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Preseason Report, Part 2: Looking Forward

Part 1 is here.

Sunday marks the arrival of NBA basketball once again. The MMB staff answers some questions on what they expect from this compacted season. Feel free to chime in with your own answers to the questions in the comments.

5. Which game are you looking forward to the most?

Lisa: I'm actually looking forward to the Mavericks playing Tyson Chandler in New York on February 19th. I'll be able to go and see, in person, just how awkward it will be when the Mavs come face to face with the man who jumped ship. I also will be interested to watch them take on the Lakers because it's hard to imagine how good they'll be this season, what with a new coach and no Odom.
Tom: Dallas @ LA Lakers on January 16, 2012. As a Los Angeles native, I will have a shot to watch Dallas and the Lakers duke it out. I will be able to gloat for once, and can yell out who is the true representation of the NBA. We can not forget about the match ups between Lamar Odom and his old team, Bynum's last suspension move, and our win leading to Phil Jackson confirming his retirement.

J0shi: The season opener for sure. It took the NBA too long to get their players back on the court and the banner will be raised that day. Couldn't ask for more. Not far behind: Chandler back in Big 'D' on March, 6th.
6. What is going to be one of the most important factors for the Mavs to succeed this year?

Lisa: DEFENSE. As always. Chandler changed the defensive mindset in the one season he spent in Dallas, so hopefully that will stick around after his departure. There is no question that the Mavs are stacked with offensive firepower, but you can shoot all night and still lose the game. We aren't huge in the middle anymore, so we're going to need more than size to stop up the lane.

Andy: The most important factor for the Mavs to have success this year is whether or not they can figure out some kind of defense. Pay no attention to the idea that losing Tyson Chandler doesn't make things much, much harder. It absolutely does.But maybe they can go in a different direction. With their forward depth, and the addition of two fine individual defenders (Odom and West), it's possible that some tweaking in the scheme can result in something passable for the newly high-powered Mavs offense to compensate. If they pretend that Haywood is a decent replacement for Chandler, however, they're in trouble.

J0shi: With the condensed schedule I think they'll need several bench players to pick up more minutes than normal. Their performance will be key. A good start into the season would also be nice, because the schedule keeps getting heavier down the stretch.

7. Give one word that will describe this season for the Mavericks and why.

Lisa: Inconsistent. I think we will see flashes of greatness interspersed with frustrating disorganization. That isn't because the team won't be good, however. It's because training camp was a joke, what with the players coming in waves, and everyone getting sick. The team won't have a chance to play as themselves until they face the Heat on Christmas. It takes time for a group of players to become a team, and the shortened season will probably limit their ability to do so.

Andy: Interesting. Now that the old guys have gotten what they deserved this last year, will they still be hungry enough? Will they be hungry enough to compensate for the fact that they're 33 year olds playing, in the case of the Thunder, 23 year olds. Moreover, given that they have assembled this team for just this year so they can go after bigger fish next year, no matter how talented it still is this year, will they have the chemistry?

Tim: Relaxed. This is no small thing with the hustle and bustle of a compacted, 66-game season, but with a championship finally under the belts of most of these Mavericks, this season shouldn't be frantic at all. While other teams may be straining throughout the regular season, feeling the pressure that they have to win a championship this year, the Mavericks can relax knowing they are the reigning champs and just have to do enough until they reach playoff times again.

8. Besides Dirk, which player has to stay injury free?

Lisa: Roddy Beaubois. We have put so much on that kid's shoulders, and he hasn't yet been able to prove himself. If he's ever going to live up to his potential, he needs to be healthy all season, and he needs to get his time in on the court. If he doesn't, he'll become less valuable either as a member of the team or a possible trade.

Andy: I think besides Dirk, Shawn Marion has to stay injury free. That might seem strange. I do think, though, that without Chandler the Mavs need all hands on deck. If they lose their best and most versatile man defender, I think that's one leak too many in a defense that looks to be fairly porous already.

Tom: Jason Kidd. His impressive average of eight assist per game doesn't even describe all the contributions he brings. Kidd scores threes as daggers or to start comebacks. Kidd gets steals to bring momentum for the Mavs. Kidd finds the open man to complete the comeback. Without Kidd, the Mavericks would have lost many games. And without Kidd, the Mavericks would lose many games when the games are even more scarce than usual.