Mavericks Make Winning the Norm

The problem for the Dallas Mavericks is that winning has become the norm for the franchise with their 11th straight 50+ win season.

How can a track record of success stretching back more than a decade be a problem? Complacency can set in. When your team becomes accustomed to winning it can become harder to find the motivation to push the team harder and get them to perform to their absolute best for every game.

Head coach Rick Carlisle has taken to being openly critical of his team at one time even calling them soft following a 93-92 loss that saw the team blow a seven point lead in the final moments of the game.

"I think we've just got to be tougher," Carlisle said quietly. "Got to be tougher."

The team responded by destroying the Knicks the next night 127-109.However, his team proceeded to drop three of the next four, all against playoff bound teams, raising questions as to the intensity and desire of the team once again.

Dallas was able to get some of its swagger back with a five game winning streak(all against non-post season bound teams), the fifth a 106-100 win over the Clippers. Even though the game was close in the end, Carlisle did give many of his bench players significant time in the game.

While the move was likely to give many of his starters rest leading up to a game with the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night, Carlisle took the chance to remind his team that no one is completely untouchable in the line-up.

"We want there to be consistency with the rotation on one hand, but if guys aren’t doing their job, they’re going to get pulled," Carlisle said before the game. "We’ve got three guys at the end of our bench that are ready. We’ve got to be accountable down the stretch, because this is the time of year where you really need to shore things up."

The move did not end up meaning much though as the team only scored 31 points in the second half to 56 for the Lakers en route to a 109-82 blowout. Now with a record of 53-22 after the loss to the Lakers the Mavericks are shaping up to be no lower than the No 4 seed.

Their final stretch will not be an easy one though with games against playoff bound teams that are still trying to jockey for position (Portland and New Orleans) as well as the Denver Nuggets and a hungry Houston Rockets team making a last second playoff push.

As nice as the string of successful regular seasons are the team does have their eyes on the prize.

"We all know a championship is more important [than 50 wins]," guard Jason Kidd said.

The Mavericks are the fourth team in NBA history next to the San Antonio Spurs who are working on 12 season, the Lakers (12 from 1979-91), and the Boston Celtics (1958-68) to string together so many 50+ win seasons in a row. The big difference between them and the Mavericks—they have all won NBA titles.

"It means you're a good team," Carlisle said. "Beyond that, I'm not sure what else it means. I know there's been a great record of consistency for a long time with a winning team and that's substantial. But, it's not just about being good. It's about being great, so that's what we're thriving for."
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