Game 38 Preview: Mavericks Target Timberwolves

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Game 38 Preview: Mavericks Target Timberwolves

After dropping Friday night’s game in Milwaukee against a Bucks team that has been one of the league’s most disappointing teams this year, Dallas looks to bounce back and safe to say dropping a second consecutive against a 12-25 Timberwolves team would be a big negatory.

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Game 26 Preview: Two Surprise Teams Meet

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Game 26 Preview: Two Surprise Teams Meet

Entering this season, both the Dallas Mavericks and Indiana Pacers were expected to take steps backward. Neither team had committed to a rebuild and nobody considered either a serious threat to make noise in 2016. But here we are with such a year right on the horizon, and both the Mavericks and Pacers are poised to make Playoff appearances.

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Game 24 Recap: Mavericks Hit Brick Wall

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Game 24 Recap: Mavericks Hit Brick Wall

The Mavericks had never lost on this night of Military Appreciation until last season. They lost again tonight, now 9-2 on this special evening. I wish I could talk more about the brave men and women, but I’m here to talk about the Mavericks, and they were pathetic tonight.

 

Pathetic.

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Game 24 Preview: Mavericks Welcome Washington

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Game 24 Preview: Mavericks Welcome Washington

Of their 13-10 (The Ticket?) record, the Mavs have played seven games against the Eastern Conference. The Mavericks have feasted on the East for well over a decade now –including 21-9 last year– but this season has told a tale they would prefer to see fixed. Or at the very least reversed.

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Mavericks Game 22 Preview: #DirkZingis

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Mavericks Game 22 Preview: #DirkZingis

“The basket looked like the ocean to me.” 

 

Compared to the barren wasteland that basket has been for Wes, last night’s three point barrage was quite the sight for sore eyes. The “Iron Man” hit 10 three-pointers, tying George McCloud for the franchise record (NBA record is 12), and now the Mavericks pack their bags to take the short trip from D.C. to New York.

 

Through his first 18 games (two nights of rest), the Mavericks max contract investment was shooting just 30.8% percent from three point range. Hitting two a night is great, but on six and a half attempts isn’t going to get it done. This wasn’t who Wesley Matthews was nor is.

 

A game after declaring “I suck right now,” Wesley Matthews backed up his words in historical fashion. 10-17 from three, that’s badass. Several arrows flung into the rafters of the Verizon Center were an extremely pleasurable sight.

 

With little time to celebrate, as I doubt the team is doing much of after a regular season win over a Washington Wizards team that started Jared Dudley and Ryan Hollins at the 4 and 5, Dallas heads to Madison Square Garden to face the New York Knicks.

 

Always a team attached to high profiles and big storylines, the ones surrounding the Knicks have surprisingly very little to do with Carmelo Anthony. It’s all about #Knickstaps, “The Zinger,” “GodZingis,” which should all be in Webster’s soon before long.

 

Drafted 4th this past Summer, Knicks fans immediately hated the pick of “the foreign guy with potential.” Even Carmelo Anthony was ‘frustrated.’ Whoops.

 

They should have listened to yours truly. In my NBA Preview that you read, I said of Knicks draft pick Kristaps Porzingis

“I’m totally team #Knickstaps. Book it, he’s going to be really, really good.”

Considering how brutally wrong I usually am, I might toot my own horn a bit on this one. Toot. Sorry, farted.

 

The 20-year old Porzingis has been so good that he’s earned all those nicknames above, was the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for November and even the flip-floppy Knicks fans love him now!

 

In his first 21 games, the rookie from Liepaja, Latvia is averaging 14 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks a game. The last 20-year old to put up comparable numbers…Shaquille O’Neal. He also adds a three-pointer a game on 35%.

 

So he’s a foreign prospect who can shoot it. You can guess who he’s being compared to…Dirk Nowitzki. Even though his pogo stick game and frame remind me more of a young Kevin Garnett (how dare I cross-race compare?!) it will still be crazy fun to see Nowitzki and Porzingis face off for the first time tonight at the Garden.

 

Injury Report:

 

Mavericks:

J.J. Barea (ankle) questionable

Devin Harris (rib) questionable

Dwight Powell (knee) questionable

 

Knicks:

Carmelo Anthony (knee) questionable

 

Leaders:

 

Points:

Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki, 17.5

Knicks: Carmelo Anthony, 21.7

Rebounds:

Mavericks: Zaza Pachulia, 10 (9th in NBA; 12 Double-Doubles is 3rd)

Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis, 9.2 (Tie-13th in NBA; 10 Double-Doubles is Tied for 5th)

Assists:

Mavericks: Deron Williams, 6

Knicks: Jose Calderon, 3.8

Steals:

Mavericks: Deron Williams, 1.4

Knicks: Langston Galloway, 1.1

Blocks:

Mavericks: Dwight Powell, 0.8

Knicks: Kristaps Porzingis, 1.9 (Tie-7th in NBA)

 

How To Watch It:

 

6:30 PM CST on Fox Sports Southwest

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Mavericks Game 18 Preview: When You Quit and Then Get Paid

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Mavericks Game 18 Preview: When You Quit and Then Get Paid

The Dallas Mavericks (10-7) went all in last season. That’s good, right? Of course you want your team to do whatever it takes to win an NBA Championship. Of course. However, they invested in the wrong guy. Not because he’s a problem for whatever Coach he plays for…at any level. Not because he can’t shoot. Not because he’s a ball-dominant guard and fit horrendously alongside Monta Ellis.

Because he quit.

There was no “back injury.” He quit. Rajon Rondo was a god awful investment and he quit on our Mavericks.

 

On April 22nd Rick Carlisle said Rajon Rondo “won’t wear a Mavericks jersey again” after Rondo picked up two fouls and a technical just 34 seconds into the second half of Game 2 against the Houston Rockets. Yeah, a playoff game. He quit.

 

The #@$% quit.

 

The “I Hate You” tour started with DeAndre Jordan and the Los Angeles Clippers, now it moves on to the Sacramento Kings (6-12). Of course Mavericks fans will get their cracks at him in person on January 5th, but tonight is the first time that Rajon Rondo will face off against the Mavs after literally walking away from the team.

 

In 46 games with the Mavs, Rondo averaged 9.3 points, 6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds. Not terrible numbers, but not the kind of numbers you go all in and trade a first round pick, Jae Crowder and Brandan Wright for. In 22 games with a far inferior 2014-15 Boston Celtics team, Rondo averaged 8.3/10.8/7.5.

 

As much as I hate Rondo for how he handled the situation (and how he played), I’m still shocked to this day that Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson and company thought he would be a good fit in Rick Carlisle’s space-based offense. Shocked.

 

Anyway, Rondo quit on the Mavs and because it’s professional sports he got $9.5 million dollars to play for the Sacramento Kings.

 

My focus has obviously been on the former Maverick Rondo, but here’s a Kings recap in one sentence: They have the best center in the league inDeMarcus Cousins, and are doing everything in their power to drive him away. If only we had some pieces to trade. Like that pick we gave for Rondo!

 

Injury Report:

Mavericks: J.J. Barea (ankle) Out

Kings: DeMarcus Cousins (back) Questionable

 

Leaders:

Points:

Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki, 17.1

Kings: DeMarcus Cousins, 27.9 (4th in NBA)

Rebounds:

Mavericks: Zaza Pachulia, 9.5

Kings: DeMarcus Cousins, 11.2 (6th in NBA)

Assists:

Mavericks: Deron Williams, 5.6

Kings: Rajon Rondo, 11 (1st in NBA – vomit)

Blocks:

Mavericks: Dwight Powell, 0.8

Kings: DeMarcus Cousins, 1.5

Steals:

Mavericks: Deron Williams, 1.4

Kings: Rajon Rondo, 1.8 (projectile vomit)

 

Personal Note: Nancy Lieberman is an assistant for the Sacramento Kings with Dallas ties. After Becky Hammon (San Antonio Spurs), she is the second female coach in NBA history. She could be the interim Head Coach if/when George Karl is fired. She is a friend, a mentor and one of the purest, greatest people I have and will ever know. I am hoping for this. Also this.

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Mavericks Game 17 Recap: Nuggets Score 5 in Third Quarter

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Mavericks Game 17 Recap: Nuggets Score 5 in Third Quarter

Subtitles are a fun part of this, and watching things unfold live in the third quarter, I just couldn’t help using that one. It took the Nuggets 8:57 to score in the third. A Will Barton three and a Kenneth Faried layup, that’s it. Incredible.

 

Obviously you’re asking yourself? Where does Asher Feltman get off doing a game recap the following afternoon? Well, my car broke down last night, I got home at 1 AM and I just woke up to the light of day. Not making excuses though, so judge my justification at your own discretion.

 

The Denver Nuggets are a bad basketball team. They are rebuilding. But currently have a team full of not young talent as much as they do trade chips to turn into young talent and draft picks. Obviously they selected Emmanuel Mudiay 7th overall in the Draft, selected Gary Harris and Jusuf Nurkic in the 2014 Draft and have some other young talent, but this team’s future is in the hands of players yet to be rostered. Their best player,Danilo Gallinari, will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. A lot of questions surround this team

 

But the current state of the team is a team that scored five points in the third quarter last night.

 

As for those Mavericks, they jump back into the win column after a three-game losing streak on the road. The familiar mantra of “beating the bad, losing to the good” played true on Saturday night as they defeated Denver handily behind a 25-5 third quarter.

 

Deron Williams continues his renaissance season. He scored 22 points with four three-pointers. The Mavericks seemed to find their groove once the rehabilitating Chandler Parsons night was done for good. To put it delicately, CP is struggling super bad right now. Fellow active rehabberWesley Matthews is still nowhere near his true self, moving rather gingerly but supplying a lot of punch on the defensive end. Offensively, however, he continues to struggle. He shot 3-11 and 1-7 from his three-point line. 

 

Zaza Pachulia finished with 16 and 12, notching his 10th double-double of the young season. Dirk Nowitzki had 13 and Raymond Felton had 12, but the shooting woes still remain very much intact for the Mavericks. They shot 43% and 27% from downtown and while we’re at it shot just 70% from the free throw line. Luckily the bad Nuggets played bad.

 

My car is in the shop.

 

Final: Dallas Mavericks 92, Denver Nuggets 81

 

Leaders:

 

Points:

Mavericks: Deron Williams, 22

Nuggets: Darrell Arthur, 16

Rebounds:

Mavericks: Zaza Pachulia, 12

Nuggets: Danilo Gallinari, 9

Assists: 

Mavericks: Deron Williams & Wesley Matthews, 4

Nuggets: Emmanuel Mudiay & Will Barton, 4

Blocks:

Mavericks: Zaza Pachulia, Chandler Parsons & Dwight Powell, 1

Nuggets: Darrell Arthur, 2

Steals:

Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki, Zaza Pachulia & Dwight Powell, 3

Nuggets: Darrell Arthur & Kenneth Faried, 2

+/-:

Mavericks: Zaza Pachulia, +20

Nuggets: Kostas Papanikolaou, +6 (garbage time)

 

Next Game: Monday, November 30 @ Sacramento Kings (6-12) [Rajon Rondo]

Next Home Game: Friday, December 4th vs. Houston Rockets (6-10)

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Game 17 Preview: Mavericks Try to Break Skid vs. Nuggets

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Game 17 Preview: Mavericks Try to Break Skid vs. Nuggets

“This last road trip left a sour taste in our mouth. We felt like we left a few on the table there we could have gotten.”  Chandler Parsons

 

After a six game winning streak capped off a 9-4 start nobody saw coming, things felt pretty good in Mavs-ville. Mavshood? MFFLand? Dirksbürg? But just like last year, this team just can’t beat their superiors. A three game road trip saw the team lose a thriller to the Durant-less Thunder in OKC, get smacked in Memphis and then fall just short to the Spurs. The Mavs shot 39% in Memphis and 41% in San Antonio. From three point range, they shot 32% against the Grizzlies and then just a god awful 27% against the Spurs. You don’t need an archeologist to tell you this has to change. And if you had one that’s not an entirely credible source anyway.

 

At the time of defeat, every team the Mavericks have lost to this year except the 8-8 Clippers had a better record than the Mavs. Every win? The best record of the wins belongs to the 9-7 Boston Celtics. Aside from the Clippers and Jazz, who are even with wins and losses, that’s the only win against a team with more W’s than L’s to their name.

 

Yes, it’s still early and this is (yet another frikkin’) new team the Mavericks have. But we’re coming up on a quarter of the way through the year, and soon it will be Christmas and seriously things move fast in a league where you play three to four times a week. We’re getting to the point where “it’s still early” won’t be an excuse much longer.

 

However, the “we’re still not fully healthy” excuse is slightly less forgivable, because Chandler Parsons is only starting to look any sorts of comfortable on the court and Wesley Matthews, while his minutes restriction is nearly caput, needs to start shooting the ball.

 

That theme falls in line with the whole team. The numbers absolutely do not lie. The Mavericks are 17th in the league in Field Goal Percentage, 23rd in Three Point Percentage and while respectable, 12th in Free Throw Percentage is very non-Mavericks like. These things need to be fixed, because the latter stages of the Dirk Nowitzki era set a blueprint for a mediocre defensive team. The Mavericks are allowing over 100 points per game (100.3) to their opponents, which isn’t too bad considering a lot of NBA teams are just trying to outscore opponents right now. However, the Mavs are 26th in opponent shooting percentage, and it’s killing them whenever they can’t score.

 

This team has to be able to score. No room for error. Elvis Andrus? Too soon.

 

As for the Nuggets, I predicted them to bottom out the West in my NBA Preview that you read. But behind must-see rookie Emmanuel Mudiay, they’re actually treading altitude thus far. The Nuggets are obviously in for a rebuild this season and will end up at the bottom of the West with the Lakers eventually, but right now they’re putting together some respectable performances, including two wins against the currently turrible Houston Rockets.

 

The injury bug hasn’t been a problem thus far for Danilo Gallinari (read: GALLLINAAAAAAAARI), but fellow Carmelo Anthony trade returnWilson Chandler is out for the season with hip surgery. Gallinari has come back from a torn ACL with a super strong season. He missed all of 2013-14 and was limited to just 59 games in 14-15, but so far this year is putting up potential All-Star numbers. He’s averaging a career high 18.1 PPG along with 6.6 rebounds and two and a half assists.

 

This game is all about the Mavs bouncing back, though. And they definitely need to take advantage of this one game home stand. The Mavericks hit the road for Sacramento and Portland following this contest, playing away from the American Airlines Center as they have done for 10 of their first 16 games this year.

 

Also worthy of note, I will now have seen the Mavericks play the Nuggets twice this year, once in the pre-season and tonight. I think that’s two more Nuggets games than most Nuggets fans.

Injury Report:

Mavericks: J.J. Barea (ankle) Out

Nuggets: Kenneth Faried (ankle) Questionable

Gary Harris (concussion) Questionable

Joffrey Lauvergne (not the Game of Thrones guy) (back) Questionable

Wilson Chandler (hip) Out

Jusuf Nurkic (knee) Out

 

 

Leaders:

Points:

Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki, 17.4

Nuggets: Danilo Gallinari, 18.1

Rebounds:

Mavericks: Zaza Pachulia, 9.4

Nuggets: Kenneth Faried, 9.1

Assists:

Mavericks: Deron Williams, 5.7

Nuggets: Emmanuel Mudiay, 6.1

Steals:

Mavericks: Deron Williams, 1.5

Nuggets: Will Barton, 1.3

Blocks:

Mavericks: Dwight Powell, 0.8

Nuggets: Kenneth Faried, 0.9

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Mavericks Game 16 Recap: 3 L’s and a Sad Face

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Mavericks Game 16 Recap: 3 L’s and a Sad Face

At the start of the year, the Dallas Mavericks were given no respect from all the national media outlets. Projected to finish well out of the playoffs by everyone and a team no network had interest in showcasing, a team full of players with chips on their shoulders shot out of the gates to a 9-4 record. After winning six straight to get to that mark, Dallas dropped two against Western Conference elites, losing in Oklahoma City and Memphis in very different fashion. 

 

Sunday in OKC, they couldn’t stop the Thunder from scoring. Tuesday in Memphis they could not score. I guess they really didn’t stop Memphis, either. 117-114 and 110-96 L’s turned a sparkling 9-4 record into 9-6 with the San Antonio Spurs waiting on Wednesday in another tough Western Conference road match-up.

 

The scoring struggles, more specifically the pathetic shooting woes that plagued Dallas from start to finish the night before in Memphis did not go away as the team traveled south to San Antone. After shooting 39% Tuesday the Mavs shot 41% Wednesday. They fought down to the wire against the second best team in the West but you just can’t lay that big of an egg up on the offensive end and expect to beat the Spurs.

 

The Spurs shot even worse than the Mavs (40.7%), but it came down to the number of chances at the hoop. Late in the game with San Antonio up 82-80, LaMarcus AldridgeManu Ginobili and Tony Parker all missed field goal attempts but the Mavs couldn’t grab a rebound and Kawhi Leonard capitalized on chance number four of the possession. Four. Four damn chances.

 

The Mavericks are a whole hell of a lot better than most people thought, but they are still a team that cannot afford to make too many mistakes and has to play at such a high level of basketball to put away teams. 

 

After the very fun six game win streak, the Mavs have dropped three straight in equally frustrating fashion. Hopefully they turn this trend upside down but just like last year’s team, the Mavericks are once again struggling against the better teams in the NBA, albeit through just 16 games. 

 

The losing skid drops the Mavericks to 9-7 (a record we sure hope the Dallas Cowboys reach!) but they are now 0-5 against teams with a better record than them. Toronto, Charlotte, Oklahoma City, Memphis (tiebreaker) and the Spurs. 

 

Obviously if the Mavs want to do anything beyond proving critics wrong and making some noise, this needs to be fixed.

 

Final: San Antonio Spurs (12-3) 88, Dallas Mavericks (9-7) 83

 

Leaders:

 

Points:

Mavericks: Wesley Matthews, 15 (6-16 FG, 3-10 3PT)

Spurs: Kawhi Leonard, 26 (21.5 PPG, 14th in NBA entering game)

Rebounds:

Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki, 14 (season high)

Spurs: Tim Duncan, 9

Assists: 

Mavericks: Deron Williams, 9 (season high)

Spurs: Tony Parker, 8

Blocks:

Mavericks: Deron Williams, 1 (only team block)

Spurs: Tim Duncan, 2 (1.7, tied for 10th in NBA entering game)

Steals:

Mavericks: Deron Williams, 3

Spurs: Kawhi Leonard & Patty Mills, 2

+/-:

Mavericks: Justin Anderson, +7

Spurs: Tim Duncan, +13

 

Next Game: Saturday, November 28th vs. Denver Nuggets (6-9), 7:30 PM

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Game 11 Preview: Mavericks Visit Winless 76ers

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Game 11 Preview: Mavericks Visit Winless 76ers

The last time the Dallas Mavericks visited a team searching for their first win, they fell miserably in New Orleans to the Pelicans. If you count Opening Night, they destroyed Phoenix, cause technically the Suns were winless and I’m annoying for pointing that out about a 0-0 squad. The Pelicans took advantage of a flat Mavs team and even without much of a contribution from Anthony Davis, who played just 19 minutes after suffering a thigh injury towards the end of the second half. 

 

Fortunately for the Mavs, Philadelphia doesn’t have anything resembling Anthony Davis. Philadelphia doesn’t have much of anything.

 

A year ago, the core of the 76ers seemed to be built around point guard Michael Carter-Williams and big men Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid. Embiid has yet to play an NBA game with back-to-back foot surgeries and MCW was traded at last season’s deadline for yet another first round pick, much to the chagrin of Philly coach Brett Brown. Nerlens Noel, however, has proven to be quite the budding star. Noel was selected 6th by New Orleans in the 2013 Draft and traded along with a 2014 first-rounder (Dario Saric) for Jrue Holiday. Sixers GM Sam Hinkie may have played coy about Holiday’s shady medical records but ultimately this one’s on New Orleans and the 76ers full-blown tank job would look even worse if not for this great trade.

 

Noel leads a current 76ers team that has an average age of 23.3, youngest in the NBA. This year’s third overall pick, Jahlil Okafor, helps anchor the middle and is the (very, very) early favorite for NBA Rookie of the Year. The 76ers have taken a lot of criticism from every angle for fielding a crazy bad team, one that has started 2015-2016 0-10 and possesses the only double digit negative point differential.

 

It seems that since their epic failure of getting involved in the four-team Dwight Howard trade in 2012 set the team on a course to go way, way back. In the deal the team sent away Nikola Vucevic, Mo Harkless and Andre Iguodala and in return got one very, very messy season of Andrew Bynum. Since then it’s been a total teardown, beginning with the Holiday trade and to this point not seeing an end.

 

For right now, it’s stack up as many picks as possible and try out all sorts of different personnel at the cheapest price possible. In fact, they claimed Thomas Robinson off waivers last season to simply meet the minimum salary requirements. The 76ers currently employ six undrafted free agents. No team has five and only two (Charlotte, New York) have four. Those players come cheap and there are plenty of them.

 

As for what the Sixers are indeed playing with besides the two very talented big men Noel and Okafor, they acquired guard Nik Stauskas from the Kings this off-season in a salary dump move for Sacramento with Stauskas, only in his second year after being taken 8th overall in 2014, sweetening the pot. The underrated and very talented Tony Wroten is still out recovering from ACL surgery, as is free agent signing Kendall Marshall. That left the backcourt to Isaiah Canaan, and he rather quickly relinquished the starting gig to undrafted rookie T.J. McConnell (Bear Down Arizona!). 

 

Hollis Thompson (undrafted, 2012), Jerami Grant (2nd Round, 2014) and JaKarr Sampson (undrafted, 2014) have proven to be quality rotation players for this team. The big gem the team has received through their familiar circuits has been Robert Covington. Covington had a cup of joe with the Rockets in 2014 after starring for the D-League Rio Grande Valley Vipers. Though he fit the Rockets shoot three’s, ask questions later system to a ‘T,’ Houston waived the 6 foot 9 sharpshooter and Philadelphia used their waiver priority to pluck him away.

 

Covington, a personal favorite of mine that I may have written about someway somewhere a year ago, is set to return from a knee injury that has limited the 24-year old to just one game this season. Reports since late last week strongly indicate that he will return Monday vs. the Mavericks. Last season Covington amassed 13.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 27.9 minutes a game. He took a robust 6.4 three pointers a game, making 2.4 (37%). He shot a suspect 39.6 percent from the field, but it was a year of growth that he now looks to build upon. It looks like this Monday will get things kicking in his sophomore year, excluding 34 minutes in 2013-14.

 

So yes, the Philadelphia 76ers are 0-10 and they…well, stink. But Nerlens NoelJahlil Okafor and now Robert Covington make for an intriguing product, one you shouldn’t come out flat against…like last week in New Orleans.

 

Now, ifyou’ve been paying attention to comments made by Rick Carlisle today, you would think the Mavericks are taking on an Eastern Conference powerhouse:

 

“I’ve watched their last three games and for me it’s the most dangerous game on the schedule.”

 

“A game like Saturday helps everything. But if you show up and lay an egg tonight it will all have been wasted.”

 

“You start turning it over against them, it’s going to be a dunkfest out here and people are going to be going crazy.”

 

“We’ve got to play our game and we’ve got to play it very well, and we’ve got to play 48 minutes.”

 

Injury Report:

 

Mavericks: JaVale McGee (leg) Questionable

 

 

76ers: Robert Covington (knee) Questionable

Richuan Holmes (hamstring) Out

Kendall Marshall (knee) Out

Carl Landry (wrist) Out

Joel Embiid (foot) Out

Tony Wroten (knee) Out

 

Leaders:

 

Points:

Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki (17.8)

76ers: Jahlil Okafor (19.2)

Rebounds:

Mavericks: Zaza Pachulia (10, 12th in NBA)

76ers: Nerlens Noel (9.1, 20th in NBA)

Assists:

Mavericks: Deron Williams (5.2)

76ers: T.J. McConnell (7.0, 10th in NBA)

Blocks:

Mavericks: Dwight Powell (0.7)

76ers: Jahlil Okafor (1.8, Tie-11th in NBA)

Steals:

Mavericks: Deron Williams (1.4)

76ers: Robert Covington (2.0, Tie-6th in NBA)

+/-:

Mavericks: Raymond Felton (4.0)

76ers: Phil Pressey (3.4)

 

 

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Mavericks Game 10 Recap: “B-Team” Repels Rockets

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Mavericks Game 10 Recap: “B-Team” Repels Rockets

The last time the Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets met just under seven months ago, the Rockets eliminated the Mavericks in Game 5 of first round Western Conference play. Rajon Rondo was sent home before game four, James Harden shot 52 free throws in the series and the Mavericks tumultuous 2014-15 season was at last beaten to its final breath.

 

On a night where Wesley MatthewsChandler Parsons and Dwight Howard were already scheduled to miss the second half of a back-to-back, word came down just before tipoff that Dirk Nowitzki would also be rested. One of the most anticipated games of the year became the Rockets vs. the Mavs B-team. But basketball is basketball and despite some sort of really important College Football game going on and rookie Justin Anderson being in the starting lineup, we watched and hoped for the Mavs first three game winning streak of the year.

 

Not just their first three game win streak of the season –something the Mavs accomplished 10 times last season– but done in the team’s only four games in five nights stretch of this season.

 

Rick Carlisle‘s starting lineup tonight was Deron WilliamsRaymond Felton, Justin Anderson, Charlie Villanueva and Zaza Pachulia. Twitter was full of people talking about how the decision to watch Baylor and Oklahoma or the Ronda Rousey fight or Doctor Who had been made for them. Well, the Mavs “B-Team” came out firing on all cylinders.

 

Charlie Villanueva came out firing, finishing with 19 points, eight coming in the first quarter. Dwight Powell had 13 points, 9 rebounds (7 in the first half) and another monster put-back slam. Devin Harris had a season-high 15 and J.J. Barea added 7 of of his own with a team-high 8 assists.

 

But the story of the night was Raymond Felton. Ray Felt finished with 23 and is just playing with All-Star confidence right now. The throw-ins from last year’s two big trades for Tyson Chandler and Rajon Rondo were Ray Felton and Dwight Powell, and both have been absolutely hugethrough Dallas’ first 10 games this season. Felton finished the night with 23, and was all razzle dazzle in the 4th quarter. Felton had 15 in the final frame alone. His previous season-high was 18 total points from Opening Night in Phoenix. He had a vine-worthy play of his own and I love to record happy Mavs moments, so I did (watch).

 

On the other end, James Harden endured one tough evening. The man who proclaims he should have won MVP over Stephen Curry didn’t make a field goal until try number 12, almost four minutes into the second half.  He did finish with 25 points because it’s still James Harden, these are still NBA refs and he shot 14 free throws. Sigh. Baby steps, @NBA. 

 

After a 34 point half, Houston scored 33 in the 3rd quarter and pestered at the Mavericks lead the whole second half. Back up to 19 after a J.J. Barea and-1 midway through the 4th, it took just 54 seconds for the lead to shrink back down to 12.  The Mavericks led this game wire to wire and come out of it with a big steal of a victory in “Clutch City” (barf).

 

Terrence Jones had 23 points in his third start of the year, as the super talented fifth year player recovers from an eye injury. 2011 NBA Champion Jason Terry showed up against his former team. JET had 19 points, easily a season high. The Rockets without Dwight Howard,Donatas Motiejunas and Patrick Beverley had three double digit scorers. The Mavs without Dirk Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews, Chandler Parsons and JaVale McGee had twice as many, six in double figures. 

 

The Mavs scored a season-high 57 first half points, with 53 in the second. The Rockets shot 38.1 percent.

 

Final: Dallas Mavericks 110 (6-4), Houston Rockets 98 (4-6)

 

Leaders:

Points:

Mavericks: Raymond Felton, 23

Rockets: James Harden, 25 (2nd in NBA; 28.4)

Rebounds:

Mavericks: Dwight Powell, 9

Rockets: Clint Capela, 10

Assists: 

Mavericks: J.J. Barea, 8

Rockets: James Harden, 10

Blocks:

Mavericks: Charlie Villanueva, 3 (seriously!)

Rockets: Terrence Jones, 3

Steals:

Mavericks: Deron Williams & J.J. Barea, 2

Rockets: Trevor Ariza, 3

+/-:

Mavericks: John Jenkins, +15 (!)

Rockets: Jason Terry, +7

 

Next Game: Monday, November 16th @ Philadelphia 76ers, 6:00 PM

Next Home Game: Friday, November 20th vs. Utah Jazz, 7:30 PM

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Game 10 Preview: Mavericks Renew Rivalry with Rockets

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Game 10 Preview: Mavericks Renew Rivalry with Rockets

Ah, the Houston Rockets. The team ripe for a drinking game played only at home. Flops? Complaints on obvious fouls? James Harden head jerks? Play this one safely, folks.

 

In any matter, tonight begins the first of four games the Dallas Mavericks will play in 2015-2016 against the Rockets. And of course, it’s on the second night of a back-to-back, as all four matchups were last season for the Mavs. With the Mavs 5-4 through nine games and the Rockets 4-5, each team is still looking for its identity.

 

The Mavericks obviously are once again integrating new players this year, with eight new members. Houston is largely the same group as last season, aside from one piece. But it’s a big piece. A piece that openly expressed his desire to be a Dallas Mav at one time. The piece has a name after all and it’s Ty Lawson.

 

The player I affectionately call “Tie Loss Win” because it’s too darn easy, Lawson was acquired by Houston this off-season for a package evenCorey Brewer would call a bag of chips. After becoming the face of the Denver Nuggets franchise, things came crashing down rather quickly.

 

Two DUI’s, an arrest and a trip to rehab combined with the Nuggets drafting Emmanuel Mudiay 7th overall in June meant the end for Lawson’s time in Denver. The only thing of value that Houston dealt to Denver was a 2016 protected first round draft pick, otherwise the only thing they were taking on was the risk Lawson presented as well as risking the fracture of their team’s depth chart. They had a starting point guard after all in Patrick Beverley, but Lawson is no doubt an upgrade if his head is on straight.

 

So far this season, it has definitely not been. Last season, Ty Lawson averaged 9.6 assists a game, third in the league behind only Chris Paul andJohn Wall. This season he’s at 5.8, his lowest since his sophomore season. Of course he’s never played with a guy like James Harden. As annoying as Harden is, he’s one of the NBA’s most talented players but is also a very ball dominant two guard. With good reason, but Lawson’s game appears to be clashing with the runner-up MVP’s early on this year.

 

The Rockets’ new point guard is playing just under 38 minutes a night (a career high), but everything is down across the board. And dramatically. Albeit with a small sample size. 9.3 points per game is his lowest since his rookie year back in 2009. He’s committing more fouls than ever. His free throws have never been worse, he’s under 70% so far for the first time ever. His effective field goal percentage is over a full percentage point worse than it’s been in six Denver seasons. His standard, analytics-free field goal percentage is down to 31.4 percent. That’s…awful.

 

The big risk Houston took this off-season is not paying off in the least so far. Ty Lawson has been a ghost, except a ghost you can see quite clearly, because he’s playing most of each game. Is it Kevin McHale‘s call? GM Daryl Morey? How long will they ride this experiment when the incumbent point guard remains on staff.

 

It’s not quite Rajon Rondo-esque, as Dallas paid a far steeper price, but it’s a big investment nonetheless. And so far, it’s been a trainwreck even Amy Schumer wouldn’t partake in. But it’s oh so early. But also, who cares, it’s still very much the NBA season entering full swing if it hasn’t already.

 

 

Injury Report:

Mavericks: Wesley Matthews (Achilles Maintenance) Expected to Sit Out Second of Back-to-Back

Chandler Parsons (Knee) Expected to Sit Out Second of Back-to-Back

JaVale McGee (leg) Questionable (listed as, at least; expected out for sure)

 

Rockets: Dwight Howard (rest) Expected to Sit Out Second of Back-to-Back

Patrick Beverley (ankle) Questionable

Donatas Motiejunas (back) Out

 

 

Leaders:

Points:

Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki 17.8

Rockets: James Harden 28.8 (2nd in NBA)

Rebounds:

Mavericks: Zaza Pachulia 10.2 (9th in NBA)

Rockets: Dwight Howard 12.7 (would be 2nd but not eligible yet for league ranking; 6 GP)

Assists:

Mavericks: Deron Williams 5.3

Rockets: Ty Lawson 5.8

Blocks:

Mavericks: Dwight Powell, Zaza Pachulia & Devin Harris .6

Rockets: Dwight Howard 2.0

Steals:

Mavericks: Deron Williams 1.4

Rockets: Trevor Ariza 1.9

+/-:

Mavericks: Raymond Felton 4.8

Rockets: Clint Capela 2.3

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Mavericks Game 9 Recap: U-G-L-Y, But W

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Mavericks Game 9 Recap: U-G-L-Y, But W

Mavericks 35, Lakers 31 wasn’t the score after the first quarter. Or any quarter. That’s the combined score from the second and third quarters. This one was ugly, uglier than any simile I’m allowed to make. A prettier game would be played in NBA 2K16 with both players spending most of the time reading texts.

 

Metta World Peace played crunch time minutes for the Lakers, Roy Hibbert‘s first made shot of the game was a 22-footer with 1:45 left. Kobe Bryant was all sleeves in the second half, after starting the night hot, making his first three shots. The NBA’s third all-time leading scorer had 7 points in the game’s first 3:05. After resting in LA’s previous two games, the 20-year veteran (wow) finished with 19 points on 7-15 shooting. Only his 24 point effort in the Lakers opener exceeded tonight’s total, but 47% shooting was by far his highest clip of the season.

 

Aside from Kobe Bryant’s likely final trip to Dallas –and the fact that this game was painfully starved for good basketball, the story of the night was Zaza Pachulia

 

The Mavericks starting center continues to replace Tyson Chandler admirably, and has been one of the team’s best players through nine games. Zaza recorded his 5th double-double and 6th double digit rebounding game of the season. He set new season high’s in both points and rebounds, with 18 and 16 respectively in a monster night.

 

On the injury front –always a story with this budding Mavs season– Chandler Parsons started both halves, marking the first time this year he had done so as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery. He tied his tops for the year with 9 points and did it on an efficient 4-6 shooting, including his 4th three pointer.

Dwight Powell added 10 points and 12 rebounds, his second double-double of the year and his career. Dirk Nowitzki struggled with his shot, making just 4 of 13 attempts. He missed a technical free throw and has now missed all three of those specific free throw shots this year. Strange. Aside from the big men Pachulia and Powell, the Mavs other scorer in double figurers was Deron Williams, who finished with 13 as well as 7 assists.

 

Aside from the Kobe Bryant plot thread, the Lakers are a team built for the future. With back-to-back lottery selections in the starting lineup, neither D’Angelo Russell or Julius Randle made waves tonight, but 2014’s 45th overall selection (Dwight Powell was 46th) Jordan Clarkson was the young Laker to steal the show. Clarkson had 21 points and was the only player in purple and gold to shoot more than Kobe. (That’s gonna sound like a shot, it isn’t)

 

Anyone who watched this game wire to wire is a great fan of the basketball, because this was really, really an ugly game. The victorious Mavericks shot 36.6 percent, L.A. 33% and that doesn’t even do it (in)justice. The Lakers also had 22 turnovers, Dallas 15 but again, no justice has been served. This was a sloppy game through and through, but at the end of the day, it’s a #MavsWinMavsWin and we’ll take it. 

 

Leaders:

Points:

Mavericks: Zaza Pachulia, 18

Lakers: Jordan Clarkson, 21

Rebounds:

Mavericks: Zaza Pachulia, 16

Lakers: Julius Randle & Brandon Bass, 10

Assists: 

Mavericks: Deron Williams, 7

Lakers: D’Angelo Russell, 5

Blocks:

Mavericks: Devin Harris, 2

Lakers: Roy Hibbert, 2 (5th in NBA entering tonight)

Steals:

Mavericks: Deron Williams, 3

Lakers: Jordan Clarkson, 3

+/-:

Mavericks: Devin Harris, +20

Lakers: Kobe Bryant, +5

Final: Dallas Mavericks 90 (5-4), Los Angeles Lakers 82 (1-8)

 

Next Game: Tomorrow @ Houston Rockets, 7:00 PM

Next Home Game: Friday, November 20th vs. Utah Jazz, 7:30 PM

 

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Dirk Nowitzki 1, Father Time 0

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Dirk Nowitzki 1, Father Time 0

Two and a half weeks ago at the “Meet your Mavericks” luncheon, Dirk Nowitzki spoke openly about the fact this his storied career is nearing its end. It’s a touchy subject, and the end of times for Dirk is drawing ever closer and though we would prefer he play forever, in just a few seasons the closest he’ll come to a fade-away at the American Airlines Center will be his statue in front of the arena.

Dirk told his teammates that his 17 years have “flown by” and it seemed like just yesterday former Mavericks owner Ross Perot had paid his own Mavericks employees to go to the airport and welcome the lanky, goofy haired 20-year from Wurzburg, Germany. Nowitzki encouraged his fellow teammates, all listening intently like the words coming from the Big German were of life or death importance, not to take his time for granted.

I gave a similar speech to a bunch of High School baseball players, but I assure you none of them were listening like the Mavericks were to Dirk. Or listening at all, but I gave that speech like a pro.

There’s a saying that “Father Time Always Wins,” but I’ll be damned because last night a 37 years, 4 months and 23 days old Dirk Nowitzki won the Dallas Mavericks a game against one of the most talked about teams in the league in arguably the most talked about game of the year. Yes, the Dallas Mavericks beat almost-Mav DeAndre Jordan and the Los Angeles Clippers last night.

“Dat Dood”, the “Big Daddy” and “Tall Baller From the G” was epic. Epic. He turned back the clock once again in this early season of no Mavericks expectations and poured in 31 points on 11-14 shooting, 5-6 from downtown and added 11 rebounds because all the sudden 37-year old Dirk can grab him some boards!

Obviously this game was circled on the calendar before it even had a place on it due to the DeAndre Jordan fiasco. But that clown aside, it’s a great Clippers team coming into the Mavs house with Dallas having lost two of their first three at home. And they got the job done.

A big reason was the play of Wesley Matthews, who despite being given permission to seek another deal when Jordan flip flopped back to the West Coast, stayed true to his word (crazy concept, I know. Bear with me) and became a Dallas Maverick. With his minutes restriction boosted to 30 as he continues to recover from a Torn Achilles suffered in March, the two-way guard set season season-highs of points (25), rebounds (6) and minutes (32:48).

But it was the face of the franchise, Dirk Nowitzki, that stole the spotlight in a game that certainly didn’t need another headline. Not only has Dirk been great this year, he’s been remarkably efficient. He’s averaging 18.9 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting 53% from the field, 52% from the 3-point line and 91% from the free throw line in just 27.7 minutes.

He’s 23rd in the league in scoring, and every player above him except for LeBron James (age 30), Carmelo Anthony (age 30), Brook Lopez (27) and Kyle Lowry (29) are at least a decade younger. Only DeMarcus Cousins (29.6 minutes because George Karl hates him) and Isaiah Thomas(30.1 MPG) are playing around the 30 minute mark, while Dirk sits at 27.7. Crazy efficient.

Speaking of efficiency, Nowitzki’s 27.06 PER from ESPN’s John Hollinger is 8th best in the league. This guy is 37. He’s supposed to be the third wheel at best at this point. Which is an issue unto itself, but this is a happy article. Mostly…

The concern with Dirk is sustainability because yes, he’s 37 and has played 17 NBA seasons, 140 Playoff games and spent a lot of summers representing his country of Germany in various games like FIBA or the Olympics. He will surely have nights of rest along the way, but with the Mavericks still easing two starters back into things in Wesley Matthews (close!) and Chandler Parsons (not so close), the team has been placed on the worn out but still game ready shoulders of Dirk Nowitzki.

Sure, the Mavericks were supposed to have given Dirk some more help by now, scrapping the Championship team from four years ago, but my goodness is it fun to watch. this. guy. go. to. work.

Oh, also…#TAKEDATWITCHU!

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Mavericks Game 6 Recap: Hi, I’m Deron Williams

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Mavericks Game 6 Recap: Hi, I’m Deron Williams

Actually, I’m Asher Feltman, but that’s a headline you see.

 

The new-look (for the again’th time) Dallas Mavericks got their first home victory of the season tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans. Dallas moves to 3-3 (1-2 at home) and New Orleans falls to 0-6 (0-3 away). The Pelicans are the last remaining Western Conference winless team, while Brooklyn and Philadelphia (of course) are still searching for a W in the East.

 

The battered Pelicans were missing Jrue HolidayTyreke Evans and Omer Asik from their starting unit. Alexis Ajinça, Ish Smith and Luke Babbittstarted in their place. Also out were Quincy PondexterNorris Cole and if you want to throw in Kendrick Perkins I suppose I’ll allow it. With so many parts missing, it’s Anthony Davis or bust for the Pellies. Following a career high tying 43 point effort Friday against the Hawks, it wasn’t all things roses for Brow on Saturday night at the American Airlines Center.

 

It’s weird even to type something like this, but 25 points on 11-19 shooting actually resulted in a pretty pedestrian line for 22-year old unibrow wielder. In my game preview (which you read but if not, here) I highlighted rebounding as the theme of tonight’s Mavs-Pelicans matchup. Because the Mavericks tend to and have allowed big rebound games this home stand to the likes of Luis Scola and Marvin Williams and Anthony Davis is one of the best big men in the league. He was limited to 6 rebounds and one offensively. Ryan Anderson led the Pelicans with nine boards.

 

The story of this one, at least for me, was Deron Williams. A very, very big factor in the Mavericks chances to make any kind of noise this year is dependent on a Deron Williams Renaissance of sorts. Williams played a team-high 29 and a half minutes for the Mavs, scoring 19 big points for the most of a balanced team attack. He added three big three-pointers. Nothing about his numbers (3 rebounds, 2:2 assist turnover ratio) jump out at all but he LOOKED good.

 

Looking the part, although just part of said part, is an important thing for these Dallas Mavericks. As they slowly start to get healthy, it’s key for the guys that can go out there and play at 100% or close enough to perform as one of team’s leading men. Tonight, Deron Williams was that. Throw the box score away. In fact, do that for the next game. The box score never tells the whole story, to dig up a time and time again sports cliché.

 

Zaza Pachulia was a beast on the glass, grabbing 14 rebounds. A missed free throw in the game’s final moments cost him his fourth double-double of the season’s first six contests, but we’ll worry about that in April when he and Andre Drummond are competing for that category’s champion.

Dat Dood, Dirk Nowitzki had 18 and 7, continuing a strong start to season number 18. He had two three-pointers, as did Wesley Matthews. Wessy Wes wasn’t great, and if you ask him, he probably wasn’t even good, but he’s looking healthier and healthier with each game. A key play was in the third quarter with 10:04 remaining. Matthews drove straight into the NBA’s leading shot blocker from a year and scored plus the foul on Anthony Davis to put the Mavs up 79-72.

 

It’s the little things. Good for Wes, not as good for Chandler Parsons, who is recovering at a slow rate but playing nonetheless. CP25 had 6 points in 15 minutes, but didn’t look very comfortable in this game. The Dwight Powell trade continues to pay great dividends for the Mavericks. Powell set a temporary career-high with 15 points and chipped in another great job on the glass with 7. He’s averaging a clean 8 rebounds per game, with at least 6 in every one so far.

 

So sure, the numbers favor a lot of players over Deron Williams, but the Mavericks new point guard looked great tonight. He was a leader and a floor general, the stats just don’t tell you that. But like I said, throw away the stats. Mavs win.

Leaders:

Points:

Mavericks: Deron Williams, 19

Pelicans: Anthony Davis, 25

Rebounds:

Mavericks: Zaza Pachulia, 14

Pelicans: Ryan Anderson, 9

Assists: 

Mavericks: Devin Harris, 6

Pelicans: Ish Smith, 7

Blocks:

Mavericks: Dwight Powell & Jeremy Evans, 1

Pelicans: Anthony Davis, 2

Steals:

Mavericks: Deron Williams & Devin Harris, 2

Pelicans: Ish Smith & Toney Douglas, 2

+/-:

Mavericks: Dwight Powell, +20

Pelicans: Alonzo Gee, +12 (if he gets more minutes it’s because Coach Alvin Gentry read this)

Final: Dallas Mavericks 107 (3-3), New Orleans Pelicans 98 (0-6)

Next Game: Tuesday @ New Orleans, 7:00 PM

Next Home Game: Wednesday vs. Los Angeles Clippers (yeah), 7:00 PM, Nationally Televised on ESPN

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Dallas Mavericks look to Rebound vs. Pelicans

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Dallas Mavericks look to Rebound vs. Pelicans

With the Mavericks and rebounding, usually it’s a losing battle. However, through five games so far in the 2015-16 NBA season, opponents only hold an overall advantage on the glass of 243 to 240. Feels like more. Way more.

 

DeAndre Jordan and Julius Randle hit the Mavs up for 15 boards.. Luis Scola and Marvin Williams had 12. So even though the overall edge –helped by a +15 last Sunday against the hapless Lakers— is tilted Dallas’ way, the opponent’s presence on the glass and on the inside altogether has been a problem for these Mavericks. And last year’s, and the year before and the year before and the year before that.

 

The last time the Mavericks were a better rebounding team than their opponent’s was 2010-2011, a pretty special year if I may recall. Despite the presence of Tyson Chandler that year and also 2014-15, the Mavs have simply never had much of an inside presence. Including my man Raef LaFrentz. Sorry, Raef.

 

This is why I wasn’t kidding when I said Zaza Pachulia might be the second best center in franchise history. The veteran center, despite fans already calling for JaVale McGee to claim the starting spot, has been one of the Mavs’ bright spots so far this year. The 13-year veteran has three double-double’s in the first five games. Maybe look at the team’s 30% 3-point percentage before blaming Zaza.

 

Next up for Dallas is fellow Southwest Division squad, the New Orleans Pelicans. Despite 43/10/4(steals)/3(blocks) from Anthony Davis, one of the premier players in the league, the Pelicans lost again last night. This time at home to Atlanta to fall to 0-5 in the young season. The Mavericks have lost the first two of a three game home stand, their first of the year. Dallas was 27-14 at home last season, tied for 12th in the league.

 

On the flip side, an off-season to heal roster-wide injuries and another year under the belt for “Brow” had many projecting the Pelicans to repeat as Western Conference Playoff attendees, this time in a more convincing fashion than 2015’s 8th seed. Alvin Gentry left the Golden State Warriors bench to sprinkle some championship magic on the Pellies. However, before the season even began, Tyreke Evans and Omer Asik were hurt (again), Jrue Holliday was ailing (again), Norris Cole was out as well and since they have also lost Kendrick Perkins and Quincy Pondexter. The Pelicans have already run through a few free agents this year, Nate Robinson playing one of the two games New Orleans has had to endure against Golden StateToney Douglas coming on board after the Opener and Ish Smith lasting the season’s duration thus far.

 

Facing off with the Mavericks for the first of four times this season, both team’s know all about playing short-handed. Dallas does have Wesley MatthewsChandler Parsons and Deron Williams on the court, but definitely not at full strength. The Hornets Pelicans at 0-5 and the 2-3 Mavs aren’t going to use injuries at an excuse, but they’ve got a pretty nice one tailor made.

 

Leaders:

Points:

Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki (16.8)

New Orleans Pelicans: Anthony Davis (25.2 – 6th in league)

Rebounds:

Mavericks: Zaza Pachulia (9.4)

Pelicans: Anthony Davis (10)

Assists:

Mavericks: Deron Williams (6)

Pelicans: Ish Smith (7.6 – 5th in league)

Blocks:

Mavericks: Zaza Pachulia & Dwight Powell (0.6)

Pelicans: Anthony Davis (3 – 4th in league)

Steals:

Mavericks: Devin Harris (1)

Pelicans: Ish Smith (1.6)

+/-:

Mavericks: Wesley Matthews (+2.8)

Pelicans: Ish Smith (0.0)

 

Injury Report:

Dallas Mavericks: JaVale McGee (Leg): Questionable

New Orleans Pelicans: Omer Asik (Calf): Questionable

Tyreke Evans (Knee): Out

Kendrick Perkins (Pectoral): Out

Quincy Pondexter (Knee): Out

Norris Cole (Ankle): Out

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15-16 Reasons to Be Optimistic about the 2015-2016 Mavericks

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15-16 Reasons to Be Optimistic about the 2015-2016 Mavericks

“Hope Springs Eternal.”

Well it’s fall, but I don’t think Alexander Pope would approve of seasonal discrimination.

The 2015-16 Dallas Mavericks begin their seven game preseason tonight at home vs. the Denver Nuggets. It’s going to be…interesting. Dallas is missing the following players: Dirk Nowitzki (rest), Wesley Matthews (Achilles), Chandler Parsons (knee), Deron Williams (calf), Salah Mejrl (fibula), JaVale McGee (tibia) and Dwight Powell (elbow).

So…yeah. Preseason serves a purpose, however it is not until the final game or two until the main attractions, if fully healthy, suit up for any sort of role. However, there’s a lot to see in the group that Rick Carlisle will roll out tonight against the Nuggets at the American Airlines Center. The Mavs are carrying a gargantuan 20 players in Training Camp, so even with so many out, there’s always intrigue to find when you’re paying to watch professional athletes.

But I don’t intend to focus so much on tonight’s game, I want to give you all 15 or possibly 16 reasons to be optimistic about the 2015-16 Dallas Mavericks. You know, as the title says. Without further or do, in no particular order because I’m not good at lists:

Reason 1: Dirk’s Still Strong.

478 points shy of passing Shaquille O’Neal for 6th on the all-time scoring list, Dirk Nowitzki is going to have a good season. This we know. Yes, he’s 37 with 17 seasons under his belt, but you can still rely on Dat Dood for 15-18 PPG and once again being the leader on a team with a bunch of new parts.

Reason 2: Chandler Parsons Isn’t New

Chandler Parsons had a darn good 2014-15 season. Yes, he saw regression across the board in his basic stats, but he was in a pressure-packed first year of a near-max contract, a huge raise from his under one million dollar salary he was making his first three seasons as a member of theRockets. With a year of adjustments behind him, Parsons could be in store to pick up right where his 2013-14 left off and take the next step in his still budding NBA career.

Reason 3: Rajon Rondo is Gone

It seemed like an early Christmas present when the Mavericks pulled off the Rajon Rondo trade on December 19 of last year. However, an ill-fit alongside Monta Ellis, multiple run-ins with Head Coach Rick Carlisle and a disastrous end in Round One of the Playoffs led to Rondo’s dismissal from the team while he was still technically a member of it. Once he wasn’t officially a Mav, he was gone.

Reason 4: Wesley Matthews is the Biggest Free Agent signing in Franchise History

Yeah, yeah, we know what happened with DeAndre Jordan (see you November 11th) but when the dust settled the Mavericks still came away from the 2015 off-season with the biggest free agent signing in franchise history. The definition of a 3-and-D player, Matthews will be the starting shooting guard as soon as he, Mavericks Trainer Casey Smith and company feel he’s healthy enough. Apparently that could be a whole lot sooner than later.

Reason 5: Deron Williams Renaissance

A huge part of the 2015-16 Mavericks puzzle is Deron Williams. Originally spurning Dallas for the Brooklyn Nets in 2012, things went pretty damn poorly for D-Will on the East Coast. Injuries, being passed up by Shaun Livingston and Jarrett Jack but most importantly his numbers came down season by season in each of his three years after signing his $98 million dollar contract. He just needs to stay healthy for anything to be possible, a theme roster-wide.

Reason 6: Center-By-Committee Shows Promise

After DeAndre Jordan cost the Mavericks both DeAndre Jordan and Tyson Chandler while playing hide and don’t seek in Houston, Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson had some work to do to plug in the massive hole left by being left at the altar. To say they filled it admirably…fits. There’s a lot of upside however in all three of the team’s new projected centers. Zaza Pachulia averages a double double in his career per 36 (minutes) number, we know the good that Samuel Dalembert can offer as well as the opposite of good and everyone in the league knows the literal upside and potential of JaVale McGee. It will be an adventure for sure, hopefully one that gets a good review on Rotten Tomatoes.

Reason 7: Point Gawds 

Deron Williams will be at the helm and J.J. Barea was re-signed to be the backup point guard. Coach Carlisle prefers using Devin Harris at the two, but we all know he’s capable of playing one. Throw in emergency situations for Raymond Felton (and his beautiful expiring contract) and Dallas has a lot of veteran point guards to keep what might be a shaky ship at times afloat.

Reason 8: Depth Chart

The best Mavericks teams have been super deep, with reinforcements at every position. The past year was a frightening exception. ThankfullyAl-Farouq Aminu emerged as a super sub, but depth remained thin all over the place, especially after trading Brandan Wright and Jae Crowder in the Rajon Rondo deal. Once the team hits full strength with Parsons and Matthews entrenched in the starting lineup, there’s a whole lot of promise in bench players emerging as good subs. See the previous two #reasons.

Reason 9: A Good Rookie?!

The last first round pick the Mavericks made that offered anything in the way of promise was 2009 when the team selected Rodrigue Beaubois25th overall. Since then they’ve selected Dominque Jones, picked and traded Jordan Hamilton and Tyler Zeller, picked and traded Shane Larkinafter a year and then in 2014 conveyed their pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The 2015 NBA Draft produced Justin Anderson. Selected 21st out of Virginia, the 6 foot 6 228 pound man-beast is one of the most intriguing aspects of this Dallas Mavericks team. As a lifelong Mavs fan I know better than to get excited about a rookie, it’s been 12 years since Josh Howard was the most effective first round pick made by Dallas, however Anderson seems like the best bet in five seasons to buck that trend.

Reason 10: Devin Harris Wears #34 Again

Ok, this one’s for me. This is a selfish endeavor. Devin Harris has been my favorite Dallas Mavericks player(excluding the Deity Dirk) since being selected 5th overall in 2004. When he returned to the team in 2013, Brandan Wright occupied number 34, and Harris (obviously inspired by Gordon Hayward from his time with the Utah Jazz) switched to #20. With Wright departed, DH34 is once again…DH34.

Reason 11: Head Coach Rick Carlisle

I asked Coach Carlisle this summer at Dirk Nowitzki’s Heroes Softball game if the constant turnover of the team has taken a toll on him at all.

I don’t remember the exact quote, because technically I was “having a conversation and not interviewing him” (if anyone asks) but he was only brimming with excitement about his job, his team, his players (whomever they may be) and being the Head Coach of the Dallas Mavericks. We are lucky to have the Coach we have, because the free agent chasing that has resulted in makeshift rosters every season since 2011-12 has given Coach Carlisle some serious work to do year after year. He keeps producing, never letting even the 2012-13 team fall below .500.

Reason 12: Salvation Projects

Vince Carter, Brandan Wright and DeJuan Blair in 2013. Al-Farouq Aminu, Richard Jefferson and Charlie Villanueva the following season. 2015 brings us former first round pick John Jenkins, super athlete Jeremy Evans and second year player Dwight Powell.

Evans and Powell were second round picks, but whether it’s being an insane athlete like Evans looking for somebody to polish his craft (or lack thereof) or a potential draft steal by Boston (via Cleveland via Charlotte) turned trade steal by the Mavericks last year with Powell, the Mavericks are no short on their usual stash of project players in this era of chasing free agency. Jenkins was selected 23rd overall by the Atlanta Hawks in 2012, but has done absolutely nothing in three seasons. However, he’s darn good in NBA 2K, so there’s a thread to hold onto.

Reason 13: #MFFL’s

A term nobody used to know. Since it became the Mavericks playoff slogan in 2014 (#MFFLStrong), I’ve had people asking me just exactly what the heck an “MFFL” is. Is it a thing? An object? Lottery numbers even though they’re all letters?

No sir and ma’am, it stands for ‘Mavs Fans For Life.’ That’s what Mavs fans are, we’re MFFL’s, and as long as we’re around it’s hard to not believe in this team.

Reason 14: Team Chemistry

You can never underestimate team chemistry. The brotherhood amongst teammates. See: 2011 NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks. Put on perfect display at 2015 Mavericks Media Day, a team led by veterans highlighted by Dirk Nowitzki is always strong in this department. I mean, we withstood Rondo’s presence…but seriously. Check out this photo gallery from Media Day to see just how close knit this new group already seems.

Reason 15: Underdogs

ESPN Pre-Season Prediction: 18th.

CBS Pre-Season Prediction: 22nd.

Print it and put it on the bulletin board in the locker room. Actually every locker.

Reason 16: Dallas Sports

On that note.

2014 Dallas Cowboys: Projected last in NFC East, finished first.

2015 Texas Rangers: Projected last in A.L. West, finished first.

2016 Dallas Mavericks: Projected last in Southwest Division.

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What To Expect: Chandler Parsons

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What To Expect: Chandler Parsons

Last season the Dallas Mavericks sent a ripple throughout the Western Conference, and more specifically the Southwest Division dynamic, when they signed restricted free agent Chandler Parsons to a massive three-year $46+ million dollar offer sheet. After using the allotted three days to mull over this decision, Rockets management declined to match the lucrative offer to the 25-year old forward.

Parsons first season in Dallas –and just his 4th in the NBA– was met with a lot of criticism. There’s no getting around the fact that a guy picked after 37 players in the 2011 Draft who now makes just about maximum money (annually measured, relax folks) will be under a hot microscope.

In 66 games (and 1 playoff game) before having his season cut off by right knee surgery, every lady’s favorite basketball player averaged 15.7 points, 4.9 rebounds (1 offensive), 2.4 assists and a steal with a 46% field goal percentage and 38% from beyond the arc.

Two areas in particular are of high 2015-16 importance to me, because the 16 points a night, while absolutely an area that can see a higher number, was a great addition to an offensively successful Dallas basketball team. However, perhaps Parsons’ biggest and most valuable attribute is being a 6 foot 9 (or 6’10” with a ratchet depending on which former Florida Gator you ask) small forward is getting in the paint and rebounding. After seasons of 4.3 and 4.6 RPG, CP25 saw a drastic decline in rebounding as that number came down to under 4 a game at 3.9. With Dirk Nowitzki at power forward, a very key part of bringing in Chandler Parsons was to alleviate Nowitzki’s minute impact on the boards.

The Mavericks were dead last in rebound rating (yes, worse than Philly ((29th), according to ESPN.com’s John Hollinger. And Tyson Chandler is gone. 

Simply put, because this is a one sentence paragraph: that has to change. Parsons has to help on the glass. Has to. Has to.

The other part of “Chandsome’s” game that really disappointed was the passing game (Go Cowboys). Just like Parsons offers rare potential of doing some big man chores (rebounding), he does the same in the “little man” department. After improving upon his assist numbers in each of his first three seasons (2.1 to 3.5 to 4.0 APG) as a Houston Rocket (puke), that number dipped dramatically down to 2.4 in his first season as a Mav. Blocks and steals also came down a tiny tick just as long as I’m reliving all things depressing. 

A back court built with enough shooters to lose a war before it starts, Parsons got no help in floor spacing and henceforth his assist game last season. Jameer Nelson/Rajon Rondo and Monta Ellis don’t make three pointers. Especially the latter two (except for Monta who turns into Ray Allen in the Playoffs). That has turned on it’s head this season with the additions of free agents Wesley Matthews and Deron Williams. Both guys are floor spacers and shooters, opening things up for Parsons to not only get his passing game back to where it can be, but probably set a career high with 4+ APG.

The Mavericks –for the every year since the Championship team– are a completely different team. For better or worse, things are once again considerably different personnel wise. Hey, Dirk’s still here. With Tyson Chandler departed to Phoenix in Free Agency (and Amar’e Stoudemireto Miami if you want to count that), supplanted by a new duo of Zaza PachuliaSamuel Dalembert as well as the potential potentially potential awesome addition of JaVale McGee (I’m optimistic), the framework for the 2015-2016 Dallas Mavericks presents a better opportunity for Chandler Parsons.

Do not expect Chandler Parsons to become a 20 PPG scorer, but the peripheral stats, particularly rebounding and passing, should and honestly must go up. Despite a lot of capable ball handlers (Williams, Devin HarrisJ.J. BareaRaymond Felton‘s ghost) CP is expected to be utilized in more of a point-forward role, one he could become a serious stat stuffer in. Maybe not 2004 Andrei Kirilenko or 2006 Shawn Marion, but the ceiling is incredibly high for Parsons if all the desirable things fall into place. 

Of course, if he’s not healthy none of this matters anyway. Get well soon CP!

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