DALLAS -- If you were stunned by this offensive stinker, you must not have watched the Mavs much this season.
This has been a bad offensive team since the day the defending champions -- might as well use that term while we can -- reported to the American Airlines Center for an abbreviated training camp.
Dallas’ decision makers anticipated that it would be a difficult process to fit in a few significant new pieces without much practice time, but the hope was that the Mavs would mesh throughout the course of this lockout-condensed season and be prepared to peak in the playoffs.
With the season on the line, the Mavs managed to come up with one of their worst offensive showings, shooting 34.2 percent from the floor in Thursday’s 95-79 loss that put Dallas on the verge of being swept by the Thunder.
“Just picked a bad time to really put a stinker out there,” said Dirk Nowitzki, who had 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting. “Nobody really had a good game for us. They took it to us on the other end. We picked a tough time to really get nothing going on the offensive end.”
That’s happened a heck of a lot this season, which is why the Mavs ranked 22nd among NBA teams in offensive efficiency. To put that in perspective, the Boston Celtics are the only playoff team that was less efficient offensively than the Mavs.
The versatile pieces that Mark Cuban and Co. expected to make Dallas a more dynamic offensive team haven’t panned out. Lamar Odom provided plenty of drama and precious little production. Vince Carter faded after the All-Star break and has really struggled in this series, making only nine of 31 shots from the floor.
The Mavs’ big guns have had off seasons by their standards. Nowitzki’s numbers are his worst since his second season in Dallas, before the Mavs’ run of a dozen playoff appearances in a row. Jason Terry’s stats are his worst in his eight-season Dallas tenure.
When one of those guys struggles, it’s tough for the Mavs to win. When they’re both off, it’s bound to get ugly.
That was the case in Game 3, when Nowitzki was bad and Terry was worse (11 points, 3-of-10 shooting, four turnovers).
“They played great defense all night long on Dirk and myself,” Terry said. “We’ve got to find a way. I think our offensive strategy right now is pretty much predicated on pass the ball around and see what happens. I don’t think that’s a good strategy for us.”
He’ll get no argument from coach Rick Carlisle: “I’ve got to do a better job of helping those guys. That’s something I really take responsibility for.”
Carlisle said something about watching film and trying to get this fixed. The truth is it’s too late for this season, and there’s a good chance Terry is gone next year.
If the Mavs want to get back to being a good offensive team, they better catch their big fish in the free-agency market.
For the sake of Dallas’ recruiting efforts, let’s hope Deron Williams was too busy to watch Game 3.