As Luka Doncic Practices, 2 Mavs-As-Contenders Numbers - One Scary, One Sickening

Mike Fisher

DALLAS - The Dallas Mavericks have Luka Doncic back at practice today, and they have post-buyout signee Michael Gilchrist in his workout uniform as well. It all figures to give the Mavs' overall numbers a boost, but ...

“I’m ready,'' Doncic said. "I’ll try. I’m just excited to be back out there, just playing basketball.''

Yeah, but ... While the Mavs boast one number of which this rebuilt franchise and its fan should be button-busting proud - their 32-22 record puts them well ahead of most any expected schedule.

And Luka coming back following seven games sidelined with his ankle injury might just give Dallas (3-4 during that time) the impetus to get back ahead-of-schedule again.

"Positive'' and "hopeful'' were the words Rick used for Luka, the second-year star who is averaging almost a triple-double with 28.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists per game.

Dallas went just 3-4 without Doncic in the starting lineup as he sat out with the ankle injury. He was squarely in the MVP race before suffering yet another ankle injury.

Carlisle also said lovely things today about Kidd-Gilchrist, the former No. 2 overall pick who fell out of favor in Charlotte might at 26 could still have some defensive "sic-'em'' in him. Rick called him "a helluva defender.''

And MKG's early offering: "It's great to be part of a winning culture,'' he said.

But now to the other numbers, one scary, one sickening.

Scary? Dallas' record against current West playoff teams is an abysmal 4-10. (Overall, the Mavs are 12-15 vs. all current playoff teams from both conferences with 14 more to come after the All-Star Break.)There are eight more such games vs. the West to come after the All-Star Break ... but all-in-all, that's not very promising.

Sickening? The Mavs are but a .500 team at home following Monday's disappointing AAC failure against Utah. “Embarrassing,'' Tim Hardaway Jr. termed it. The record is 14-14 at the AAC. That is a foreboding number for a club that figures to make the playoffs, but not be in the top four, and must therefore grab every possible edge, starting Wednesday when the seventh-seeded Mavs host the non-contending Kings.

Being able to beat playoffs teams would be an edge. Being able to win at home would be, too. Something's gotta change - something bigger, even than Luka Doncic returning.