The Dallas Mavericks once again bowed out of the playoffs early. There were plenty of excuses, some of them valid, but another season has come to a crashing halt.
Losing to the No. 2-seeded Rockets, 4-1, wasn’t much of a surprise. The Mavs had already lost their starting point guard and small forward before returning home for Game 3. And one of those losses (Chandler Parsons) actually hurt their chances.
The Mavs staved off elimination with an inspired effort in Game 4, but they were lucky to even keep it close Tuesday. Dirk Nowitzki had a dreadful shooting night (8-of-23) and couldn’t recapture the magic he discovered in Game 3. Though he had a strong April, he’s now a player in decline.
Too much was asked of him in this series because the only other semi-consistent scoring option was Monta Ellis, who had 25 points on 11-of-26 shooting. Ellis added seven assists and six turnovers. The Mavs were simply overmatched by a more talented and deeper Rockets team. Maybe Mark Cuban was a bit misguided in telling a Grantland writer a few weeks ago that Houston wasn’t a very good team. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle may have done well to simply make this a competitive series.
"When you look at what we’re missing – and I’m not making excuses, they beat us, they deserve the credit – but we traded a lot of pieces for a point guard that’s not with us right now and our big signee (Parsons) got hurt," Tyson Chandler told reporters at the Toyota Center. "Key parts. We were out there and we fought. But at the end of the day, we didn’t have enough."
The Mavs now face the prospect of Chandler Parsons missing the start of next season due to microfracture surgery. And there’s a chance they could lose Ellis in free agency, although he’d be wise to stay with Carlisle.
The Mavs thought the addition of Rajon Rondo might propel them to new heights, but the trade backfired in every way. Any slight gains on the defensive end were negated by his poor play on offense. He was an awful fit from the start and Carlisle will bear some of the blame for Rondo’s failure.
What the Mavs can’t do is blame too much of this season on injuries. It didn’t help that Parsons and guard Devin Harris entered the postseason with injuries, but having them at full-strength wouldn’t have guaranteed anything.
The Mavs are once again in the market for a starting point guard. And they’ll take a swing at local product LaMarcus Aldridge. But it’s not like local ties helped them with Chris Bosh or Deron Williams.
It used to be about building around Nowitzki. That time has passed. He can still be a valuable starter, but he can’t be asked to log big minutes at age 37. The Mavs will have to be very creative this offseason to even qualify for the playoffs next season.
And just like the past three seasons, a long playoff run won’t be a distraction.