Over the course of 48 hours Dallas has seen what this Mavs team is bringing, not just to the hot-as-lava Western conference, but also to the league as a whole this season.
Ten days before the official start of the season, the Mavs have the best frontcourt since their 2011 Championship season and possible one of the best in the league. The Mavs also boast a surprisingly deep bench that brings new meaning to the word “hungry.” And if Dirk, Monta, Chandler and crew can stay healthy, remain cohesive and focused on and off the court, this could be a very interesting season.
The Mavs could be bringing the whole package to the 2014-15 season. Offense, Defense (enough to get by). Rebounding. Three-point shooting. Dedicated starters. A deep bench that can keep you in the game. Chemistry. Energy. Grit. Excitement. We are far from perfect and still have much to work on. But the makings of something special have been on full display this preseason. The makings of the whole package.
We saw glimpses of part of that package last night as emotions were riding high into last night’s preseason game five against the Indiana Pacers, a team the Mavs beat only six days before. The Mavs were coming off a win from the sizzling Cavaliers and were on a second of a back-to-back, their first and only this pre-season.
Friday’s game featured the starting unit of star Dirk, Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons, Monta Ellis and Jameer Nelson and the addition of Devin Harris, and boy did they look good. From start to the finish the boys in blue were in top form offensively, with four of their starters racking up double figures including Parson who also finished the night with 19 points, as did Nelson. Dirk was, well Dirk and finished with 16 points on 5-of-14 shooting and nine rebounds.
The Mavs spent the entire Cavs game in the zone – literally and figuratively – as they implemented their zone defense for the entire game with each starter flawlessly covering his area with laser-like focus. There were some kinks that need to be worked out but that zone defense looks like the Real McCoy. This is part of that package the Mavs are bringing this season.
Turnovers were high in the game but the starting 5 plus 1 made those turnovers work for them, converting them into 25 points. Little things like rebounding need work but the Mavs prevailed and handed the Cavs their first loss of the preseason.
Saturday saw our starting five plus one enjoying some bench time (in a good way) and resting. The starters sat and the bench more than stepped up. Leading the charge were Gal Mekel, the only real point guard on the floor, Jae Crowder, veteran Richard Jefferson and Ivan Johnson and Greg Smith.
They all played their respective roles flawlessly and wasted no time showing up offensively and showing off their depth for the majority of the game, effectively sending the Pacers into a whiplash. Al-Farouq Aminu contributed a double-double as well as the Maverick bench went into halftime with a 14 point lead and showed the strength of not just the starting five but also virtually all the other players on the roster too.
Fourth quarter we all know went a little downhill with the Mavs bench seemingly fighting off fatigue, getting lax on defense and couldn’t find or make a shot to save their lives. The Pacers on the other hand found their offense and went on an 18-3 run and the rest was history.
Despite this tale of two different games, over two different nights and with two different results, the Mavs showed they have the goods – both with the starters and with their bench.
The 2014-15 Mavs will have to continue to improve on defense, but they just may have the whole package. Chemistry, cohesion and being able to read each other’s mannerisms and anticipate movements will come as they play together more. We’ll see for sure in less than 10 days with the official start of the NBA season. Then it will be Mavs all day, every day baby.