The Mavericks Go Cold Against the Heat

What a miserable performance. Fellow NBA teams, take note: if you’re looking for a foolproof recipe to end a winning streak, just do what the Mavericks did on New Year’s Day in Miami. You know that stupid expression “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”? Well, Dallas had no business being in the kitchen tonight. The on-court chefs didn’t bother to measure the ingredients, they overcrowded the pan, and they sure as hell didn’t slice the meat against the grain. It’s fortunate this was a road performance, because the home crowd deserves better than this shitty meal.

It was clear from the start that this was going to be a tough start to the new year. Dallas left the floor at the end of the first quarter having put all of 10 points on the board, shooting 5-for-23 in the process. They missed their first five shots before Zaza Pachulia connected on a 9-foot jumper over three minutes into the quarter, and then converted on three more field goals within the next four minutes before going into another lengthy slumber. Things didn’t get much better from there.

Of course, Miami wasn’t much better initially, so there was no cause for panic at first. In fact, the Heat led just 11-8 until the five-minute mark, when they proceeded to go on an 11-2 run to finish the quarter. Although Dallas shot the ball much better in the second quarter, the Heat kept pace perfectly, and no ground could be gained in the second half. The Heat won every quarter, were up by as much as 26, and never once relinquished the lead. This was like making a New Year’s Resolution to eat better and then starting 2016 off with a morning run to McDonald’s.

Still, perspective is important here. The Heat are a good team, a solid contender in the suddenly highly competitive Eastern Conference, and they were playing at their best. Hassan Whiteside was especially unstoppable, scoring 25 points and snatching 19 rebounds. I was admittedly disappointed that he blocked just one shot considering he’s seriously as good at doing that as Stephen Curry is at hitting threes, but he pretty much stole the show regardless. Thankfully, JaVale McGee got some minutes and supplied me with my much-needed block fix himself since Whiteside wasn’t up to the task.

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I can find time to swoon over McGee even after a loss with very little in the way of bright spots. The impossibly oafish and lovable McGee may do more wrong than he does right, but it’s plays like these that ensure my love for him never fades. It’s simply beautiful that he gets beat off the dribble by Chris Bosh only to catch up to him and swat his shot back into 2015. No other player on the Mavericks is athletic enough to do that.

Speaking of athleticism, it was the very play before the one above that McGee pulled off another impressive stunt, this time on the offensive end. Take note that this was still early in the second quarter when there was some hope remaining.

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This is another example of something no one else on the Mavericks can do. McGee was practically facing the other end of the court when he snatched Raymond Felton‘s lob, and he still managed to slam it home using just one hand. Granted, I’ve seen JaVale enough now to know that he literally can only do one thing, which is set a screen and then wander off to the basket looking for the pass at the rim. Not coincidentally, this is what you see here, although he didn’t even bother finishing the screen in this case. He has a limited number of items in his big of tricks, but that bag certainly is pretty.

Not surprisingly, these few McGee highlights were not enough to rescue the Mavericks from a certain loss on Friday night. Dirk Nowitzki continued his alarming stretch of terrible shooting (4-for-14), and as can be expected, the rest of the team followed suit. Dallas has been on a nice run offensively lately, but performances like these remind everyone they’re still capable of coming out and firing off enough bricks to fend off even the biggest, baddest version of the villain in “The Three Little Pigs.”

Falling to 19-14 isn’t so bad, though. A four-game winning streak may have gone up in smoke along with that terrible casserole the Mavs tried to cook, but the first win of 2016 can’t be too far in the future. It may even come in the very next game at the expense of Anthony Davis and his permanently furrowed brow.

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