One important item on every NBA team’s checklist is going all-out to secure home-court advantage in the playoffs.
That’s done by building a dominating record at home. So far, the Dallas Mavericks aren’t doing too well in that department.
Heading into Saturday’s game against the Washington Wizards at American Airlines Center, the Mavs are a disappointing 5-4 at home. They are a respectable 8-6 on the road. At 13-10, Dallas is sixth in the Western Conference, two spots from home court in the postseason.
So, why the missteps at home for a team with high playoff aspirations?
“The truth is we’ve just got to get things turned around here,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I could give you a lot of theoretical reasons, but we’ve just got to make it happen.”
The Mavs’ losses at home have come against Toronto, Charlotte, Houston, and Wednesday against Atlanta.
Chandler Parsons said the Mavs are still trying to figure out how to make their home court a haven for them and a beast for opponents.
“I think when teams go on the road and be in the different environments, it’s kind of us-against-them mentality, and we kind of embrace being the villain,” Parsons said. “We have to somehow translate that over to when we’re playing here.
“We’ve got a great crowd, and obviously the goal is to have home-court advantage in the playoffs. So for us to do that and to want that, we’ve got to play great at home, we’ve got to win games like Wednesday night. You should always protect your home court.”
The Mavs were 27-14 at home last season, which was the worst home record among the eight teams that advanced to the Western Conference playoffs.
“As a team we’ve just got to decide that the home-court threat is a priority,” Carlisle said. “So we’ve got two games left on this homestand to get it right.”
The last time the Mavs got out of the first round of the playoffs was in 2011 against Portland when they had home-court advantage.
“Any expectation of any NBA team that a game in their arena is going to be easy just because they’re at home is foolhardy,” Carlisle said. “And so we’ve got to make it happen. It’s as simple as that.”
If shooting guard Wesley Matthews can duplicate what he did Sunday against the Wizards, the Mavs are almost assured of a home win. In that game, Matthews tied his career high in points (36) and tied his personal high and the Mavs’ franchise record in 3-pointers made (10).
“Honestly, I was shooting the same shots that I’ve been shooting,” said Matthews, who made 10 of 17 3-point attempts against the Wizards. “They were just falling that night.
“They were double-teaming Dirk [Nowitzki]; they play that small ball. So every time we threw it to Dirk they double-teamed and when the ball was flying around the perimeter it was finding me.”
It turned out to be a great find for Matthews and the Mavs, who are hoping for similar results Saturday against the Wizards.
“The important thing is for all of our guys just to go into the game with the idea that hard play and simple executions is going to lead to the right things,” Carlisle said. “The reason nights like that happen is that you stay the course and keep doing what you’re doing and you work.”
The NBA family lost two former players on consecutive days.
Hall of Fame center Dolph Schayes, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer six months ago, died Thursday at the age of 87.
And John “Hot Rod’ Williams, who finished his career with the Dallas Mavericks in 1999, died Friday at the age of 53 due to prostate cancer.
“I played against him, and I was always an admirer of his game,” Carlisle said of Williams. “I thought he was a good guy; he played hard. That’s extremely disappointing to hear that a guy dies that young.”
Carlisle considered Schayes a friend.
“I worked Dolph Schayes’ camps a couple of years and I actually played in some pickup games with him on outdoor courts at his camp in Central New York back in the late ’70s,” Carlisle said. “He was a great pioneer of the game.
“One year he had a broken right wrist and played the entire NBA season left-handed and made the All-Star team. He was a friend of mine and I’m very, very sorry to see him pass.’’
The Mavericks’ home record since their 2010-11 NBA championship season: