The Mavericks have nearly two-thirds of this season done.
They have an outstanding 18-8 road record and an outlandish 14-13 home record.
With two home games left before the All-Star break, now would be a good time to draw a line on that home floor and start protecting American Airlines Center.
It might be too late to become a feared home team. To paraphrase the saying, they are what they are.
But here’s what the home-road discrepancy boils down to: if you’re going to be really good at one or the other, you’d rather be a beast on the road.
Teams that roll up big home records – one look at the standings will tell you who they are – but stumble badly on the road set off alarms when it comes to where they really rate in the NBA hierarchy. Take Philadelphia for example. They are 23-2 at home (with one of the losses to the Mavericks). But they are 9-19 on the road, which is one reason why analysts are skeptical about their chances come playoff time.
Battle-hardened teams on the road tend to be given a little more credibility.
The Mavericks have that on the road, although they are not alone. Four Western Conference teams have better records on the road than at home.
If you face the fact that the Mavericks are going to have to win on the road to make any noise in the playoffs, then their performances in away games have been one of the best reasons to believe in this team.
Maybe they will eventually figure it out at home. But either way, they have beaten both good and not-so-good teams on the road. They have no fear on the road.
That’s a great trait.
Coach Rick Carlisle identified the most important variable in the home-road discrepancy during the two-game trip east, which ended in a split after the Mavericks beat the Hornets on Saturday. These few days before the break are more about getting the team right than anything else – other than winning, of course.
Luka Doncic has missed six games with a sprained right ankle. Kristaps Porzingis has been rested in certain situations and, so far, when that’s happened, the Mavericks have won and Porzingis has come back stronger.
“The important thing now is to work on our health going into the break and do everything we can to win some games,” Carlisle said. “Our hope is he (Doncic) will be able to play before the break. That’s the hope. Not definite, but we’re hopeful.”
The Mavericks are 11-11 overall since Dec. 29. They are 6-5 on the road in that stretch.
“We’ve got to figure it out,” said J.J. Barea. “On the road, it’s like we have an us-against-the-world mentality. We need to get that at home, too.”
Briefly: Monday will be the day that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist clears waivers. The Mavericks have been rumored as a possible destination for the 6-6 forward. But to sign him after he clears waivers, they would need to waive a player . . . The Mavericks got back to Dallas early Sunday morning and got a well-deserved rest day after playing six games in nine nights . . . Ryan Broekhoff had a career-best nine rebounds in the win over Charlotte.