Dirk Nowitzki on Mavericks as contenders: ‘We haven’t beaten the good teams’

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The Mavericks began the season on a blistering offensive pace, and still lead the league in efficiency on that end of the floor.

But after a loss to the Warriors on Saturday dropped them to 0-6 against Western Conference playoff teams to this point in the season, the team’s status as potential contenders has been called into question.

Losing to the Warriors in a game that featured an odd afternoon start time is no reason to panic; after all, Golden State is riding a 15-game winning streak, while playing a level of defense far above anyone else that has helped the Warriors get off to a ridiculous 20-2 start to the season.

Even so, the fact that Dallas has been unable to hang with the league’s best teams is starting to get noticed.

From Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas:

“We’re right there, but we haven’t beaten the good teams,” power forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “We’ve got to turn that around pretty quick. ‘Right there’ is just not good enough.” …

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” guard Devin Harris said. “We’re beating the teams we’re supposed to, but we need to elevate the team as a whole. We need to grow as a team.”

Of greater concern to the Mavericks should be that they’ve stumbled a bit against the bad teams, as well.

Dallas suffered an embarrassing home loss to the Pacers, and needed overtime to beat a Knicks team playing without Carmelo Anthony two days later. The Mavericks have also suffered losses to the Rockets (who were without Dwight Howard at the time), and to a struggling Suns team that is just 12-12 thus far.

There’s a ton of time left for them to figure things out, obviously, but the West is insanely stacked this year. Dallas has won 68 percent of its games, but finds itself sitting at just seventh in the standings.

Oklahoma City is going to be coming for one of those eight playoff spots, and Dallas at some point is going to need to start beating the good teams in order to make sure the Mavericks aren’t the ones who the Thunder eventually knock out.