The old saying tells us that those who pay no mind to history are destined to repeat it.
If that’s the case, the Mavericks need to put on their blinders, ignore the past and hope for a little deja vu.
The last time they got whipsawed by the New York Knicks, 108-85 in January, they came back to win five of their next six games, with two victories against Memphis included.
On Wednesday, they got buried 107-77 by the Knicks at American Airlines Center. Everybody is writing it off as just one of those nights where shots wouldn’t fall and the Knicks could do no wrong.
“I think just our energy,” coach Jason Kidd said. “We didn’t have fight there to start. But shooting wasn’t very good. We talked about it before the game. We have some guys shooting the ball extremely well.
“You can’t have them all go cold at once and everybody did. It happens. That’s why you play 82 games.”
That sort of attitude served them well the last time they were in this situation.
The only difference is that the schedule is a little less friendly this time after the Knicks’ fiasco.
The Mavericks are starting a five-game road trip on Friday at Houston and the degree of difficulty after that game would make Simone Biles shudder. While the cellar-dwelling Rockets offer a nice starting spot, the trip quickly gets nasty with visits to red-hot Boston, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Charlotte – all competing for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference.
When the Mavericks return to AAC on March 21 against Minnesota, they’ll have a much better idea of whether they are fighting for a home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs or to avoid the play-in tournament.
They have two games in five days later this month against Minnesota, which is in seventh place in the Western Conference. The seventh through 10th positions in each conference will be part of the play-in tournament.
The goal would be to return from this five-game trip with at least the same 2 ½-game lead on the Timberwolves as the Mavericks presently enjoy.
With that note of encouragement, here’s our takeaways from the rough night against New York.
IT’S JUST A BLIP (HOPEFULLY): The Mavericks were a subpar shooting team for the first two months of the season. But since the calendar turned to 2022, they have been as good as anybody at making shots, particularly 3-pointers. Against the Knicks, they were 6-of-44 from 3-point range. For now, we have to treat this as an aberration, just one of those nights where nothing went in. If they come back with a better shooting eye on the upcoming road trip, all will be forgiven and forgotten.
TECHNICALLY SPEAKING: The concern level is barely flicking the needle when it comes to Luka Dončić and his technical fouls. He picked up his 14th of the season Wednesday. Or did he? Luka said the team plans to challenge the tech, but even if it isn’t rescinded (as one was last month), he’s not worried about reaching the suspension threshold. Neither is coach Kidd. “He has plenty of room,” Kidd said. “The season’s almost over. So he’ll start anew. He’s fine.” In addition, Luka said he’s not overly concerned about a sore back that he woke up with on Wednesday. “It was hurting when I woke up,” he said. “It was like a pinch, but it will get better.”
OUT OF CHARACTER: The Mavericks had only 10 assists, a season-low. That’s what happens when you don’t make many shots. “We might have overdribbled a little, but we had great looks,” Kidd said. Everybody involved was willing to chalk this one up to a rough night at the office, nothing more.
LOOKING AHEAD: Technically, the Mavericks have three five-game road trips this season. One of them was broken up by the All-Star break (two road games before, three after). They went 4-1 in that stretch. They went 3-2 on the trip that started Christmas Day in Utah. So the goal on this trip that starts at Houston Friday, then skirts the East Coast? “To come back over .500 (for the trip),” Kidd said.
STRANGE SCHEDULE: The Mavericks have a schedule that is backloaded with road games against the Eastern Conference. Eight of their remaining 10 roadies are against East teams. They are done with the East at AAC, going 9-6 against them.
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