Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/13/13
For a team that many thought wouldn’t make the Western Conference playoffs, a year out from missing the postseason for the first time in 13 years, Rick Carlisle has the Dallas Mavericks at a very respectable 5-3. Their theme after eight games….scoring. Entering play on Nov. 13, the Mavericks are averaging nearly 105 points per game, ranking them second in the league. They have hit the century mark in six of their eight games, going 4-2. They are also 4-0 at home. Coming to Dallas in the offseason, Mark Cuban signed three journeymen to the starting lineup to a revamped team that didn’t find much success in 2012 when Cuban went through his so-called “one-year project.” Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis, and Samuel Dalembert headlined the arrival to join Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion into the starting five. So far, it seems to be working out. The Mavs got off to a get start with a 118-109 season-opening win versus the Atlanta Hawks. Ellis scored 32 points, highest ever for a player in his Dallas debut, and added nine assists. Nowitzki scored 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting (4-0f-6 3-point) while Vince Carter added 21 off the bench. Calderon had 11 dimes, and Dalembert grabbed nine rebounds, both game highs. Dallas would go on to score over 100 in its next three including home wins over the Memphis Grizzlies (111-99) and Los Angeles Lakers (123-104). Nowitzki led six players in double figures with 24 points while Shawn Marion added 21 and 14 rebounds against the Grizzlies. The Mavericks were at it again versus the Lakers as seven Mavs were in double figures. Ellis led the charge with 30 points. Dallas shot 13-of-27 from behind the arc, nearly 10 percent better than LA. The Mavs outrebounded LA 50-35. After a small bump in the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas is now on a two-game win streak, which includes getting its first road win of the season, 91-83 over the Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 9. Dallas then returned home and defeated John Wall and the Washington Wizards 105-95 on Nov. 12. Nowitzki and Ellis both scored 19 points to lead the team. The game also meant much more as Nowitzki passed “The Logo” Mr. Jerry West for 16th on the all-time scoring list. Nowitzki has 25,197 career points and will eye Reggie Miller who is next on the list at 82 points away. The trio of newcomers have done an excellent job, but the Mavericks’ weaknesses comes on the defensive side. Despite the high scoring, the Mavericks are allowing almost just as much, ranking them 26th in the NBA. Dallas’ opponents are shooting 45.7 percent against them, 16th in the league. Dalembert was brought in primarily for his rebounding and defense, but his 1.14 blocks per game puts him tied for 35th in the league. Those numbers have to increase for the Mavs to win more games, especially against contending teams. Ellis is an excellent scorer and a terrific compliment to Nowitzki. Whenever Nowitzki is having an off game, Ellis can step into that role and lead the Mavs in scoring. Ellis is averaging a team-high 22.5 points per game, 11th in the league. Calderon started off slow in the shooting department, but has really picked it up including from three. His numbers are roughly right where he left off last year, when he led the league in the category. Calderon’s 48.8 percent is good for 20th, while second-year man Jae Crowder is tied for ninth at 54 percent. After eight games, it’s evident that the Mavericks can score in bunches, but the key here will be it’s defense and getting stops. If Dallas can keep its opponents’ percentage down, and hold them to under 100, even 95 a game, the Mavericks’ early success to the 2013-14 season will continue and a spot to the playoffs looks likely.        

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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