If the postseason started today, the Dallas Mavericks would miss out — not just the playoffs but also the play-in.
The Mavericks fell to the No.11 seed in the West (tied with the Thunder for 10th) after an ugly loss Friday night to a tanking Hornets team playing without LaMelo Ball and on the second night of a back-to-back. The fans booed the Mavericks. What was Jason Kidd’s reaction? Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN:
“We probably should have been booed in the first quarter,” Mavericks coach Jason Kidd said…. “The interest level [from players] wasn’t high,” Kidd said. “It was just disappointing.”
That was a little different than Kyrie Irving‘s reaction to the boos.
Kyrie Irving on boos in Dallas: “So what? … You obviously want to play well, but you it’s only five people on the court that can play for Dallas Mavericks. If the fans wanna change places, then hey, be my guest. Got years of work ahead to be great enough to be on this level.”
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 25, 2023
Then there is franchise cornerstone Luka Dončić, who sounded worn down, by the season and the losing in Dallas.
“We got to fight hard, play harder. That’s about it. We got to show we care and it starts with me first. I’ve just got to lead this team, being better, playing harder. It’s on me….
“I think you can see it with me on the court. Sometimes I don’t feel it’s me. I’m just being out there. I used to have really fun, smiling on court, but it’s just been so frustrating for a lot of reasons, not just basketball.”
Look at seeds 5-10 in the West and you see teams that have struggled but have the elite talent and experience to be a postseason threat: The Phoenix Suns (Devin Booker, and Kevin Durant expected back next week), the Golden State Warriors (Stephen Curry and the four-time champions), the Los Angeles Lakers (Anthony Davis and maybe before the season ends LeBron James).
Should the Mavericks be in that class? On paper yes, they have clutch playoff performers of the past in Dončić and Irving, but an energy-less loss to Charlotte showed a team lacking the chemistry and fire right now that teams like the Lakers (beating the Thunder) and Warriors (beating the 76ers) showed on the same night.
The Mavericks feel like less of a playoff threat, especially with their defensive concerns. They don’t have long to turn things around — and get into the postseason.
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Frustration rising within Mavericks, ‘We got to fight hard, play harder’ originally appeared on NBCSports.com