3) Biggest surprise of the season so far, good or bad?
Andy: I guess it’s really a combination of Carlisle’s generally terrific coaching in partnership with his completely insane treatment of the PG position in the final minutes. Although it’d still be a bad idea, Carlisle playing anything he can find, including inanimate objects, instead of Darren Collison in the waning minutes is one thing but choosing, say, Mike James to end a game in which Collison played 31 regulation minutes to James’ 17 seems beyond belief for reasons that have nothing to do with Mike James. I mean, aren’t you playing your best PG the most minutes? WTH, Rick?
Alan: I guess I'll go with O.J. Mayo, for lack of a great answer to this question. I'm hesitant to say he's been THAT much better than I expected...because there's enough of the season left that his streakiness could take his final stat-line in a few different directions. Maybe the surprise is that I'm even starting to consider the possibility he might be around longer? Which, I'll be honest: I didn't at all before.
Tim: I could always tackle the Carlisle/point guard issue, but another surprise (if a tad mild) is that Dirk took so long to recover. It's not that he took longer than usual, but we've known for years that Dirk isn't mortal. To see him struggle, first with the decision of surgery, next with the frustration of rehabbing the knee, and now with the process of him getting back into superstar-shape, really showed a side of Nowitzki that we never had seen. It makes him a little more human, and I appreciate him just a little bit more.
Kirk: Carlisle's inability to determine who he wants to play point guard. While it finally feels like he's sticking with Collison, most Mav observers have been rightly critical of Carlisle hurting Collison's confidence when things got rough in late November. Dallas has now tried five point guards this season (Collison, Jones, Beaubois, Fisher, James) and the right answer was there from the start. Collison needed something, whether it was time or coaching, to get his mind right so he could start finishing in the pain and making the right pass. Things are back on track now, but I wonder if getting frustrated with Collison early cost the Mavericks wins.
4) Favorite moment of the season so far?
Andy: Uhhhhh, when Dirk came back. He’s not all the way back and the game he came back the Mavs were absolutely slaughtered. BUT, when they announced that he was in the layup line, my heart flew out of my mouth and sang bluebird songs.
Alan: Dirk back. And yeah, it does say something that my favorite moment happened in a blowout loss to the hated Spurs.
Tim: Without a doubt, Dirk's return. Let me set it up for you, though. I was home for winter break, and actually made the drive down to San Antonio to catch this one. Our lovely leader Lisa (alliteration alert!) also made the drive, and I was able to met her for the first time in person. There we were, sitting in the press area with 30 minutes until the game tipped off and whatd'yaknow, the stunning announcement comes down that Dirk is suited up and ready to play. What!? Total shock. The moments following, where the Mavs got roasted alive and devoured by the Spurs, was not as enjoyable. But Dirk's return was just perfect.
Kirk: The Mayo-Harden duel in early December. Two young players going back and forth in a high scoring exciting game was a delight to watch. That Mayo came out on top and had a more complete game than Harden was an added bonus.