In the Cheap Seats
Go ahead and pull the plug - this team is dead
By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor
March 7, 2008 - Go ahead and pull the plug on the Mavericks' season. This team is dead.
They showed it again on Thursday when they were blown out - at home - by the Houston Rockets. That makes the Mavericks' record 0-5 against other Western Conference teams since making the Jason Kidd trade.
They've lost close ones, they've lost blow outs, they've lost at home, and they've lost on the road. The only common denominator is that they've lost.
Oh, Dallas may make some hay with its upcoming schedule, which has eight of the next nine games at home. But, guess what - three of those home games are against the Lakers, San Antonio and Boston. The way the Mavericks are playing right now, that's three straight losses.
Dallas may beat the likes of New York, Indiana and Miami, but should that give anybody confidence for the playoffs?
That's IF the Mavericks make the playoffs. They are currently in seventh place, just one game ahead of Golden State in eighth and two games ahead of Denver in ninth.
The only plus for the Mavericks is that if they miss the playoffs, the 2008 first-round draft choice they sent to New Jersey is lottery protected, so Dallas would keep its lottery selection.
Not that drafting a young player would matter. Coach Avery Johnson has repeatedly shown he won't play young, athletic, energetic players (see Moe Ager, Antoine Wright, D.J. Mbenga, Marquis Daniels). He prefers old men creeping up and down the court. It's apparent that Johnson doesn't want to play anyone who wasn't in the league before he retired five seasons ago.
Name one player on the Dallas roster that was drafted by Dallas. If you said Josh Howard, you were right. He's the ONLY player drafted by Dallas who still plays for the Mavericks (other than Kidd, who returned to Dallas after playing for three other teams). Don't say Dirk Nowitzki - he was drafted by Milwaukee.
In the process, the Mavericks have gotten older and less athletic, while their competition has gotten younger, hungrier and more athletic. Guess who wins those battles?
Dallas is now the second-oldest team in the league. That is now their identity - old, slow and without any bite.
Avery Johnson has taken this team's identity away. The Mavericks are no longer a high-scoring, fast-break tempo team - they are averaging less than 100 points per game. And they're not a defensive team - they are next-to-last in the conference in steals and dead last in forcing opponents' turnovers.
While Johnson took them to the NBA Finals in 2006, it was with the team Don Nelson had assembled. This is now Avery's team - and it's lost on offense and heartless on defense.
The Mavericks are no longer listening to whatever Avery is preaching. Once the congregation has quit listening to the preacher, it's time for a change.