January is almost over, so this whole “Be Positive” pledge is fading fast, and the way the Dallas Mavericks are playing is not helping this latest doomed New Year’s resolution.
The Mavs have lost four consecutive games, this time most recently with a nice gag job in Houston against the Rockets. The NBA’s Western Conference is so over-loaded with quality teams ugly skids are going to happen, but it is the way this team continues to lose is most troubling, and will be a quick ticket out of the playoffs. And the Mavs will make the playoffs.
“We are playing good basketball but not great. We have bright spots but it’s not full time and we need to be full time,” Mavs center Tyson Chandler told me this when I asked him how he would characterize the type of basketball his team is playing. “That’s why we get cases of we beat really good teams, we beat great teams, and we fall to a team I feel like we shouldn’t lose to.”
The recently (justified) focus of the Mavs is on the effects of the trade for Rajon Rondo, but he cannot fix what is happening on the glass. Tyson Chandler cannot grab every single rebound, although he is trying. Chandler ranks fourth in the NBA in rebounding at 12 per game. Of the NBA’s top 10 individual rebounders, Chandler averages the third fewest minutes among those players. And at 31.1 minutes per game, that is about two minutes more than Mavs coach Rick Carlisle wants his center playing.
But Carlisle has to because no one else is rebounding. The Mavericks as a team rank 22nd in the NBA in rebounding, and are a minus-3.3 differential per game.
There are reports the Mavs will soon sign veteran forward Jermaine O’Neal, who now lives in Southlake, and he would spell Tyson Chandler for 10 to 12 minutes per night. The current players have to help more than they are on the boards.
“Put it on myself to go get more and continue to encourage (his teammates) to get down there,” Chandler said. “Each one of us, including myself, has to do a little bit better.”
He is being nice. Twelve boards a game from your center is wonderful. No other Mavs player averages more than six boards per game. That’s pathetic.
Chandler Parsons averages just 4.6 rebounds per game, about half a rebound less than his career average. Dirk Nowitzki averages six rebounds per game this season, or two fewer than his career average.
There is no way this team can think it can contend for a title and rebounding remain this much of an issue. When the playoffs begin, and the pace is shorter and everything is tighter, a rebound changes everything. How Carlisle, a passionate needler for rebounding, is tolerating this demonstrates how much patience he has.
“We need everyone to pitch in more on the board,” he said.
I asked him if rebounding is simply a matter of effort.
“It has a lot do with persistence and a mindset of pursuit of the ball by all five guys on the floor,” he said. “That’s where we just have to make progress. We have to get everybody involved on every single possession.”
Carlisle, and Chandler, are convinced the Mavs have the roster to rebound, but it would be nice if they actually did it or this whole “Be Positive” resolution is going to die much quicker than it usually does.