Tonight the Dallas Mavericks will play the first of back-to-back games against the teams from the City of Angels. The Clippers, led by rookie stud Blake Griffin, will get the first shot at the boys from Big D. The Mavs are getting hot, having won four games in a row, including road wins at the Jazz and the Suns. The Mavs have been winning, but it has not been pretty.
The Mavericks have been trailing late in the last three games, starting slowly before turning it on to grab the win. Head Coach Rick Carlisle used the two day break to give the team some rest and to work on shooting and defense. Carlisle said, following Tuesday’s practice, that the team will need to do a better job of shooting and limiting their turnovers if they hope to get off to a better start.
Carlisle also said that the team will need to do a better job of rebounding as both the Clippers and the Lakers are among the best in the NBA in that category. This means that Tyson Chandler, the team’s best rebounder, will have to come up big on the glass and avoid foul trouble. Brendan Haywood and Dirk Nowitzki will also be counted on to clean the glass. Perhaps Brian Cardinal and Ian Mahinmi will see some action and help provide some much needed size for the Mavs
Missing from practice on Tuesday were Jason Terry, who had a death in the family, and J.J. Barea who had to attend to a family matter in San Diego. Both players are expected to play tonight. Hopefully both players will be ready and able to perform well. Terry has been a big reason for the four game winning streak, averaging just over 16 points per contest coming off the bench. His quest to be the best sixth man in the game continues to gain ground.
The quest to capture the second seed in the Western Conference has taken an interesting twist. While the Mavs are still only one game back of the Lakers, the suddenly injury-plagued San Antonio Spurs, are no only three and a half games ahead of the Lakers. If the Spurs continue their free fall, it is possible that the Lakers or the Mavericks could sneak into claim the top seed.
Granted there are not a lot of games left and the chances of this are slim, the possibility should provide added incentive and greater urgency to the Mavericks to take their performance to the next level. Home court would be a great advantage, not to mention it would mean the Mavs would be riding some serious momentum into the playoffs.
But that is getting ahead of ourselves just a tad. The Mavs must take care of business tonight first. They must get off to a better start, keep Blake Griffin off the boards and away from the low post, and take care of the basketball. If they can do that, there is no reason the team won’t leave the court with their fifth straight win and set the stage for an epic game tomorrow night!