Of the biggest NBA clichés to come out the last couple years is that Dallas can get to the NBA Finals if only they'd play a little defense. But to trade for defensive players they'd have to get rid of their offensive ones, and that has happened to a point. Daniels, Howard and Dampier play decent defense, but is it good enough to get Dallas anywhere other than semi-finals exit?.One thing that hasn't changed is their offense. This is still a score-first heavy team, and is at the top-10 in scoring, assists and field goal%.
Marquis Daniels and Josh Howard aren't on the court to score, but they still contribute in areas that Finley and Keith Van Horn don't. At 97.5 PPG, they haven't reached the century mark yet but you can expect it soon. Injuries to Stackhouse and Terry haven't hurt them as badly as we thought. Devin Harris and Darrell Armstrong have both done an excellent job replacing him, and Armstrong is one of the best PG defenders in the NBA.
Still, the biggest problem remains the same. They are 9th in Points Allowed, a huge improvement from some of the other Mavs teams in the past. Yet when the 4th quarter comes around, they have serious problems stopping people. They have the aggressiveness down, but Dallas is still weak in several positions. At Center, Dampier is off-and-on on both sides of the floor. Nowitzki is poor guarding people face-to-face, and commonly Daniels and Howard are injured.
While the Mavericks still score, it's not without slight concern. Michael Finley and Steve Nash are gone, so Dirk Nowitzki needs to score big throughout the season. He's done it so far with 26.0 PPG, but even he slows down once in awhile. Dirk's shot attempts are often forced and still attempts too many 3-pointers for a Power Forward.
Dallas isn't going to provide much support off the bench. DeSagna Diop, Devin Harris and Jerry Powell are getting playing time. It's far too inexperienced to trump powerhouses like San Antonio.
When Stackhouse, Howard and Terry return their bench will be deeper and Dallas' scoring will go up. Avery Johnson expresses a defensive emphasis that Don Nelson never did, and it's benefiting. Johnson is 30-7 since taking over and Dallas will need that kind record to take control of the division.
The Spurs won't relinquish the lead in this lifetime so it's 4th place or worse for the Mavs.So if I was you, I would not go rushing to my online sportsbook to bet on the Mavericks winning a title this year..Check out our online sportsbook reviews on the net for lines and odds for all the games.
By: David Pincus