5 Things to Watch for During Dallas Mavericks' Final Games
The Dallas Mavericks continue to battle for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference. It’s pretty unbelievable how strong the West has been all season long and that a team like Dallas could miss out, while a team as lowly as the New York Knicks could sneak in.
Fortunately for the Mavericks, they have Dirk Nowitzki and have looked like a playoff team all year long. The Mavericks will do everything they can to get into the postseason and if they play to their potential, there will be no denying them.
It’s sure to be a wild finish in the Western Conference and the Mavericks will definitely be in the thick of the madness. Here are five things to watch for as the Mavericks’ season winds down.
All stats via basketball-reference.com.
The bench has been a key to the Mavericks' success all season long. Vince Carter has led the charge, but the play of Brandan Wright and Devin Harris has been just as vital.
With the season winding down and fatigue sure to set in, the Mavs bench players will need to continue to bring energy and aggression to the court.
Wright’s play has been as important as anyone’s for this team recently thanks to the Mavericks' lack of depth at center. With Sam Dalembert having just a so-so year, Wright’s play has been enormous.
With four of the Mavericks bench players ranking in the top six in player efficiency rating for the team, there is no denying the importance of these guys. Look for the play of Carter, Harris and Wright to be a big factor in determining what happens to Dallas.
Everyone knows how important Dirk Nowitzki is to this team. He’s the Mavericks' leader, their best player and is just an all-around stud. With not many games left on the schedule, Dirk will continue to have to carry the load.
Though he’s 35 years old, Nowitzki hasn’t really shown any signs of slowing down recently and still is threatening to secure his second season in the 50-40-90 club (shooting at or above 50 percent on field goals, 40 percent on three-pointers and 90 percent on free throws). The Mavericks will need Nowitzki to continue to play like it’s 2005 if he wants to keep his team in the playoff picture.
If he can get some more help from his teammates, Dirk and the Mavs will almost certainly still be playing after their 82nd game of the season.
March Home Stand
The Mavericks are a very good 21-10 at the American Airlines Center this season. At 11 games over .500 in Dallas this year, the Mavericks fate will seemingly be decided by their eight-game homestand in March.
Starting on St. Patrick’s Day, the Mavericks will have eight straight home games in what could end up being the defining stretch of their season.
The games will by no means be easy. The Mavericks will have to take on some very challenging opponents including Brooklyn, Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers. However, if Dallas can continue to play like it has at home all season, this stretch could help solidify a playoff spot.
As Monta goes, so go the Mavericks.
Monta Ellis is the most important non-German player the Dallas Mavericks have. Monta’s play this year has been unbelievably essential to the Mavericks success.
Ellis is a playmaker and though sometimes he seems to have tunnel vision straight to the hoop, when Ellis is creating and scoring, the Mavericks are very tough to beat.
Dallas is 18-7 this season when Ellis has seven or more assists in a game and are an even better 9-1 when Ellis records at least seven assists and 20 points.
Over the final stretch, Ellis will be key. If he is creating and scoring, Dallas is playoff bound without a doubt.
Final Three Games
With Dallas battling Phoenix and Memphis for playoff spots, it is very possible that these could be elimination games for any of the three teams. If it stays this close, the Mavericks will need to be at their best in the last few games to get into the playoffs.
Regardless of whether they are for the playoffs, the games are almost certain to have an impact on seeding in the West. With the games sure to have some sort of importance to them, it will be interesting to see just how imperative winning them will be for Dallas.