Dallas Mavericks: Hot Starts Are a Must

Mavericks C Zaza Pachulia needs to be a monster on the boards. Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi
Mavericks C Zaza Pachulia needs to be a monster on the boards to help with fast starts.
Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi

By Bryan Murphy

Although much of February was a month to forget for the Dallas Mavericks, they still finished the month strong, post All-Star break, winning three of the last four games on the current six-game home stand.

Dallas played some of its best basketball of the season on Sunday in a 128-101 beat down of the Minnesota Timberwolves. From start to finish the Mavericks were hitting on all cylinders. The Mavericks poured in 39 points in the first quarter, a new Mavs season high for points in a quarter, and never looked back. The Mavericks also had a new season high in assists in a game with 34.

“When we move the ball and space the floor, like we did tonight, we’re tough to guard,” said forward Chandler Parsons, who finished with a game-high 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting.

Parsons and the Mavs will look to keep things rolling the rest of the home stand as they welcome the Orlando Magic to the American Airlines Center on Tuesday. Dallas and Orlando just met on Feb. 19, the first game back from the All-Star break, and the Magic stunned the Mavs in a tough 110-104 overtime loss. The Mavs fell behind by 21 points early in that game and were able to come roaring back, only to throw it away in the fourth quarter and overtime period.

Brandon Jennings, who played his very first game with the Magic after being traded to the Detroit Pistons for Tobias Harris just a few days prior, had a fine debut with 18 points and four assists.

Orlando dominated the glass, out-rebounding Dallas 63-45. Besides Zaza Pachulia’s whopping 19 rebounds, no other Maverick snagged more than four boards. If Dallas is going to get revenge and avoid a season sweep, they will have to be much, much better in the rebounding department and keep the young rising stars like Aaron Gordon, Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic in check.

Up next will be the much anticipated return to Dallas for one of the least beloved players among Mavs’ fans, to say the least, Rajon Rondo. The return would have been earlier this season on Jan. 5 when the Sacramento Kings last visited the AAC but Rondo did not suit up. Barring injury or suspension, Rondo will play in front of the AAC crowd for the first time since he sported a Mavericks uniform last season. Expect much of the DeAndre Jordan booing treatment.

DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins is the real stud on this team, though. Cousins has been emerging as one of, if not the best, centers in the entire league as of late and has been putting up monster numbers. Averaging over 27 PPG and 11 RPG. It’s hard to believe that he has constantly been on a losing team much of his career and the Kings currently have a 24-34 record. Cousins, Rudy Gay, Ben McLemore, Marco Belinelli and Omri Casspi are talented players in this league but then remember that this team is led by a team cancer in Rondo. Although Rondo leads the NBA in assists per game with 12, he equally kills his team in other ways. For instance, Sunday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Rondo stubbornly refused to take the ball from an official to inbound the ball not once, but twice. That resulted in two delay of game violations and was absolutely unnecessary.

The Mavericks then travel up to the mile high city to square off with the Denver Nuggets for the second time in nearly a week. On Friday, Dallas squeaked by in a 122-116 overtime victory against the Nuggets. It marked a league leading 10th overtime game this season for the Mavericks and at first it seemed as if it was going to be a blowout. Denver led by 23 at one point which led to some booing in the first half by the AAC crowd.

“We’re not trying to lose games, we’re not trying to be down 23,” said guard Wesley Matthews. “So for those of you who left early, cool, I hope you got stuck in traffic.”

Getting off to hot starts, like in the win over the Timberwolves last Sunday, should be a point of emphasis heading into the upcoming week and the pivotal month of March.

Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
3/1   vs Magic     7:30 pm
3/3   vs Kings     7:30 pm
3/6   @Nuggets  4:00 pm