As good as the Mavericks have been – and they’ve exceeded any and all expectations – they still woke up Wednesday with eight teams in the NBA owning better records than theirs.
But when you factor in that the Mavericks were 6-5 in mid-November, the fact that they are only a game behind the teams with the third-best record in the league is impressive.
Especially so, Rick Carlisle said, because the Mavericks are getting a taste of how the best teams in the league live on a daily basis.
“We’ve been getting a lot of people’s best game – a lot,” Carlisle said before the Mavericks played Minnesota Wednesday. “Our team’s gotten a certain amount of attention, probably because of the big trade last year and KP (Kristaps Porzingis) starting the season and he hadn’t played in a while. There was a lot of attention on Luka (Doncic) because of the year he had last year.
“But, hey, the key thing is we just got to stay in the mode of preparing to play every single game. And stay humble. It’s possible (with big wins) to start thinking you’re better than you are. You can’t do that. We’ve all been humbled too many times.”
In other words, the Mavericks better get used to seeing silver-bullet efforts from their opponents. Whether they are lottery-bound teams or elite title contenders, teams will not be overlooking the Mavericks now that they have announced themselves as a member of the haves after three seasons with the have-nots.
Let’s talk football: One Maverick has a dog in the hunt when it comes to the Football Bowl Subdivision national championship.
Delon Wright went to college at Utah and the Utes are ranked sixth in the College Football Playoff rankings and it’s not a reach to think they’ll jump into the top four if they beat Oregon Friday in the Pac-12 championship game.
“First, they have to take care of beating Oregon, and whatever happens after that happens,” Wright said. “It’ll be really special for Utah. Historically, they’ve always had some good teams, when Urban Meyer was there and even after he left we still had some good teams. It would be good for us to sneak in there.”
Wright, who played for the Utes from 2013-15, stays in contact with some of the staffers that still are at Utah.
And he’s a realist. He knows that even a win over Oregon doesn’t guarantee the Utes will move into the playoff.
“I feel like they’ll try to jump Oklahoma over us,” Wright said. “But I feel if they do that, it sends a bad message to all the Pac-12 teams and other teams that worked their tails off all year. To have another team jump over them just because of the name of the school – we just need to beat Oregon and let the chips fall. I’ll be watching.”
Keeping one’s chin up: Over the three games before Wednesday, Kristaps Porzingis had scored 24 points and shot 7-of-30 from the field.
That 8.0 scoring average during that span was well below what Porzingis expects out of himself, although he’s been a force defensively, averaging better than 8 rebounds and nearly three blocks per game during that stretch.
Coach Rick Carlisle said there really isn’t a lot to manage with Porzingis when it comes to making sure his spirits remain high.
“He sees in the big picture where he continues to progress in a lot of ways,” Carlisle said. “Always keeping an eye on the ball with him is the important thing. Statistically, everybody’s going to have ups and downs. Everybody is.
“I don’t think he’s depressed. We’re talking to all our guys all the time. One of the things I really admire about KP, especially in the last week to 10 days, is that there have been some games when shots haven’t fallen and he just kind of kept playing and he maintains a very strong presence defensively, regardless of what’s happening on offense.”