Well, that fourth quarter was uncomfortable against the Wizards wasn't it? Cartier Martin was one more three away from ruining my Wednesday night. That game had no business being that tight; Dallas needs to close out games like that in a strong fashion, but at least they won. Now the Mavericks (5-4) take on the Indiana Pacers, who have struggled mightily in the first nine games of their season.
The Pacers had a very tame offseason, editing around the edges of their roster. In the draft, the Pacers selected Duke forward Miles Plumlee. Also, we all know the Pacers agreed to a sign-and-trade of beloved Maverick, he of the #MahinmiSwag, Mr. Ian Mahinmi in exchange for our current starting point guard Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones. Next the Pacers opted to sign former University of Texas Longhorn and Charlotte Bobcat D.J. Augustin to a one year deal.
These small moves were mainly because the Pacers had a very successful 2011-2012 season, losing to the eventual NBA Champion Miami Heat 4-2 in the semi-finals. Returning with Danny Granger, Paul George, George Hill, Roy Hibbert, and David West, the Pacers theoretically boasted a top four squad in the east. However, an early season knee injury to Danny Granger coupled with massive problems for the entire Pacer offense (the TEAM is shooting 40% from the field) have resulted in a disastrous early season win-loss record for a team with such high pre-season expectations.
Can the Mavericks take advantage of the flailing Pacers? I think the length of the Pacers will cause Dallas problems, but if they keep the offensive pressure on, leaving Indiana with a win is very possible. The match-up between former teammates Collison and Hill should be facinating. Hill assumed the starter position last season and with Collison now flourishing in Dallas, I'm willing to bet we'll see Collison be extra aggressive. The other back court matchup between O.J. Mayo and Lance Stephenson should be fun; for those of you unfamiliar with Stephenson he is a very talented third year player from the University of Cincinnati. Like Mayo, he strikes me as the kind of player who simply needs time to figure out what he can do on the NBA level.
With front court matchups, things get dicey for Dallas. Shawn Marion is traveling with the team, but I expect him to sit this game out and possibly play against the Cavs Saturday. That leaves Dahntay Jones and Jae Crowder spending time keeping Paul George in check. George is a 6'10" multi position player capable of doing just about anything on the court, he's simply young and perhaps hasn't been put in the right position to succeed yet. Keeping his scoring under control will be vital to Dallas' success. Elton Brand and Chris Kaman will have their hands full against David West and Roy Hibbert. West, like Brand, is an undersized post up threat who is tough as they come. Hibbert is incredibly tall and moves the floor reasonably well for such a large man. Keeping the Pacers off the offensive boards will be key.
The battle of the benches tilts decidedly towards Dallas. Whereas the Pacers bring Plumlee, Tyler Hansbrough, Sam Young, D.J. Augustin, and all world athlete Gerald Green off the bench, Dallas retorts with Carter, Bernard James, Jae Crowder, and Brendan Wright. I think the success of the Dallas bench thus far this season gives the Mavericks an advantage over a potentially demoralized or frustrated Pacer bench.
The change in starters and rotation had the desired effect: Dallas won. However a final quarter filled with sloppy defense, stagnant offense, and questionable effort raises the same questions any of the losses have. Dallas needs to force the tempo and rebound very well if they expect to come out with a win. A team shooting as poorly as Indiana means more rebounds to collect, and though Dallas won the rebounding battle Wednesday, seeing them string together a series of strong rebounding performances would do wonders for their and our confidence. The remainder of the November schedule is much tougher than these last two weeks, so a win now is very important.
What do you want to see from the guys tonight? I watched most of Wednesday's game, but I didn't pay attention with my normal intensity until Cartier Martin became Ray Allen. I'm very interested in hearing what you all want to see from the guys to push Dallas two games over .500.