For the first 50 games of the season, rebounding was not an issue for the Mavericks.
They had DeAndre Jordan and could lean on him for 14 rebounds or more every game. It was almost automatic.
Then, the trade happened and Jordan went to New York and the Mavericks suddenly were back in a familiar position of not being a very good rebounding team.
For three games, they preached a rebound-by-committee approach and it worked. They held their own on the boards and won two of three.
But the last four games before the All-Star break exposed their new weak link. And it’s a huge part of why they finished the pre-All-Star portion of the season losing three of those four games.
The Mavericks have been outrebounded by more than nine boards per game in those last four. The only win they got in that stretch was a one-point come-from-behind victory they eked out against Portland – a game in which they were outrebounded 48-39.
This is a trend that cannot continue if the Mavericks want to make a run at .500 or more after the extended All-Star break. Remember, last season, when they finished 24-58, they were consistently outrebounded? That’s what the last few games have looked like.
“We have to do it a little differently now,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “And I know we can. But it’s going to take work.”
This also is an area that is going to need attention during the offseason. Even with Luka Doncic and the potential of pairing him with the incoming Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks will need help, particularly in the rebounding and shooting departments.
But that’s a need that can’t be addressed until the offseason.
In the meantime, the Mavericks looked like a team that needed a break in the final games, particularly on Wednesday when they faded badly in the second half in an 11-point home loss to Miami, which came into the game with a worse record than the Mavericks, but left with a better one by half a game.
At 26-31, the Mavericks are as close to 14th place than eighth place in the Western Conference. When they return from the break, they have a home game against Denver, which has the second-best record in the West.
After that, it’s five of seven on the road. So the need to rest up for the next few days before returning to practice on Wednesday is imperative.
Clearly, they have a lot of work to do. Solving the recent rebounding woes would give them a fighting chance to make up ground on .500.