To say its been a wild 24 hours in Mavericks land is a bit of an understatement.
The Dallas Mavericks (3-4) end the pre-season with a game against the Charlotte Bobcats (1-6). The Mavericks are hoping to finish on a win heading into the regular season. With so much roster uncertainty in terms of availability, Dallas should look to get Elton Brand on track and see that Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo assert themselves more on the offensive end.
After fielding an historically bad team in the lockout shortened 2011-2012 season, the Bobcats made a number of changes in the off-season. Paul Silas was not brought back; Mike Dunlap, previously an assistant at St. Johns University, was named head coach. Dunlap has been experimenting with the full-court press, something not seen with consistency in the NBA in years. After letting D.J. Augustin walk, the Bobcats also signed journeyman point guard Ramon Sessions, after he opted out of the last year of his contract with the Lakers (thus giving the Lakers the room to sign Steve Nash. This is all his fault). Corey Maggette was sent to Detroit in exchange for Ben Gordon and a first round pick. For some reason the Bobcats also claimed Brendon Haywood off of waivers after Dallas used the amnesty clause on him this summer. Finally, the Bobcats selected on of my favorite rookies in Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from Kentucky as well as Vanderbilt forward Jeff Taylor.
Similar to the Hornets, the Bobcats do not have a playoff team at the moment, but what they lack in experience, they make up for it in youth and energy. Along with the previously mentioned additions, the Bobcats also bring back young power forward Bismack Biyombo, who has the potential to be special on the defensive end. They also bring back former college great Kemba Walker, who projects to be one of the Bobcats' main scoring options along with Ben Gordon. Though the rest of the roster (Byron Mullins, DeSagana Diop, Matt Carroll, Gerald Henderson, Tyrus Thomas, etc) doesn't inspire confidence, the Bobcats should be significantly better than last season.
Dallas should handle the Bobcats, even accounting for the absence of Dirk and Chris Kaman. I have no idea what to make of the fact that Eddy Curry is starting. I will simply hope he is not terrible. Expect Shawn Marion and Vince Carter back on the floor after a scheduled rest against the Thunder. Though I expect all the rotation players will get limited minutes, it would be nice to see some of them, specifically Mayo and Collison, put together a game we fans can feel confident about heading into the season. Hopefully we'll continue to see Jae Crowder play with enthusiasm and purpose. With the absence of Delonte, there may be more back up minutes for Jared Cunningham and Dominique Jones. I'd also like to see Roddy get more than 12 minutes in a game the team is short-handed. While I've more or less given up on him, it certainly doesn't mean I'm right. He's talented and Dallas needs to see if he can play in the system with consistency. The signings of Chris Douglas-Roberts, and Melvin Ely means we might see doses of them as well, simply because they are apparently fighting for the last roster spot. They are set to arrive in Dallas today, and should be available for the game.
Finally, Dallas needs to shoot the ball better. 38% over the last four games is simply unacceptable for a team of professionals. While I am an adept bricklayer in my pick-up games, shooting that poorly over 192 minutes of basketball is hard. Since Dallas will be seeing the Bobcats 8 days after this preseason game, I wouldn't expect too much in terms of strategy or play calling. Dallas simply needs to go out, play hard, and finish the pre-season on a positive note. With so much pre-season turmoil, its been a challenge for any hardcore Dallas fan to stay positive. But after this game the slate is wiped clean and the team can start fresh on Tuesday Oct. 30th.