Originally written November 28, 2012 on isportsweb.com:
The Dallas Mavericks, it seems as of late, have a problem with the start of games. After suffering such a loss at home against the Los Angeles Lakers, one would have thought that they would not want that type of game to happen to them again anytime soon, right? Well, I sure wouldn’t, but as it looked at the beginning of the game against Philadelphia, they had not had enough humiliation. Within less than 3 minutes into the game, Coach Rick Carlisle, had to call his first timeout in order to get his guys together and you can bet he wasn’t saying, “come on guys, it’s going to be ok; let’s just play a game and go on”, NO he wasn’t. One can only imagine the steam coming off of his head as he laid down the law to them to get their attention, well that’s what I would have done. Because during this same time, the 76′ers had already scored 13 points on 3 three-pointers and they weren’t contested 3′s either, they were wide open shots with no defender within close proximity and Dallas had only 4 points on the board and had missed more shots than they made at that point. Now a lot of people were making a bid deal out of the fact that Carlisle had benched Darren Collison and Elton Brand from starting and inserted Dominique Jones as the starting point guard and Jae Crowder in at forward, but it may not have been as much a punishment tactic as having someone that can come in from the beginning and give the Mavs a spark, but also someone coming off the bench that can help to get things going or to keep them going. But of course we all want to think it’s a punishment option. Either way, it didn’t work from the beginning because Dallas let them get the 13-4 jump in less than 3 minutes into the game and then we had to rethink our process. Philadelphia is a good, strong, young team and they love to play the perimeter and Dallas was having trouble in the beginning covering those areas, hence the 3 uncontested three-pointers at the first of the game and then in order to try and keep up or make up ground, Dallas started hoisting 3′s that went no where, which made them look desperate. Dallas is still without Dirk Nowitzki for a couple more weeks, at least, and they have to do what they can do to maintain a steady pace until his return. Now I hope no one is expecting Dallas to miraculously turn into a winning machine when Dirk returns, but it will make a psychological change in the flow of the game for both Mavs players as well as opponents; they are not going to know if Dirk will be a fierce shooting machine as he has been or if he is going to be a decoy for players like O J Mayo and Chris Kaman or what, so it will change the complexity of the game from all angles and I can’t wait! Once Carlisle called that first timeout, Dallas was able to regain their composure and gain some ground on Philadelphia and turn a deficit into a positive thing and took a 31-28 lead into the second quarter. The good thing of it was that they kept it going throughout the second quarter as well and ended the half with a 56-53 lead; not bad for a team that has been struggling as of late and needing to keep their heads above water. As I stated in my last article about the roller coaster ride that has become known to the Dallas Mavericks, well this game was not any different. Dallas was able to keep the wolves at bay to an extent during the last half of the first quarter and contain them in the second quarter, but when the third quarter started, well by the end of the third, Dallas found themselves struggling again and lost the third to the 76′ers 22-17 and gave the lead to Philadelphia 75-73. So needless to say, that was the final undoing for the Mavericks, even though they tied the 76′ers with 25 points in the fourth, but Philadelphia was able to keep the Mavs at arms length and keep the 2 point edge and take the game, which sent the Mavs below .500 for the first time this season. Evan Turner led the 76′ers with 22 points for the night on 8 of 12 from the field and Thaddeus Young added 20 points of his own on 7 of 14 shooting as well. Even though Philadelphia was without Andrew Bynum, they still had weapons that they could and have used to take out their opponent. Jrue Holiday was one of the main targets that Dallas wanted to conquer and they were able to contain him some and only allowed him to score 18 points, but rookie Maalik Wayns scored a season high 10 points as he gave a much needed boost off of the 76′ers bench that they needed to secure the win. Dallas was right there with Philly throughout the game, but was unable to put their dagger in them to finish them off. The Mavs were led by Chris Kaman with 20 points who shot very well from the field by connecting on 9 of 15 shots. Shawn Marion and Elton Brand each had 17 points, Vince Carter added 15 which included his 3 of 5 from behind the arc. Collison had 12 points and O J Mayo had a quiet night with only 11 points. This was the first time Brand had been back to Philadelphia since he was amnestied by Philly over the summer and Dallas was able to pick him up. So how does this all line out? Well for the numbers of the night, Dallas did very well where they shot 45.7% from the field to Philly’s 46.7, 26.3 from behind the arc to 42.9%, now that’s not very good, but shot 86.4% from the free throw line to 75% for Philly; but the thing of it is, Philadelphia took 32 tries, much more than their season average. Dallas only committed 15 turnovers to Philadelphia’s 17 which resulted in 28 points for Dallas. Dallas however still needs to work on the boards since they got out-rebounded again, this time though only 40-37, but definitely got the short end of the stick on the offensive end of the rebounding. They know this, Carlisle knows this and they all know they need to work on this and they will. Now we go to Chicago and see if they can rebound and get back on the winning side of things before they come home. Dallas has a tough stretch of games which will put them on the road playing now 15 of their next 22 games away from Dallas and they need to get it together if they want to have a shot at the playoffs at all and we need to get Dirk back as soon as possible. And with that I will bid you a good day and say good luck and let’s go Mavs!
PLAYERS: Elton Brand
TEAMS: Dallas Mavericks
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