The Dallas Mavericks have lost four games in a row to playoff bound teams in the Western Conference. Many people have been quick to judge the Mavs on their recent acquisition of Jason Kidd and have eluded that the Mavs still lack what it takes to get through the West.
The fact is, every team in the West right now is crazy-good and is facing their own adversity.
The Suns are still adjusting to playing with Shaq. San Antonio has acquired Damon Stoudamire and Kurt Thomas, while also trying to keep sharpshooter Brent Barry from leaving town. Houston has had to see Yao undergo surgery, again. The Hornets have been trying to keep up with the Quest in the West for big men and have finally gotten Chris Anderson reinstated (remember the Birdman). Golden State has seen Webber go down with a hurt knee and the Jazz recently added Korver. Finally, everyone knows Kobe has a hurt pinkie, except for maybe Kobe. He has been dominating of late and playing like he doesn't know about his injured finger.
The Mavericks four losses, let me remind you, came against the Hornets on Kidd's first game back in the Big D, without substantial practice with his new team. That game was decided by 11 points, 104-93, with Kidd adding 15 assists. The next loss came eight days later to San Antonio, 94-97. On March 2 the Mavs lost to the Lakers 108-104 in OT. The fourth loss came last night to Utah by 6 points, 116-110.
For anyone keeping track, the Mavs are 4-4 with Kidd.
So what's so impressive about these losses? There are several reasons...
If you look at the current playoff seeding in the West, each of the teams that have handed Dallas a loss with Kidd currently fill out the top four spots.
Each loss was also an away game for the Mavericks. As far as allowing 50+ points to an amazing Kobe Bryant, it could happen to anyone in the league, he is that good, and the Dallas defense is nothing to worry about as long as Avery is still at the reigns.
San Antonio struggled to beat Minnesota and Memphis on the road since the All-Star Break, the Hornet have won only one of three on the road since the Break, Utah has lost three of four on the road, and the Lakers have won two of three.
Take any of these top four teams and give them a new point guard and let’s see how well they fare against the league's top tier teams.
Granted, Jason Kidd is not your ordinary point guard, but to lose these games so closely and away from home in a playoff type environment is not all bad.
Anyone who has seen Kidd play with the Mavs knows he still has what it takes. He has brought mental toughness, skill, leadership, and a competitive attitude that the Mavs seemed to have lost earlier this season. He is averaging 12 points, 10.5 assists, and 6.5 rebounds since heading back to his original team.
These are the reasons GM's from around the league contested the Kidd trade so vigorously. They know Kidd's capabilities and how he can thrive when surrounded in talent. No offense to the Nets, but Dallas has a much better supporting cast to compliment Kidd with and the results get better each day.
If I am Avery Johnson, I am not worried about all the comments about my mismanagement in San Antonio, or the fact that the Lakers outplayed us down the stretch.
Instead, I am eagerly anticipating the playoffs, the moment at which the Dallas Mavericks Training Camp ends, and the real season begins.