Now that the Mavs are done playing "real" opponents, they'll face a supposedly soft stretch of the schedule in which they face four straight below-.500 Eastern Conference teams. The first on the block: the New Jersey Nets. The Mavs got rolled when they went to New Jersey this year 101-82. Of course, Jason Kidd was a major part of them getting rolled. Now, there's a new sheriff in town...
Devin fills in quite nicely
It shouldn't be too surprising to some of us, but Devin Harris is thriving in a looser environment where his coach isn't constantly reigning him into be a distributor. So far in his five games in New Jersey, he has averaged 18.4 points and 6 assists. He's still adjusting to playing with new teammates, but it's obvious that he's jumped in with both feet and has quickly earned a starting position. He scored 21 points and had 8 assists last night and will be gunning to prove the brass with his old team wrong. Expect Devin to try and do too much tonight, but also expect him to make a few highlight-worthy plays for the purpose of pleasing the fans who loved him and the management that eventually rejected him.
RJ and Carter are left behind
Although the Nets couldn't have expected to move Vince Carter and Jason Kidd this year, they surely tried. Carter's huge contract and his tendency to loaf in the middle of big contracts likely deterred teams, and the Nets can probably expect to ride his contract out until its bitter end. Richard Jefferson's deal is similar to Carter's, but he makes slightly less. Still, his value is higher than Carter's and he is three years younger, so if the Nets truly want to build from the ground up, RJ is more likely to be dealt. But, the Nets have to know that both likely won't be leaving anytime soon, they will try and build around the core of RJ, Carter and Harris for a few years. We'll see how that works out.
Krstic finally getting up to speed
After missing all of December and January, center Nenad Krstic is finally back to contributing at an acceptable level. In his last three games he's averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds and is shooting 60 percent from the floor. He provides them with big man depth they have sorely lacked for most of the season, and his quiet production could be a key for them down the stretch as they try and muscle their way into the playoffs.
Is it even worth it to make the playoffs as an 8 seed in the East?
-Scooter Hendon, Hoops Nerd