Wednesday, the Dallas Mavericks participated in day two of their extensive practice week as they prepared for the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday, and their longest road trip of the season that starts Saturday in Utah. Rick Carlisle said that the road trip will take them through the "wild blue yonder." First, they will have to play the Timberwolves and they will have to prepare for a new-look team as Kevin Love will not travel with the team on their two-game road trip. Love has been dealing a groin injury and it was too much to deal with so he decided to stay in Minnesota and continue receiving treatment. Carlisle did not know Love's status as practice ended, but he knew that the Wolves would still be ready if their All-Star was unable to play. "They’ll have another high energy player running around." According to the Timberlwolves, they will start Anthony Randolph in Love's place, but they will also have players like Anthony Tolliver and Michael Beasley who can play the small forward position. "They’ll be hard to guard because they’re smaller," Carlisle said when assessing Minnesota if they did not have Love in the lineup.
Wednesday also marked Jason Kidd's 38th birthday. Rick Carlisle noted that Kidd, the fifth oldest active player in the NBA, looked very young in practice on Wednesday. "I don’t know where he’s getting it, but he’s found the fountain of youth somewhere," Carlisle said. "It’s awesome." Dirk Nowitzki has seen a lot of players come through Dallas over his 12 NBA seasons and Jason Kidd continues to amaze the face of the franchise. "He's amazing to me," Nowitzki said of Kidd. "He practices every day, he never misses a game and he plays hard at both ends. He's our motor." Kidd did not speak on his birthday, likely due to the birthday cake that was waiting for him in the locker room. Kidd did mention on Tuesday that he feels great physically and he feels good. Tyson Chandler seconded the opinion that Kidd looks good, but he also used the opportunity to help provide some jokes on the birthday. "He turned 32 again? Brian (Cardinal) said that he turned 32 again, so he might as well just stay there," Chandler joked. "He looked great. I think any time it’s your birthday you have a little extra energy."
This was the last quality practice the Mavericks will have for a while as they get ready to embark on their longest road trip of the season (six games). On Tuesday, the word of the day was persistence as Rick Carlisle made note that the team needs to stay focused on both ends of the floor and keep a hard-nosed attitude during the last 12 games of the regular season heading into the postseason. Tyson Chandler had a new P-Word to use on Wednesday, physical. As things start to clamp down, the physicality will go up and Chandler knows that the team will need to be ready for what the opposition throws their way. "Teams are going to turn it up. Knowing the history of this team and the firepower of this team has, that’s really the only thing you can do to this team," Chandler said on teams being physical against them. "The only way you can try to beat (the team) is by being physical." This year, the team will need to know that is coming and be prepared for it. "We have to embrace it and beat teams at their own game," Chandler said.
That does mean that the Mavericks need to fight fire with fire, they just need to make sure their execution is crisp. They will need to set better screens, execute better passes and make stronger cuts. Chandler feels that when things get chippy, the Mavericks just need to keep their composure and stick to their game. He also feels that the team is in a good place judging on how the practices have played out over the last two days. "If we play anywhere near the way we’ve competed against each other in the last couple days of practice, we’ll be fine against anybody," Chandler said confidently. "I don’t care who it is." They will have a chance to test the theory out on Thursday night.
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