Usually I get into the office about 5-10 minutes before start time. I don’t talk to anyone because my brain isn’t functioning at 100% and if anyone calls me within the first 30 minutes, I’m praying that they don’t have any difficult questions for me. So like most of you, I bolt for the coffee, Mountain Dew, or energy drinks to fix this problem. After the first few sips I’m back and ready for my day.
………I apologize in advance for this cliché transition…….
This years Mavs team has been a shot of life to the franchise and the city of Dallas. In moments throughout the first few games of the year I’ve caught myself expecting something bad to happen; either a stall in the offense or a defensive lapse with the mindset that this is the same ole Mavs (minus the 2011 season of course). When Portland was beating us with prayer shots with the shot clock expiring, I was thinking “oh here we go.” But then I have to remind myself that this is a completely different team. This team is scrappy, they hustle, and they all have something to prove. The proved it again on Monday with a 114-91 win over the Trailblazers.
One of the only problems so far this season has been the rebounding both defensively and offensively. Last night vs. Portland the Mavs were dominated on the glass. Portland had 23 offensive rebounds that resulted in too many chance points. But this year’s team seems to make up for its lack of rebounding, minus the Utah game, with making shots and key defensive stops. Late in the 3rd quarter last night there was a series of plays where the Mavs were missing bad shots, but would buckle down on the defensive end even after giving up offensive rebounds. One of these defensive plays, you might recall, was when Marion beautifully blocked a shot from Lillard. The block resulted in a Mayo 3 pointer to end the wheels-off series of possessions and also a loud “Yes!” from myself that woke up my 1 year old.
Speaking of OJ Mayo, he ended the night with 32 points. He dropped 30 points two nights previous vs. the Bobcats making this the first time since his rookie season that he scored 30 or more in consecutive games. I’d say he’s filling in nicely for Jason Terry.
Darren Collison scored 14 points with 13 assists. In this year’s season player preview, we talked about Collison having to improve on his assist totals in order to keep this machine running; so far so good. Collison has been the motor of this team with his dribble penetration that creates shots for himself and others. He’s got the gas/speed and the assist is the oil. Collison has been the main contributing factor to this early success.
EARLY success is the key. This Mavs team is so new that teams will learn to scout them more effectively as the season progresses. But from what I see so far, this years Mavs team is so diverse that focusing on a certain player may be the demise of the opponent. If a teams perimeter defense is slowing down Mayo or Collison, just send it down to Kaman or Branden Wright, they’re on fire right now as both are in the top 5 of the league if FG percentage. If an opponent has a solid center controlling the paint, then set Kaman or B Wright up at the elbow for an open jumper, they’ve been falling for our big men. Mavs shot over 60% for the second consecutive game. We can’t expect that every night but if we keep moving the ball like we have and creating wide open shots, 50% shooting is completely possible on a regular basis.
We also have one of the deepest benches in the league, potentially the best. Veterans like Vince Carter and Troy Murphy. Murphy still finding his way offensively but has been one of our best rebounders in his first 2 games. Then we have the rookie sensation, Jae Crowder and the defensive stopper Dahntay Jones. And who is this Dominique Jones!! He’s been great filling in for the injured Roddy B. He’s still struggling with his jump shot but he’s been a force on defense. He’s also made some great moves to get to the basket to create contact and make lay ups.
”In the offseason, the Mavericks lost some good players, but we also got some good players. I think some underrated players,” Kaman said. ”Some guys can really score the basketball on this team and are very creating, starting with Darren and O.J.”
This new roster has been a shot of life to the entire roster. Players like Marion and Vince Carter are feeding off of the new guy’s energy. Most importantly, this is all happening without Dirk. I think we’re all drooling over the potential of having him back on the court and seeing how much the floor opens up. We all know how unselfish Dirk is; so when he’s back he’ll encourage other guys to step up throughout the game. The possibilities are endless.
Mavs stand at 3-1 with the Toronto Raptors coming to the AAC on Wednesday. Marion hurt his knee on Monday night so I expect him to sit out and rest for Friday’s game at Madison Square Garden vs. the Knicks. He’ll be needed to shut down Carmelo.
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