Well, I’m glad that’s over. The Dallas Mavericks’ alarming 13-game winning streak came to an abrupt end on Saturday after a 128-94 thrashing by the Knicks (or should I say “David Lee and company”). While a run of that many games is certainly something worth league-wide appreciation, I’m of the ilk that it wasn’t all that special. Mr. Hollinger over at ESPN tends to agree with me, ranking the Mavericks only 14th in his most recent power rankings.
The main reason I scoff at the manifest significance of the streak is the sheer lack of difficulty of the Mavs’ schedule over the span — like, my high school team probably could have won about half those games. Seriously, though, the final seven games of the streak were against sub-.500 opponents at the time (the Bobcats are now three games over .500 after an also-impressive six-game winning spurt, but they have lost to the Nets twice this year. Really.). Now, I don’t mean to discount Dallas’s quality wins over the Suns, Magic, Lakers, and Hawks, but if you throw in one quality team to replace one of the powderpuff squads, and that streak may have only been six or seven.
You got lucky, babe
The Mavericks were fairly fortunate during the streak, too. Teams and key players (read Kobe) underperformed, letting Dallas come away with wins it didn’t deserve. I remember reading that this was the longest winning streak in history in which a team never defeated an opponent by double digits — and I really don’t think that was a coincidence. Take, for instance, the Mavericks’ win over the Bobcats, 89-84, in Charlotte, where MJ’s team is an astonishing 24-8. Charlotte shot only 39 percent from the field (compared to its season average of 45 percent), and would have won if not for a paltry 31 points in the second half. Against the Lakers, Kobe had an off night, shooting 9-23, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol took only 17 shots combined (compared to their usual 23), and the team shot only 29 percent from deep. It’s another game the Mavericks won (101-96) that they should have lost. Don’t forget about an unimpressive three-point win over the 29th-best Timberwolves and an equally subpar nine-point victory over the Nets that had the Mavericks down 33-14 after the first period and and up by only two with under four minutes to play.
The Kidd is hot tonight
Dallas would never have been so successful during this 13-game stretch if not for the unusually shining performance of Mr. Jason Kidd. The dude outdid his season averages in most categories, notably: minutes (38 vs. 36), points (14 vs. 10), rebounds (7 vs. 5.5), assists (10.3 vs. 9.3), steals (2.4 vs. 1.9), and three-point percentage (44% vs. 42%). He even put up a line (19 points, 16 rebounds, 17 assists) against the Hawks that was the only one of its kind (15+ points, 15+ rebounds, and 15+ assists) since Kidd last did it in 1996. Before that, the last guy to do it was some guy named Magic.
There you have it. Sure, the Mavericks are a great team and figure to be in the top three in the Western Conference. And I may just be a tad bitter with regard to the Mavericks’ recent success given that the Nets have their first-round pick in the draft this year. But truly, the streak wasn’t all that much to write home about. To prove they’re a truly elite team, they’ll have to show me when it counts, and not melt down like they have so many times in the past.