DALLAS –Two home games in this young NBA season have resulted in two double-digit losses so far for the Dallas Mavericks.
It’s a trend that the Mavs hope will end tonight at 7:30 when they play host to the winless New Orleans Pelicans.
The Mavs dropped their home opener to Toronto (102-91) this past Tuesday, and then put on a much poorer performance two days later at home when they were blown out by the Charlotte Hornets (108-94). The home losses serve as an alarming situation for coach Rick Carlisle, who is now under contract through the 2021-’22 season after signing a five-year, $35 million extension on Thursday.
"We’ve played lousy these two home games,’’ Carlisle said after Saturday morning’s shootaround at American Airlines Center. "Playing at home is a serious proposition.
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"Our building is a situation where we’ve got to get our fans into it right from the beginning. We can’t rely on them.’’
The Mavs have sold out 556 consecutive home games dating back to Dec. 15, 2001. It’s the longest active sellout streak among the four major North American professional sports franchises.
But Carlisle knows if the Mavs don’t give the fans anything to cheer about, there probably won’t be any energy in the building for his team to feed off of.
Part of getting the fans involved comes from the Mavs’ ability to bust out of the gates with fire in their eyes. In both games against Toronto and Charlotte, the Mavs were outscored in each of those first quarters.
In fact, the only quarters the Mavs have won at home were the second quarters in each game against the Raptors and Hornets.
"Winning the first quarter is the best indicator for success in this league,’’ Carlisle said. "We’ve just got to have a much better start than we had the last couple of games.
"If you don’t win at home in this league you’re putting yourself up against it as far as trying to do anything – making the playoffs or anything else. We’ve got to play the full 48 (minutes) and we’ve got to do a better job than we’ve been doing.’’
Games like tonight are ones which will enhance the Mavs’ playoff chances, since the Pelicans limp into town as the Western Conference’s only winless team at 0-5. Still, in order to emerge victorious, the Mavs (2-3) must devise a strategic scheme to contain Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis, who towered for 43 points and 10 rebounds against Atlanta during Friday’s 121-115 loss to the Hawks.
"He’s a great player (and) he’s going to affect the game at both ends,’’ Carlisle said. "We’ve just got to try to make it difficult.
"Throw a lot of different guys at him, gear our entire five-man defense around making it hard on him without giving up other easy shots to other guys.’’
Certainly, the Mavs don’t want Davis repeating the dominant performance he turned in against the Hawks.
"Or if he gets his 43 and 10, don’t let anybody else do anything,’’ guard Wesley Matthews said. "But the challenge isn’t New Orleans – the challenge is us and who we want to be on the court tonight.
"We’ve got the ability and the talent and everything to be an elite team. It’s just a matter of putting it together for 48 minutes, and also know that we owe it to ourselves and we owe it to the fans and everybody.’’
After tonight, the Mavs hit the road to play the Pelicans again – Tuesday night in New Orleans. But first things first.
"Right now we’ve got to focus on tonight,’’ Carlisle said. "We’ve been playing poorly at home, they’re as desperate as a team can possibly be with their situation, and they’re banged up, too.
"They’re going to be extremely motivated and we’ve got to play better.’’
Dwain Price can be heard every Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. on dfwiradio.com.