After taking Wednesday off to recover from their three game east coast road trip, the Mavericks returned to the practice court on Thursday. There was a sense of excitement around the practice as everyone was patiently waiting to hear good news. Corey Brewer finally cleared waivers and has now officially signed with the team. For those wondering, Corey Brewer will wear number 13 for the Mavericks. 22 is currently in the rafters as Rolando Blackman had his jersey retired and the number two is worn by Jason Kidd. This year, in 56 games, he averaged 8.6 points and 2.7 rebounds. His shooting slipped to below 40 percent and under 27 percent from long range. The former Florida Gator should become one of Dallas' best perimeter defender and close up a hole that the Mavericks were unable to fill before last week's trading deadline as they were in pursuit of Detroit's Tayshaun Prince. For those who are curious to see how Prince and Brewer compare, you can go here.
"(Brewer's) different in terms of his body type than anybody else we have," Carlisle said. "He’s a deceptively tall kid, he’s got long arms. I think probably his tenacity is as, or more, important than any of those other attributes." With a team that older legs, acquiring the former Florida Gator should go a long way in helping the team now and going forward. "It’s a very good move for the franchise both short term and long term." Carlisle said.
Thursday also marked the one-year anniversary of Brewer breaking Jason Terry’s orbital bone in the home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Terry had surgery to repair the bone on March 5, which happens to be Brewer’s birthday. “He didn’t do it intentionally, so it’s all good,” said Terry, who missed only five games after undergoing facial surgery. “This kid is a young kid that’s going to work hard. Obviously, us veterans will rub off on him. He’ll get the sense of what he’s walking into once he steps through the door.”
The Mavericks believe they found a player that will follow suit with the previous acquisitions in the sense that he will fit in well within the veteran locker room. When describing what he’s heard of the 6-9 forward, Dirk Nowitzki said that Brewer is, "a good locker room guy." As always, the team will do everything that they can to make him feel welcomed and make his transition onto the team an easy one. Nowitzki also mentioned that Jason Kidd’s all-around ability should go a long way in making things easy for Brewer.
Center Tyson Chandler will miss at least the next two games after he sprained his right ankle while landing on Spencer Hawes' foot in Wednesday's seventh straight win at Philadelphia. One of the silver linings to take away from the situation is the fact that it is his right foot that is injured, not the left foot that has giving him issues over his career that has led him to miss dozens of games. All signs to this being a minor injury and should not lead to any major setbacks. Luckily for the Mavericks, Chandler should not be far from the team. He may be wearing a suit instead of a uniform, but he should still be on the bench supporting his teammates. The difference will be that Chandler will be yelling from the sidelines instead of the back line of the Mavericks defense. "Not hearing (Chandler’s) voice, it's going to be a tough adjustment," said Jason Terry. It will have to be a collective effort to make sure the intensity and energy are made up due to Chandler’s absence. With Chandler missing at least two games due to the ankle injury, it will be the first set of games Chandler will miss due to injury. He missed three games earlier in the year (Mavs were 1-2 in those games) due to illness.
Brendan Haywood, the $43 million dollar man, will take over as the starting center while Chandler recovers from his injury. "This is an opportunity for him to start. We want consistent solid play," Carlisle said. "We’re not looking for him to score a ton of points or any of that kind of stuff, we want him to play within our system." Haywood went as far as saying that he brings the same things to the table as Tyson Chandler in terms of defense, rebounding and the ability to block shots. While that is true in theory, those two players go at their similar business in a totally different way.
Haywood has performed rather well as of late, when he is not receiving DNP-CD based on the given match-up. "Nothing’s really changed," Haywood said. "I think there have been some games where I had a chance to get a couple more consistent minutes and I performed pretty well in that time." When asked to assess his performance over the course of the season, Haywood took a second to think about his answer. He replied, "I don’t know." While Chandler is sitting on the sideline in street clothes, Haywood will need to remain active on both sides of the floor while making sure he protects the rim. Haywood has averaged 5.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks while shooting 60% from the field in 23.7 minutes as a starter for the Mavericks this season. His free throw percentage is actually worse as a starter, he's shooting 27.3% (3-11) from the free throw line.
For most of the season, Haywood has had to deal with coming off the bench. It can be a different situation for a player that has been used to playing as a starter for at least 10 years. The center has to deal with coming into a game that has an established tempo and feel while working with different types of players than what he is used to working with. But that is the life of a professional NBA player and he just has to deal with it.
Dallas has shown that all NBA hoop courts are created equal as they are exactly 22-8 at home & 22-8 on the road. The 22-8 record away from the American Airlines Center is the NBA's best road record. With the Mavericks overall record (44-16), they still remain under the radar in terms of garnering national attention. Everyone is talking about the Spurs and the Lakers out West, while all of the elite teams out in the East (Boston, Chicago, Miami, New York and Orlando) get their fair share of attention. "(Being) under the radar is always good," said Dirk Nowitzki. It is fair to say that the underdog role has been a position that is better suited for the Mavericks. Guard Jason Terry chimed in with the line of the day from practice in regards to being under the radar. "That’s the only way to fly," Terry said. He went on by saying that they need to play out the underdog role since people didn’t predict the team to do much before the start of the regular season. This year and last year’s edition of the Dallas Mavericks was better equipped than the team that made the NBA Finals appearance in 2005-2006, but it matters how the other teams stack up and the teams around the league have loaded up as well.
"The Lakers, to me, are still the heavy, heavy favorites in the West," Nowitzki said when assessing the big teams. "After that, there are a bunch of teams bundled up." Nowitzki’s though process in assessing the Lakers as the team to beat is due to the fact they are the back-to-back NBA Champions. It also helps to have Kobe Bryant who Nowitzki called, "the best player in the world." Despite those opinions in regards to the Lakers, Nowitzki still feels confident in his team if they were to meet the Lakers in the playoffs. "We can match up with their length when we’re all healthy," Nowitzki said. "It should be a fine match-up if we see them in the playoffs."
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