Another Dallas Mavericks home game, another very tough, worry raising loss. The Denver Nuggets beat the Mavs 115-93 in a game that went pretty much the same way that opening night against the Miami Heat transpired. Dirk Nowitzki was the only one doing any damage for the Mavs while the Nuggets cruised in their NBA season opener.
Defense, again, was the key word. Dallas have yet to show they remember how to play it. Lets not press the panic button yet. Two games in the NBA season means nothing, but in a shorter season it does bring up more warning signs than a regular 82 one. Lamar Odom, Delonte West and Vince Carter have added nothing to the team so far, while the rest just look their age, and slow. Very slow.
The Mavs faced another lightning quick team on Monday night, with a deep and offensively capable bench. Ty Lawson scored 27 points and added 5 assists while Andre Miller and Al Harrington both scored 18 off the bench. Like in the Heat-Mavs game from opening night, the second quarter was when everything went wrong for Dallas. A misleading fourth gave didn’t make the result that much respectable.
So where are the problems? Too many to mention right now. First of all, the loss of Tyson Chandler, the heart of the Mavs’ defensive effort last season. Lamar Odom can play defense and so can Shawn Marion, but they do it individually. Dirk Nowitzki never bothered with it too much and Jason Kidd prefers point guard who try to post up on him, not fast guys like Lawson.
Like against the Heat, there was a huge problem with rebounding, getting out rebounded 47-37. Dirk Nowitzki and Brendan Haywood combined reach 9 boards. Allowing 40 points in the paint again was another sign of a missing Chandler, although the Mavs did record 3 blocks this time.
No one to sub for Jason Kidd is another problem. Delonte West, not a point guard, started this time, while Jason Terry had a bad night with only six points. Rodrique Beaubois was decent with 10 in 15 minutes, but he doesn’t look like the answer right now.
Fact is, age is a problem very early on in the season. Teams are un-trained after very short training camp periods, unable to adjust to the changes. Being a young and athletic team helps you get around those issues early on before the guys actually get to know each other and used to it. The Mavs aren’t athletic and aren’t young. Problem is, they’re not making up for their deficiencies by any extra hustle.
I’m pretty sure the Mavericks aren’t going to be this bad every night. They are the NBA champions, and things will catch up. Lamar Odom won’t be shooting 1-10 (he’s so far 2-16 this season) every night, and Carlisle will resolve a rotation and lineup. My advice right now would be to start Jason Terry, who is more familiar in the system and simply better than Delonte West until Vince Carter gets used to his new surroundings and diminishing role.
Dallas have a two day rest now before travelling to Oklahoma and facing the red hot Thunder, with the Durant-Westbrook tandem looking like a 60 point duo every night. Not exactly the recipe for a win and it is likely the Mavs are 0-3 by the time we reach Friday, but time and training, plus some head adjustments, will eventually straighten this ship out.