DALLAS _ Ty Lawson is no rocket science.
But even the Denver point guard noticed a stark difference between the Dallas Mavericks team that captured last year’s NBA title and the one that was blown out Sunday and Monday to Miami and the Nuggets, respectively.
“They lost two of their key players -- JJ (Barea) and Tyson (Chandler),’’ Lawson said. “They did a lot for this team and they are still trying to learn how to gel with their new players.’’
Whether Mavs management like it or not, the recurring theme of deciding not to re-sign free agents Chandler and Barea, in particular, will probably be noted by opponents throughout this season. Particularly if the Mavs continue to struggle at the defensive end of the floor.
Chandler and Barea, along with DeShawn Stevenson, brought a defensive mentality to last year’s Mavs’ squad that’s only been a rumor so far this year.
Those parade of uncontested layups and breakaway dunks the Heat and Nuggets manufactured probably would have been limited if Chandler, Barea and Stevenson were around.
That 42-17 rally the Heat put together bridging 10:48 of the second and third quarters probably would have been minimized. And that 22-1 Nugget run in the final 6:28 of the second period -- when the Mavs went scoreless on 13 consecutive trips -- likely wouldn’t have happened.
In addition, the 51-31 rebounding advantage Miami enjoyed and the 47-37 rebounding advantage Denver enjoyed probably would have been interrupted by some man-up play from Chandler.
But Chandler, Barea and Stevenson aren’t coming through the Mavs’ door. At least not as a member of the Mavs.
“We’ve still got to get comfortable out there,’’ Mavs forward Shawn Marion said. “We’re not comfortable with each other on both ends of the floor.’’
Until the Mavs get comfortable with each other, get in better condition, show some trust on defense, learn how to attack the boards, play together and get back on defense, what happened against Miami and Denver could become a recurring theme for a minute or two.
“We played really good defense and we got a chance to really fast break this game,’’ Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari said. “Sometimes it would be three on zero on offense, and that came from deflections.’’
It's a trend the Mavs must quickly change. Or any thoughts of repeating as champs will disappear before the Super Bowl is played.
-- Dwain Price
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