The NBA All-Star break is upon us. The season began about 12 days ago and we're at the break.
The Mavs are 21-13 and 2.5 games back of San Antonio in the Southwest division. All things considered, not bad.
The loss to the Lakers was discouraging because Kobe finished 4-of-15 with seven turnovers. The Mavs were pounded inside as Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol combined for 43 points and 23 rebounds. While the Lakers were pounding away inside, the Mavs cranked it up from outside to the tune of 8-for-32 from deep.
PLUSSES: When healthy, and this team is not as guard Delonte West remains out with a hand/finger injury, the Mavs are solid top to bottom. West has been a solid addition, and able replacement for J.J. Barea.
Dirk Nowitzki appears to be back in regular form, and Shawn Marion is playing as well as he ever has in his career. Vince Carter has been a willing participant.
Jason Kidd may be 90 years old, but this team does not function properly when he's out.
Jason Terry has been consistent with his game throughout the years.
Center Brendan Haywood has been better with increased minutes after Tyson Chandler left.
MINUSES: Lamar Odom is a non-factor. He's merely here as a contract the team can trade in the offseason.
Roddy Beaubois showed some things early, but is now in the dog house.
This team still needs a penetrator in the worst way, and West may be the only guy who can do it reliably. Dominique Jones has the ability to do it, but he's not going to receive the type of minutes necesssary to make a difference.
Haywood's production has improved somewhat, but he's not the defender Chandler is.
The team can become very jump-shot centric.
Age. Shortly after the All-Star break ends the Mavs will go through a stretch of nine games in 12 days. There is no way that is not going to have a negative effect.
The Mavs remain a strength in numbers outfit, and given what they did last spring and how they have performed thus far they deserve the benefit of the doubt to prove they can do it again.
But it's easy to see how one might have reservations about their chances.
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