The Wizards will play the second game of their preseason slate against the Dallas Mavericks tonight … the only home preseason game on the schedule. It will televised on Comcast SportsNet and can be heard on DC’s 106.7 The Fan.
Also, I’ll be reporting from the game, and likely doing another live Twitter post on Truth About It (of course, this time within the NBA guidelines of a three ‘Tweet’ limit during each quarter and one during each of the two quarter breaks (but no limit on pregame, halftime and postgame Tweets).
But in terms of the Mavs, fellow TrueHoop Network blogger, Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game, agreed to answer a couple questions about his team. Here that goes …
1) Drew Gooden at center? Really?
Really, really. At least, Rick Carlisle seems to think so. I’m not a huge fan of the idea, as I like Drew as more of a utility big off the bench. But the Mavs’ brass in convinced that Gooden can be an effective scorer against starting-caliber centers without giving up too much at the defensive end. Erick Dampier is definitely a more traditional 5, but the Mavs’ logic is this: if Dampier is playing pretty good defense while scoring off of dump-offs and offensive boards, how much better could we be if Gooden can play comparable defense while hopefully adding a bit more to the offense? I still need to see a defensively competent Drew Gooden to believe it, but it looks like I’ll get ample opportunity with the “co-starting” nod.
(It’s worth noting that starter doesn’t really mean finisher, as Carlisle and GM Donnie Nelson have recognized the lineup of Kidd-Terry-Howard-Marion-Nowitzki as a more likely lineup for stretch runs.)
2) How bad did losing Brandon Bass and losing out on Marcin Gortat hurt? Which one is worse?
It burns, it really does. Brandon was the Mavs’ most effective sub not named Jason Terry last year, and he was really showing strides in his defensive awareness and his decision-making on offense. He was a cult favorite in Dallas, and it really is tough to see him go.
But losing Marcin Gortat was even more painful, even if he was technically never the Mavs’ to lose. While Bass is a fine player, he could never give Dallas the traditional look. That in itself isn’t too much of a problem, until you consider that Bass’ position and natural space on the floor are typically occupied by former MVP/face of the franchise/greatest player in franchise history Dirk Nowitzki. Not exactly ideal for the team to stack one position like that, particularly when the holes at center and shooting guard were staring them in the face. In Gortat, the Mavs potentially had a mainstay at center, a position that has historically been the hardest to fill not only for the Mavs, but the league at large. He’s serviceable at both ends, and Gortat’s offensive mobility and defensive excellence are just damn impressive for such a young center. To have such a player waved in your face at the average salary and then ripped away at the last second…well, let’s just say Otis Smith shouldn’t be planning a trip to Dallas any time soon.
3) Josh Howard, can he really do the job at shooting guard?
He can, and he will. The differences between the 2 and the 3 in the current NBA (and in particular, the Mavs’ system) are just too marginal for Howard to regress from such an arbitrary change. When healthy, Howard can at least keep up on the defensive end, even when matched against the league’s best wings. Shawn Marion also gives him a safety net, as the two can switch defensively if Howard’s having problems covering a particular player.
Trust me, Howard at shooting guard is a complete non-issue.
4) What’s the biggest ‘issue’ that stands in the way of success?
Perimeter quickness. Quick guards give the Mavs fits, and the Chris Pauls and Tony Parkers of the world routinely pick the Mavs’ D apart. That partially falls on the shoulders (or legs?) of Jason Kidd, but slow defensive rotations sometimes turn an issue into a disaster. If the Mavs can’t improve their perimeter defense from last year (or at least improve the execution of their defensive scheme), they’ll fall victim to any one of the quick, athletic point guards or wings in the Western Conference.
5) The season will be a failure if the Mavs don’t [BLANK]
Win the regular season opener against the Wiz. No pressure, right?
Thanks again to Rob … I’ll probably be talking to him again soon since the Wizards and Mavs will face off in Dallas on opening night.