‘Who’s Who?’ Mavs Get Back To Even

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A couple of bearded interlopers showed up on the Dallas Mavericks’ bench Tuesday night in Detroit, which was surprising mostly because someone was able to differentiate them from the strangers usually there already.

Sean Williams? Yi Jianlian? Delonte West? When you think about some of those guys who are or have been on Dallas’ bench in place of players no longer around – Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson – is it really such a stretch that Paying Customer and Drinking Customer – as one giant sports network dubbed them – might show up wedged between West and Vince Carter.

Just seemed to us at the HTB hideout like a couple more guys who wouldn’t be welcomed at the White House.

The Mavericks climbed finally to .500 Tuesday with their 100-86 victory over the Pistons, getting 9-of-10 shooting from Dirk Nowitzki and, with Jason Kidd out again (strained back), 10 assists, five steals and six points from West. Carter dished five assists too, as Dallas got Detroit down (23-9 lead) and kept Detroit down (16 straight points in the third quarter). At 5-5, the Mavs reached even for the first time since they got their rings.

Just winning away from home, after an 0-3 road start, was promising, given last season’s success (28-13) and the Mavs’ game at Boston Wednesday. “Momentum has been elusive for us,” coach Rick Carlisle said, “so we respect how tough it is competitively in this league right now, but our goal is to build on this.”

Carter, West, Brandan Wright and fresh-from-the-NBA-D-League Yi (Williams was farmed out) aren’t exactly guys wearing funny nose-and-glasses. But they do embody the fact that the Mavericks might be the most altered defending champions, in personnel terms, since Michael Jordan-Phil Jackson gang in Chicago broke up in 1998-99. Curiously, that one came in the wake of a lengthy lockout too.

That one was more intentional, with former Bulls general manager Jerry Krause aching to rebuild and avoid the dreaded “old Celtics” fate. The Mavs’ plight, if it can be called that, is the product of free agency and careful budget decisions for future opportunities in a new CBA world.

The encouraging news for Dallas is that Carlisle isn’t Tim Floyd – in general terms and in keeping his team focused on the here-and-now – and that much of last season’s core is back. By late April, they might be able to properly incorporate and regularly win with Lamar Odom and the other new faces, maybe even up to the standards of last postseason.

Just so they keep those two grungy guys on the inactive list.

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13 Comments

  1. resthold says:

    Tyson Chandler is good on defense. He might be the 2nd best defensive center after Dwight Howard. I’m not sure if he is a good fit for whatever Coach D’Antoni is trying to do, though.

  2. DirkFan says:

    Tyson Chandler is wayyyy overrated. He may have been a good fit for Dallas at the time, but he’s not the defensive “savior” he’s been made out to be. See how well the Knicks are doing with him LOL. Anyway, now that he got the money he wanted he’ll probably get injured and be back on the trading block yet again.

  3. alanis says:

    I think Dwight Howard is a big factor to help the team in defense. Go Mavs!

  4. Liao says:

    DO THE MAVS NEED A BIG TRADE TO REPEAT OR IS IT JUST ME??

  5. Not a Fanboy says:

    I really don’t think that they have what it takes to be champs again. They still have Dirk and Terry, but Kidd is old and injured, Chandler is gone, Butler is gone (Even though he was out for the playoffs), and Barea is gone. Barea was probably the best bench player in the playoffs, and Chandler anchored the D. Haywood and Mahinmi really are not two guys who should be starting, maybe they can be bench players. Vince Carter doesn’t have the competetive drive and determination to do well in the playoffs. Odom is the only major pickup that will noticeably improve the team. The Heat, Bulls, Lakers, Thunder, Trailblazers, and a few other teams have made drastic improvements without losing too much, if only in the development of their players. Whatever team gets DH12 will have a drastic makeover as well. I really don’t think they have what it takes to go past the second round after this offseason.

  6. Chris says:

    We have to remain realistic guys. Carter is a walking corpse and won’t contribute as much as he could 5-7 years back and even then he didn’t have a consistent jumper. What was so special that he did so far? That 3 against the Thunder would be almost the only thing worth noting. He isn’t ageing well and it will come back to haunt us when we need a second scorer.

    Someone really needs to kick Lamar in the butt and tell him to believe in himself and he’ll start contributing right away. Now subpar is not enough to describe his game. But I do believe he will come out of himself with time if he cares enough.

    I love Ian Mahinmi too, what a great energizer he turned out to be. His aggressiveness on the boards is sometimes key. Now he only needs to develop his athleticism and needs as many minutes as possible to get experience and avoid committing silly fouls.

    And Dirk needs to remain our guy, needs to keep his jumper intact and try to play the best he can do on defence. Without him it’s all falling apart.

    I still believe we can put a good effort and make a run in the playoffs despite teams like Oklahoma who are mightily hungry to achieve it all. Go Mavs!

  7. dew says:

    people are crazy. vc is washed up and odom is out of shape and distracted like tony romo. mavs lose chandler and pretty much their intire defense down low as well as getting a washed up west who hasnt played like the west of old since cleveland. we all know mavs will only be a .500 team this year and maybe even a few games under. they beat detroit and people say they are a championship team…rofl. this team reeks of old and will be wasted by teams like the lakers, spurs, thunder, and clippers. if they make it that far…no way they can beat chicago or miami with this years squad. enough said.

  8. Mhz says:

    I agree than Tyson was huge for us in Dallas, but he moved on and so should we.

  9. Mavs are favorite to win this year. You have Carter and it´s over, period. Howard and Rose Together? Crazy….

  10. Chris says:

    Honestly, despite our 5-5 start, this Mavs team in my opinion is probably the best Maverick team EVER. Think about it, we FINALLY have a shooting guard in VC. We have a pretty dangerous Center duo in Haywood and Mahinimi (Throw Yi into the mix and there’s definetly a lot of versatility there). We have a Barea replacement in Delonte West that CAN actually defend by doing things other then taking charges. Odom will get going and will be just as impactful as ever. Plus, with Rick’s coaching scheme (by this I mean LOTS of movement on offense, and the zone defense) it perfectly fits with all the players we have. Last year an overachieving bunch won the title when they really shouldn’t have – this year they actually now HAVE the talent and I think we should all expect to see them vs Miami in the finals yet again. What a great rivalry!

  11. Hmmm says:

    I love the Mavs! Istill don’t think all of the new players put together can compensate for Tyson. But I’ll be happy to be proven wrong.

  12. Yeah says:

    It’s just a matter of time before Odom turns into the beast he was in L.A. and remember Mahinmi, he is getting a lot of rebounds & dunks every night, West is finding his dribbling again & hell even Carter can be a boost he is playing pretty good, i thought his NBA career was over after ugly seasons in Orlando & Phoenix i’m glad i was wrong, GO MAVS!

    • Adaham says:

      It was interesting to see the start of the season. I can’t deny I was worried when I saw Chandler leaving, on the other hand, I remember that Chandler had a row of “disappointing” seasons behind his back before the Mavs gave him a chance. I think the point with Dallas (mostly the combination Carlisle-Nowitzki-Kidd) is that the system they are using can make the players better.

      Vince Carter could become another great example of that. While he was supposed to be a Nr. 2 or Nr. 3 all-around player on those teams (and he usually couldn’t fulfill that role anymore), his role now seems to be much more restrained to catch and shoots alternating with drives. But most importantly, he’s not needed “to take off the pressure from Dirk” as a second go-to guy, but he’s one of many puzzle pieces in the system.

      In the first games, obviously the new players were still alien to that formula, but you can now see that some of them are unexpectedly blossoming. Carter is very solid so far and Mahnimi is one great positive surprise, I really feel he saw his chance with Chandler leaving and has stepped it up, good energy.

      Best thing is, that Dallas is getting back to it’s old ways of success, share the load over many shoulders. After two off-shooting nights, Dirk is finding his shooting-touch again. 9 out of 10 from the field, and for the rest getting the team involved. Dallas has also thrived when multiple people score in double figures. And that’s why it’s easier for people to make an. You don’t need Carter to give you 15-20 points a night, it’s perfectly fine if he makes 10 points a night, as long as the 9 other guys are doing their job as well.

      It’s interesting to see Odom struggling the most so far with adjusting to the system. I’m sure he’ll catch the drift, but I believe it’s an indication that adjusting from the Phil Jackson-triangle to the system of Dallas isn’t so easy. To me, when the Mavs get their game going (like in some playoff games last year), they’re playing “total basketball”. Beautiful defensive surprises, ball movement out of a hoops dream, and on top of that a humble Bball-god in Dirk Nowitzki. Highflyin’ is all nice and well, but in the end I can’t help but digging shooting games like 9-10. That’s true efficiency, helping the team just when it needs him.