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NBA Season Preview: Dallas Mavericks

Dec 15, 2011, 2:53 AM EDT

Dallas players Carter, Marion, Nowitzki, Odom, Kidd, and Terry pose for photos during media day at the team's headquarters in Dallas, Texas Reuters

Last season: 57-25, good enough for the third seed in the West, but then all the pieces clicked at the right time. The Mavericks rode a great post season from Dirk Nowitzki plus key contributions from Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea and others — they got a depth of contributions no other team could match — all the way to the NBA championship. Finally a ring for Dirk and Jason Kidd. Well deserved.

Head Coach: Rick Carlisle, who finally seemed to recognized for how good he is during the finals last year. Fantastic coach for a veteran team.

Key Departures: Tyson Chandler (that one hurts), Caron Butler, J.J. Barea. The changes — the guys brought in are on shorter contracts — is because Mark Cuban is trying to make sure they have cap space for next summer (to go after Deron Williams or Dwight Howard).

Key Additions: Lamar Odom, Vince Carter, Delonte West

Best case scenario: They rise up and win the NBA title again. If you are the defending champions that has to be the goal, right? Even if the team chasing the title looks a lot different than the team that won it. Dallas is still very good and very deep (something that matters in a condensed season).  You know they will get great play out of Dirk Nowitzki, solid point guard play from Jason Kidd, fantastic bench scoring from Jason Terry and good minutes from Shawn Marion. Plus, teams coming off a title tend to play with a real confidence, as if they are playing with house money and know the can win. These Mavs have that going for them.

For that to happen: To win it all a few things have to happen. First among them is Brendan Haywood is going to have to have the year of his career. He is the new starting center with Tyson Chandler in New York City. Haywood is a solid NBA big man — good rebounder, could score a little, played within himself and was a big body in the paint on the defensive end. The thing is Chandler was elite defensively and Haywood is going to have to bring his game up to that level for the Mavs to get another ring (or whatever Mark Cuban would give out).

Also Lamar Odom is going to have to play with the consistency and energy he did last season, Vince Carter needs to play within himself and like a veteran, and Roddy Beaubois is going to need to have a bounce back year and live up to the promise of his rookie year.

More likely the Mavericks will: Look like the Mavericks of earlier this decade. They will be good but come deep in the playoffs they will seem to be missing that something that gets them over he hump.

You know Nowitzki is going to put up numbers and maybe we’ll appreciate it a little more. With Jason Terry and Lamar Odom coming off the bench this is a very dangerous and versatile team that can attack you any number of ways. And coach Carlisle is good at putting his players in matchups they can exploit.

But when it gets to the second round of the playoffs or the Western Conference finals, the Mavericks are going to miss Chandler’s elite defense. They will be good but will miss the way he changed things on one end of the floor.

Prediction: 46-20. Dallas is in the same position as last year — they are a good team who needs to get hot and have a lot of thins go right for them in the playoffs to win it all. It could happen, lighting could strike twice. But more than likely they revert to form, bow out in the second round or conference finals, then stare longingly at what Tyson Chandler is doing in New York.

  1. 00maltliquor - Dec 15, 2011 at 3:13 AM

    West coast Celtics! Bunch of oldies but goodies. This squad would terrorize if this was 2005! That is a deep team ready to defend its championship. Good luck L.O.

  2. 1972wasalongtimeago - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    So are the Mavericks still America’s darlings? Let’s look at this team.

    Jason Kidd- Wife Beater
    Lamar Odom- Seems like a nice guy, but he is clearly well known for being a total dog at times
    Vince Carter- All-Time Dog. Hated by all of Canada.
    Delonte West-Not afraid to load up guitar cases with heavy artillery nor sleeping with a teammate’s mom (allegedly)
    Jason Terry- Goes 0-5, but then hits a shot and does the stupid airplane thing.
    Is Deshawn Stevenson on the team? If so, got a 450 on his SAT, a month later got a 1200, had to retake it and got a 600. Whoops.
    Dirk?- Screw Dirk. Would love to take a look at his family tree to see exactly what shennanigans his grandfather was up to back in the 30s and 40s. Cheering for Dirk is like pulling for the bad guys in Die Hard.

    Yes America. Congratulations. You got what you wanted. A team of miscreants will raise the banner. They beat a group of guys who sacrificed to play together, have never been in any trouble, showed incredible restraint while being unfairly criticized in every city they went to, and played out their contracts for the teams that drafted them (ahem, Carmelo, Chris Paul and Dwight Howard).

    • 1972wasalongtimeago - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:22 AM

      If/When Dallas signs Dwight Howard, do they become the villians? Does Dwight Howard get killed for leaving his loving fans in Orlando? Does Dallas’ losing become the only thing in which some miserable Americans find enjoyment?

    • renorocker - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:39 AM

      Miami fan??? The only thing that you forgot to mention is the fact that the mavericks championship was won by using team work (key word TEAM). Maybe if Lebron spent more time concentrating on team work and less time preparing for his nationally broadcasted signing show then maybe, just maybe the Heat would have won. Give Dallas its due, Mark Cuban is the best owner in the NBA and you know it.

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:07 AM

        You are such a simpleton. You think a press conference in July 2010, affected the outcome of a game in June 2011? How come it didn’t affect the Eastern Conference Finals? Or the Celtics series?

        Lebron should have handled the “decision” better; but really, what was the big deal? All the trangressions on the Mavs roster are FAR worse than “The Decision”. It’s actually not even close.

        The Heat had a flawed team. All year, teams were able to beat the Heat by going bonkers from 3. If teams weren’t red-hot from 3, they lost. The Mavs simply didn’t miss. They won. Congrats to them. Now enough is enough. This wasn’t USA/USSR Hockey in 1980.

        And I love Cuban, but you also know that Arison is pretty damn good too.

    • passerby23 - Dec 15, 2011 at 9:34 PM

      Celebrating a big shot after being cold most of the game – what a miscreant! Dirk’s grandfather who “might’ve” been up to something in the 30s – what a miscreant! Someone this bitter must have a model life of perfection.

      • 1972wasalongtimeago - Dec 16, 2011 at 11:00 AM

        Just speaking the truth. The Heat don’t deserve the hate they received and will continue to receive. They should be applauded and celebrated

      • borderline1988 - Dec 16, 2011 at 11:46 AM

        “Just speaking the truth. The Heat don’t deserve the hate they received and will continue to receive. They should be applauded and celebrated”

        But the team that actually won the championship and beat the Heat – they don’t deserve to be applauded and celebrated?

        I understand you’re bitter over your team’s loss and the ‘hate’ they received. But if you don’t want to be labeled a hypocrite, you should also recognize the Mav’s excellence in the post-season.

        They were clearly the best team in the NBA at the time. They soundly beat the Heat in the last 3 games of the series – they clearly looked like a better team than the Heat. And if you think they just got lucky with the 3s against Miami – remember, they destroyed LA in the 2nd round. Dallas was an exceptionally good team that peaked at the right time.

        I agree with Kurt – it remains to be seen if Dallas can peak again. I don’t think so, because Haywood is not Chandler. Dallas has always had a deep team with scoring ability, but what took them over the edge was Chandler. Without him, they will look exactly like every other Mavs team in the 2000’s..great in the regular season, but just not good enough to beat the other peaking teams in the playoffs

  3. entropy13 - Dec 16, 2011 at 12:57 AM

    “then stare longingly at what Tyson Chandler is doing in New York.” Why would they “stare longingly” at New York when both are predicted to go out of the 2nd round (and in the case of the Mavs 2nd round or Con. Finals)?

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