It's almost humorous to go back to October and training camp and remember one of Avery Johnson's top priorities: sticking with a set starting five. Nineteen lineups later, well, it hasn't exactly gone as planned.
Not that it's Johnson's fault. There's been injuries, suspensions and a couple of personal days taken. But, the biggest culprit has been what to do at the shooting guard position. It's just been a mess and nothing's really worked. Eleven games in with Jason Kidd and the Mavs have already used three different starters at two-guard.
Perhaps Johnson will stick with Jerry Stackhouse, who's started two games in a row now and likely will make it three on Wednesday against the Bobcats.
"We hope to get a set starting five," Johnson said. "We're not opposed to changing and use multiple lineups, but right now we'd like to see if this lineup can work for us. We've tried a lot of other lineups, now we're on this one."
During training camp, Johnson practically swore up and down that Stackhouse would not be a starter for this team. At 33, he needed his minutes to be around 20 to 25 a game and he was valuable coming off the bench. But, all that's changed for defensive reasons. Johnson is determined to have a taller two-guard to start games to defend other bigger shooting guards on opposing teams.
So far, Johnson likes what he sees out of Stackhouse, who missed a month not long ago with a nagging hamstring injury and, remember, his knees are a bit creaky these days.
"He gets to the basket, he's a great passer, he's very smart and he's running now," Johnson said. "Stack's running harder than ever anbd it's because he knows Kidd is going to get him the ball and vice versa."
-- Jeff Caplan