Mark Cuban and head coach Rick Carlisle have assembled a team that is vastly different to the one the Dallas Mavericks had in the 2012-13 season.
Every team competes hard, but after last season’s debacle; Dirk Nowitzki missing the first 27 games, and O.J. Mayo just not being the same once Dirk returned, the Mavs missed out on the playoffs for the first time in a long time, something a Mavs’ fan wasn’t use to.
But after trashing the roster that won the 2011 NBA title, Cuban has made a team that has the same fire and experience as that title team.
Bringing in a flurry of veterans that know how to play the game efficiently and effectively, the Mavericks have a great chance at returning to the playoffs and making a run to the Finals.
Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert headline a rather successful and underrated offseason, and will make Dallas’ roster very competitive and very fun to watch this season, as the case in the Mavs’ season opener on Oct. 30.
The Mavericks got their season underway as they hosted the Atlanta Hawks, coming away with an impressive 118-109 victory.
Ellis had a great debut for the Mavs, scoring a game-high 32 points on 11-of-17 shooting and added eight assists. His 32 points were the most for any player making his Mavs’ debut, and the most by a Mav in a season opener since Dirk had 34 against Washington to start the 2009 season.
Nowitzki looked like the Dirk of old, adding 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting and was on fire from deep, shooting 4-of-6 behind the arc.
The two-man game worked the entire night, making the Mavs a fun team to watch for the entire season.
Calderon added a game-high 11 assists, while Dalembert grabbed nine boards in their debuts for Dallas.
That’s the fun part. The competitive part came in a 113-105 loss to James Harden and Dwight Howard on Nov. 1.
Nowitzki shot 6-of-15 for 22 points to lead the team, but would’ve had more and probably ended any hopes of a Mavericks’ comeback when he fouled out with less than seven minutes to play.
After being down 16 after the first quarter, the Mavericks fought back to make it respectable in the fourth.
Ellis added 20 points, but didn’t shoot as well, missing 12 shots. Calderon continues to struggle from the field, missing all of his eight attempts, and Dalembert had six points and five rebounds as he too played in foul trouble.
We knew coming in that Houston will be a top-four team in the West, or at least compete for that mark. Harden scored 34 points while Howard added 13 points and 16 rebounds.
We said that this first week will determine how the Mavs will do this season and where they stand in a loaded conference.
Calderon will get his shots down, and as a floor general, Ellis and Dirk will get good looks.
Ellis will play a lot better this year then recent years, as he’s with a more veteran-led team. Calderon and Dirk is a far better upgrade than the likes of Brandon Jennings and anyone who played in Golden State.
Dalembert won’t score much, getting his majority of his points inside the paint and coming off tip-ins and putbacks, but his main role will be to protect that paint and block shots.
The Mavs return home to play the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 2, then will face the Kobe-less Lakers, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the much improved Minnesota T’Wolves next week.
As long as the Mavs stay out of foul trouble, it will be big year for Carlisle’s team and a return to the playoffs looks promising.
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