The Mavs have one of their toughest and most important stretches of the season this week. It won’t get much easier for the rest of the regular season, either.
In addition to the loss to the Los Angeles Clippers tonight, this week will feature the Portland Trailblazers and Memphis Grizzlies twice going forward. The good news is that victories in all these games clinch tiebreakers over much of the Western Conference.
It’s tough that all these important dates seem to be hitting Dallas all at once, but such in life in a lockout-shortened season. Still, having the ability to decide your own face is better than the alternative.
To make it tougher, the remaining schedule before the playoffs start includes seven of thirteen games on the road, all while being two games out of eight place in the West and uncomfortably three games away from missing the playoffs all together.
Still, panic isn’t something you’re going to find in the Mavericks locker room.
“Everything is important,” Coach Rick Carlisle said referring to the upcoming schedule and tiebreaker implications. “We’ve really got to dig down. We’re going to have to play whistle to whistle.”
Despite the confident locker room, the Mavericks will have to proceed for at least a week without starting point guard Jason Kidd. As one point guard return-eth in Delonte West, another is apparently taketh away.
“It was an issue Friday, he’s likely out a week,” Carlisle said as he went into detail about the groin injury that will sideline Kidd. “It’s something that’s been an issue, but it needed to be resolved.”
The injury is a setback for the present, but puts forth some interesting possibilities going forward for the Mavs. Kidd missing time provides yet another opportunity for third year guard Roddy Beaubois to step into an increased role and produce on a consistent basis. Consistency is always the key for Beaubois, who has always been able to show flashes, but struggles to sustain it. More playing time is the only way to ultimately find out what the Mavs have in Roddy and if he can actually be in the playoff rotation this time around.
Additionally, getting Kidd as much rest as possible, while still making the playoffs will only help. Before the start of the postseason last year, Kidd was shut down for the last week of the regular season and followed it with one of his most impressive playoff series as a Maverick. Obviously the expectation for this season has been lowered quite a bit due to their recent play, but a rested Kidd will eventually lead to a better, sharper Kidd.
West will even get a few starts at point guard with Kidd out. As good as Jason Kidd has been throughout his career, West’s mid-range game and ability to finish at the rim with his left hand adds a wrinkle to the Mavs’ offense that is virtually nonexistent with Kidd at the reins. Although, that clearly wasn’t enough of a factor tonight.
Despite tonight’s 19-point demolition at the hands of the Clippers, don’t expect doom and gloom in the veteran Mavericks’ locker room. The media and MFFLs will take care of that.