Shawn Marion

Dallas Mavericks Preview

No team has undergone a more profound roster makeup over the past two years than the Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion are the only remaining productive pieces from the 2011 NBA Championship team.

The current backcourt of OJ Mayo and Darren Collison screams potential. OJ Mayo, former 2008 #3 draft pick, had averaged nearly 20 points as a starter during his first two seasons in the NBA. Darren Collison averaged nearly 18 points and double digit assists when running the pick and roll offense in New Orleans. Now that these two players are put in positions where they can succeed-OJ Mayo as a starter and Darren Collison utilizing the pick and roll tool in the flow offense he will be commanding, it is quite possible that these players will reach the zenith of their basketball productivity.

The frontcourt of Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, and Chris Kaman at first glance seems like an outstanding asset. A top-10 player in the league, an elite defender, and a top 5 low-post scorer is not indicative of too much concern. However, it should when Dirk Nowitzki will be absent for the first month of the season, recovering from an arthroscopic surgery, and Chris Kaman is one of the most injury prone centers in the league. It seems like the frontcourt really cannot get any consistency until midseason. That will translate to a lot of initial struggles for the Dallas Mavericks, having to learn to play without an offensive legend in Dirk Nowitzki and then having to put him back into the system. There is certainly a tall order on the Mavericks roster this season.

Last but not least, the bench of Elton Brand, Brandan Wright, Rodrigue Beaubois, Dahntay Jones, and Jae Crowder is a highly effective and variegated unit that complements the starting lineup. This group has gritty defenders, shooters, paint players, veteran experience, and young athleticism to help establish a productive unit. So, let us hope that Rick Carlisle will somehow mesh these pieces in the right manner to extend that streak of twelve consecutive years in the NBA playoffs. Let us hope. 

Russell Westbrook scored 29 points, Kevin Durant added 26 in an off-shooting performance and the Oklahoma City Thunder clawed out a 102-99 victory over defending champion Dallas on Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.

Durant hit two free throws with 50.4 seconds left to give Oklahoma City a 98-97 lead, and James Harden hit four more foul shots to close it out for the Thunder.

Jason Terry missed two 3-point attempts from the left wing in the final five seconds that could have tied it.

Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 31 points and Shawn Marion scored 15. The Mavericks led in the closing minutes of both road games but couldn’t even manage a split.

Game 3 is Thursday night in Dallas.

Durant put the Thunder ahead to stay after salvaging two key points with Oklahoma City inbounding the ball with only 2.6 seconds left on the shot clock. He grabbed the inbounds pass from Harden while headed toward the sideline, and Terry was called for a foul for bumping him.

Durant hit both foul shots, and Nowitzki missed his chance to answer with a short jumper from the left side at the other end.

Marion fouled Harden on the rebound, and the league’s top scoring reserve — only eight days removed from a concussion as the result of Metta World Peace’s elbow to the head — also converted both free throws. He hit two more with 15.6 seconds left after Terry got the Mavs within one with a driving layup.

After losing both of their home games to Dallas in last year’s Western Conference finals, the Thunder barely got by in the rematch. Durant hit a jumper with 1.5 seconds left to win the first game 99-98 on Saturday night.

Dallas was up seven points with two-and-a-half minutes left in Game 1 and just a point in the final minute of Game 2.

Beforehand, Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks downplayed a rivalry blossoming along Interstate Highway 35.

“Right now, they beat us one time last season. I don’t know if that’s considered a rivalry,” he said. “It takes more than one or seasons, but definitely it’s there for the making.”

Maybe he spoke too soon.

When Nowitzki and Perkins finally got back on the court together, the Mavericks’ All-Star exacted some revenge while getting his team back in the game. He went on a personal 10-2 run, with all of the points coming while he was matched up against Perkins, to get the deficit down to 50-47.

The Mavs pulled ahead in the first five minutes of the second half, as the game turned into a foul fest and the Thunder made only one basket in the first seven minutes.