Long Road Ahead For Dallas?
Through the first two games of the 2011-2012 season, the defending champion Dallas Mavericks have shown little on the court that would even remotely resemble that of the best team in the NBA.
Some of this is understandable, as the Mavs have lost some key contributors from last season’s remarkable Finals run. Dallas is missing it’s defensive MVP from last season in Tyson Chandler, it’s best perimeter defender in DeShawn Stevenson and a spark plug off the bench in J.J. Barea.
However, the team’s lackluster effort thus far in the young season likely could not be described as understandable. With talented veterans Lamar Odom, Vince Carter and Delonte West coming aboard; the Mavericks were expected to be able to weather the storm early-on this season as the team gelled throughout the year.
This has not happened.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Mavericks’ head coach Rick Carlisle said after the team’s banner raising blunder against the Miami HEAT. “Every day we’re going to have to make some gradual strides to get better, so that’s where we’re at. We had some stretches where we got some traction, but our consistency is not there. We’ve got to keep studying and keep working on it.”
After last night’s 115-93 beat down at the hands of the Denver Nuggets, Dallas is now 0-2 on the season and has fallen behind by 30 or more points in each of those contests. Because of furious runs by the Mavs’ reserves in each of those games, neither final score was reflective of the type of effort Dallas exhibited on either end of the floor.
Aside from West, who has shown flashes of what he can do in leading the Mavs bench during garbage time, the other two Mavericks’ offseason acquisitions have failed to live up to the billing of their former All-Star pedigree. Odom is a combined 2-16 from the field to start his career with Dallas and was ejected from the first contest have arguing with an official, and Carter has been largely relegated to the bench during key stretches for the Mavs.
The aforementioned Carter, who started at the two-spot against the HEAT but was benched at halftime and subsequently came of the pine last night against Denver, believes this team can and will play better going forward.
“No excuses,” Carter told HOOPSWORLD Sunday evening. “We’ve got to find a way, plain and simple. We’ve just got to figure out how we can get it done. Everybody’s dealt the same deck of cards, its just who can figure it out the fastest.”
Two of the biggest factors in the Mavs’ poor start this season, rebounding and defense, have been embarrassingly inept through two games. Dallas has allowed each team to shoot nearly 49 percent from the field and were out-rebounded by a combined 30 boards against the HEAT and Nuggets.
Aside from turning back time and deciding to keep Chandler from signing with the New York Knicks, a revival of energy and a focus on continuity are the only things that can help Dallas get back to playing championship-style basketball. With not much time between games and a shortened overall schedule, this team must find a way to speed up that process if it hopes to be a contender in April.
“We’re going to have to play a lot better basketball and we’re going to have to forge an identity with this team,” Carlisle said. “It’s a different team and that’s work. It’s going to take work, it’s going take honesty and it’s not going to be easy.
“We’ve got to work to make quantum leaps as quickly and as often as we can.”
The one positive for Dallas going forward is the simple fact that there are still 64 games left on the schedule. With the type of talent that still resides on this team, namely former NBA and Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki, a strong run deep into the playoffs should still be a realistic possibility.
“I think we’ll be OK. I think we’re going to make it happen sooner than later,” Mavs’ forward Shawn Marion told HOOPSWORLD. “One game at a time, man… Just one game at a time, that’s all you can do.”
It’s way too early to start throwing out absolutes here in regards to what this team is going to be going forward but it’s difficult to simply shrug off the disturbing lack of effort the starters of this team have exuded through the first two days of the season. Energy has nothing to do with chemistry and this squad’s demeanor suggests a Finals hangover is in desperate need of getting a remedy.