Two issues were hot at the Mavericks’ practice today.
Actually three, because the post-practice Turkey Dunk for
needy kids made anything involving basketball seem a lot less important.
On the court, the Mavericks were quizzed long and hard about
their scoring. They are averaging just 96.2 points per game, way down from last
season’s 102 points per game.
“When I got here, the big issue was that we want to
play more of an open style offensively, but really we know that defense is our
ticket to being the kind of team we want to be,’’ coach Rick
Carlisle said. “Even if we’re not scoring, I’m looking at
(point) differential and defensive numbers. And right now, our defensive
numbers are the best they’ve been since I’ve been
As Dirk Nowitzki added: “We got to get some guys
playing at a higher level, for sure. We got to get Roddy (Beaubois) back.
I’ve been saying that. We haven’t really reached our full potential
yet offensively, if that’s the question. We still need some weapons.
We’re holding the fort down ‘til then.’’
Issue No. 2 was their zone defense, which has been used more
and more as the games wear on. Carlisle bristled at the suggestion that the
zone is used to mask deficiencies on that end of the court by some of his
Rather, it’s the most effective way for these
particular Mavericks to attack and gives them the best chance for success.
“One of our strengths as a team is our
length,’’ he said. “And zone is one of the things that can
help you play to that. You can’t just be a zone team. It’s
something we have pride in and we work hard on. And it’s something we
have to continue to do.’’
Nowitzki said it’s nothing unusual for teams –
all teams – to play some zone these days.
“If you understand anything about basketball, any team
is playing zone these days,’’ he said. “Look at the Lakers.
They might start in man-to-man, but once some action starts on the strong side,
the big guy comes over and zones it up. New Orleans is one of the better
defensive teams and they switched everything down the stretch, which ends up
really being a zone. I think the best defensive teams are going to play zone
with man-to-man principles or the other way around. That’s the way the
league is going. Guys are just too good one-on-one. The zone is a great factor
in taking guys out of what they like to do.’’
And finally, there was the Turkey Dunk, where players spent
an hour working with kids at a basketball clinic before the kids enjoyed a
scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner graciously supplied by Nick & Sam’s Steakhouse.