Now the Mavericks Are Just Pissing Me Off

For the second game in the row, the Mavericks played a competitive first half and then forgot what basketball was down the stretch, and I’m already past the distraction of feeling encouraged that I mind when they don’t play well. I do mind, and I’m not used to a team I root for being a lost cause, so I’m not taking this very well. In fact, I’m starting to think that what this team can’t do is going to make them hard to watch this season.

That isn’t to suggest I’m jumping ship, not at all. Fate itself chose the Mavericks for me, and I think that’s a perfectly fine reason to be loyal. After all, we don’t get to pick who our families are, and we stick with them through everything, even if they annoy us most of the time and we sometimes question how much we have in common aside from sharing the same blood. I didn’t choose to be a Mavericks fan based on the composition of the roster or their location, and I’m not going to apologize for that. After all, when you want to get into a sport and you pick a favorite team, any reason can be called into question, and it seems like cheating just to pick one that you like the best from the outset. I don’t see anything wrong with how I came to be stuck with the Mavericks, and I’m going to ride it out, dammit.

In the process of going 2-3 and falling hard against a team for the second consecutive contest, Dallas made me worry that I’m going to have to pay my dues before I get to enjoy the run the long-term fans have enjoyed the past 15 years, and I’m fine with that, but it would certainly help if I knew the front office was pulling the right strings to build the next great core group. There are some serious weaknesses on this club, and while you can shrug it off when it’s a young team that’s bound to get better with experience, there is no such logic to be employed when one of the oldest teams in the league is also one of the least exciting.

That’s enough negativity. The reality is that I already love this dumb team, and I want to see them succeed, even if it’s painfully obvious the roster build is flawed as is. When JaVale McGee comes back and starts swatting every opponent shot into oblivion, it’s doubtful the Mavs lose another game, so the main goal is just to stay afloat for the time being.

Staying afloat is just what Dallas seemed to be doing going into the half last night, in fact. With the score at 54-53, the Hornets had a very narrow lead, and Chandler Parsons had not yet logged a minute. As I quickly debated what kind of delicious meal would accompany the second half, I was sure things were about to get better. Instead they got worse, much worse, and no amount of Sausage McMuffins in the middle of an ordinary evening could hide that fact, no matter how hard I tried to drown it in ketchup. Yes, I had french fries with my breakfast food, okay? If McDonald’s didn’t want that combination to happen, they should have thought twice about serving breakfast all day. I don’t have anything to apologize for.

The idea of trying Parsons in the second half was a good one, but enough has already been written about that seemingly failed experiment. The problem is not with whatever effect Parsons had on the team, however; it’s with the poor shooting in the second half, an alarming trend over the last two games. After shooting 50 percent from the field in the first half, the Mavs were just 13-for-44 in the final two quarters, at one point missing a billion shots in a row no matter how open the players were. Even the great Dirk Nowitzki couldn’t do anything to stop this awful stretch, and at the other end Al Jefferson cackled continuously as he connected on 15 of his 18 field goal attempts. Gross, Al, just gross.

Considering the team’s 39 percent shooting from the field, you’d think there would be a lot of offenders, but that wasn’t really the case — the blame can be spread pretty evenly. Wesley Matthews has got to find his shooting stroke, and Parsons was only 1-for-5 over the course of his second half experiment, but you can’t get too mad at those guys. They’re among the best players this team has, and neither is at full strength yet. I’m just as excited to see the real Matthews as I am Parsons, by the way. Reading about his top-notch post-up abilities and seeing him play solid defense, I know Matthews can be a big threat if he ever gets back to his best.

The team is a work in progress at the moment, and I get that. It would be a whole lot easier to swallow if they would stop giving games away in the second half, however.

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