The Dallas Mavericks are in real danger of missing the playoffs for only the second time in the last 16 seasons.
Their 133-111 blowout loss to the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, meant Dallas, who played the Denver Nuggets last night, had dropped 10 of their past 12 games to fall to ninth in the Western Conference standings and out of the playoffs.
Although they’re very much still in the hunt for what will likely be a tight race for the sixth, seventh and eighth seeds, the Mavericks are fading fast and could miss the post-season, just five years after winning the NBA Championship.
“We’ve got to decide if we want to go home after the last game or not,” said shooting guard Wesley Matthews, who is in his first year with the franchise.
“Everybody’s got to look in the mirror and decide what the hell they want to do. Do we want to play for something or do we not? Do we want to waste six, seven months of our lives just being NBA players and another season and blah, blah, blah or do we want to do something that’s meaningful?
“Do we want to take a run? Anything can happen in the postseason. Do we want to lay everything out on the line every single night nine more times and let the chips fall or do we want to go to Travelocity?”
Not helping the cause has been the injury bug, with Chandler Parsons, who’s as crucial to Dallas’ offence as anyone not named Dirk Nowitzki, having his season cut short to a torn meniscus.
Point guard Deron Williams, meanwhile, has missed the past three games and is out for an unknown period of time due to an abdominal strain.
The Mavericks have endured significant player turnover during Nowitzki’s tenure and dealt with their share of adversity, but have consistently found ways to triumph with winning season after winning season. But that streak is in major jeopardy, with the Mavericks on pace to suffer their first losing campaign since 1999-2000 – Nowitzki’s second year in the league.
“It’s tough, but there’s no excuses ever made in this league,” Nowitzki said. “Whoever’s out there has got to do their part and play their role and play up to their potential and compete on both ends of the floor. We’ll live with the result.”
If Dallas do miss the playoffs and end up as a lottery team, they won’t even be able to take solace in their first-round draft pick, which is owed to the Boston Celtics (top-seven protected) from the Rajon Rondo trade.
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