After posting a dominant preseason, the Dallas Mavericks have compiled an impressive 8-4 record (through Monday, November 20). If they keep up this pace, they would finish with around 55 wins and be a definite playoff team. Are the Mavs back? We shall see—it’s a long season. I wrote about the Dallas Mavericks in this month’s issue (see “ On the Rebound,”) and suggested that to improve on last year’s record, the team would have to work on defense and rebounding. To see how that effort is coming along, I will chart their progress in those areas each week. Do rebounds and blocks account for wins and losses for this year’s crew? Let’s take a look.
Thursday, January 11, 2001
The Mavericks have struck back after losing three of five two weeks ago to winning four of their last five. All four wins came on the road, where the Mavs enjoy the best road record in the Western Conference at 14-7. The teams top players, Michael Finley and Dirk Nowitzki, have led the charge. Nowitzki was high scorer in three games, Finley in two. But a big boost has come from Shawn Bradley and Christian Laettner, both of whom have played far beneath expectations this season. Bradley pulled down seven boards against Washington in a Mav 103-85 victory in our nation’s capital. Laettner added nine rebounds and fourteen points in a dominating win over the talented Timberwolves in Minnesota.
It’s good to see the team getting a lift from these former do-nothings. With the win over the Timberwolves, the Mavs gained a standings tie with San Antonio in the Midwest Division. Looks like the new year may be a good one for professional basketball in Texas.
Thursday, January 4, 2001
The Mavs have gone only 2-3 in their past five games, with losses to the dominant Lakers and the up-and-down Pistons and Rockets. Michael Finley was the high scorer in four out of the five games, replacing Dirk Nowitzki as the team’s resident gunner. What’s disturbing about Nowitzki relinquishing his “game high scorer” title is his accompanying drop in field goal percentage to 40 percent and the fact that he has only scored two 3-pointers out of sixteen attempts in the past four games. For the Mavs to really succeed, Dirk needs to get his shooting percentage back up to near 50 percent.
In other news, Friday’s game against Toronto will mark the beginning of coach Don Nelson’s absence from the team to fight prostate cancer. His son Donnie will take over during the six to eight weeks his dad will be out. The overriding question is, Will the son forever have to be “Donnie” because his father has dibs on “Don”? The answer is, Probably so, if he wants to distinguish himself in the NBA, even after his father retires. But it’s unfortunate that this very able coach—he assisted Lithuania in it’s near upset of the USA Dream Team last summer in Sydney—is indeed saddled with a first name whose most eminent previous owners include Donny Osmond and New-Kid Donnie Wahlberg. But good luck