Mavs-Spurs Rivalry No Longer Heated?
When Spurs coaches gathered players Saturday to go over individual matchups for tonight’s game against Dallas, point guard Tony Parker had to do a double-take to confirm exactly who his team was playing.
“It doesn’t look like the Mavericks,” Parker said. “It feels like it’s another team.”
The Dallas team set to take the AT&T Center floor for the first of four Southwest Division meetings bears little resemblance to the much-hated squad that spent the past decade stoking a healthy and heated rivalry with the Spurs.
All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki has yet to play this season after undergoing knee surgery during training camp. Jason Terry, chief provocateur in the I-35 tug-of-war for eight seasons, is firing up jumpers in Boston. Jason Kidd has relocated to New York, where the 39-year-old point guard has been instrumental in resurrecting the Knicks to relevance.
In their place are a collection of players with no connection to the rivalry, who stir no emotion in the Spurs’ fan base: Chris Kaman, Elton Brand, Darren Collison, O.J
Having lost three in a row to fall to 12-15, their worst start since 1999-2000, the Mavericks are as unrecognizable in the standings as they are on the court. Since winning the 2011 NBA championship, Dallas has undergone almost a complete makeover, with only four players remaining from that roster. Only one player who logged minutes in the Finals against Miami — forward Shawn Marion — will be in uniform tonight.
“It’s different,” Parker said. “At the same time, they’re very dangerous, because they have a lot of guys who can get hot.”