, winning is the cure-all for any problems a team is having, and an opportunity to play the most inept teams in the league could be exactly what the Mavs need to get back to their usual place in the top four in the conference.

Washington comes to the American Airlines Center, tonight, to tip off against the defending NBA champions, and there is no reason for the Mavericks not to bury this young and inexperienced team.

The Wizards are in the bottom third of the league in almost every statistical category and rank second to last on the defensive end of the floor allowing 102 points a game.

The Mavs have really been struggling to put the ball in the basket, so maybe a game against the undisciplined Wizards defense could be the spark needed to kick start this offense.

Washington is led by the talented John Wall and an athletic supporting cast but they don’t make the correct basketball plays. They are turnover prone, play terrible defense and don’t run Flip Saunders’ system well, if the Mavs fail to beat the Wizards it wouldn’t be a good sign.

However, expect the Mavericks to come away with a “W” in the game giving them a little momentum before they face the worst team in the league, the Charlotte Bobcats.

The Wizards are bad, but the Bobcats take that word to a whole other level.

Charlotte has only six wins and is dead last in points scored a game. Things have gotten so bad that its averages for points scored and points allowed are separated by 13 points. A terrible number for a high school team let alone a professional franchise.

This should be another easy win for the Mavs. If they can manage to come away with victories in each of these games it will give the team a confidence boost moving forward and stop all of the unrest talk, at least for now.

However, if Dallas losses one or both of these games it could bring the locker room issues to the surface and cause real problems. Or worse yet, causes the team to play themselves into a funk that is incredibly hard to work out of, because losing creates an attitude, and a hard one to break at that. 

When people took a look at this lockout-shortened schedule early on they would have dismissed this pair of games as easy wins. Now, this two-game set has become a must win and the results of these matchups could determine the course of the season.