The Dallas Mavericks had the opportunity to play on Christmas Day in what was an exciting slate of NBA games. Although shorthanded, the 15-point underdogs nearly pulled out a victory over the Utah Jazz.
With this loss, the Mavs have now lost four of their last five games and fall to 15-17 on the season. This puts them two games below .500 and seventh in the Western Conference.
Dallas was without ten of their primary players on Christmas Day, missing guys primarily due to health and safety protocols but also injury and non-COVID illness.
Donovan Mitchell was too much for the Mavericks, who finished with 33 points on the night. Although they were heavy underdogs, it was impressive to see the Mavs take the game down to the wire.
At the end of the night, Utah won by a final score of 120-116.
What went wrong on Christmas Day for the Mavs?
The Jazz have one of the most dominant centers in the league in Rudy Gobert. On both ends of the floor, he’s able to control games in the paint.
On the night, he finished with ten points and 11 rebounds in an impressive double-double.
This led to Utah winning the battle on the glass with 49 rebounds to Dallas’ 45. Additionally, the Jazz outscored the Mavs 52 to 32 when it came to points in the paint.
Jalen Brunson was the best player on the floor for the Mavs, finishing with 27 points and six assists.
“Guys are playing hard, we put ourselves in a position there late against one of the best teams in the league,” said Mavs coach Jason Kidd postgame. “I thought the guys in the locker room fought until the end. Again, those guys believe in that locker room that they can win.”
Regardless of who the Mavericks have put on the floor over the past week or two, they’ve played hard and kept most games very competitive.
What needs to happen in Dallas to turn the season around and start winning games?
Given the circumstances, the Mavericks shouldn’t be expected to win many games. With a depleted roster, they should be expected to struggle.
With that in mind, nearly every team around the league is facing similar issues. With more players in the NBA entering health and safety protocols, most rosters around the league temporarily look a lot different than they did on opening night.
If Dallas is going to turn things around, it starts with getting healthy. What’s hurt them most is the absence of Luka Doncic. The team’s best player, he’s missed time recently with both an injury and due to entering health and safety protocols.
The last time Doncic played a game was over two weeks ago. Surprisingly, the Mavs have gone 3-4 without him in the lineup, which is better than many would have expected.
During this strange time, the Mavericks and other teams around the league have been able to sign players to fill out their respective rosters. Dallas has signed a handful of players, and may have found a piece or two that could get a real chance at making the full-time roster.
Both Marquese Chriss and Theo Pinson have been solid during their short time as Mavericks. However, roster decisions would have to be made for them to be on the team for the remainder of the 2021-22 campaign.
As the season goes on, there’s less time to just wait around to get healthy. However, with so many teams floating around .500 the Mavs could easily end up being a top-five team in the Western Conference if they can get healthy and figure things out in the next few weeks.