Tonight, the Dallas Mavericks take on the Denver Nuggets, a quiet contender playing some terrific basketball lately. The Nuggets don't have a superstar that dominates the ball but the Nuggets generate offense with some clever spacing, lots of movement and a hellacious pace with lineups featuring elite athletes on the floor at all times.
So tonight, your Dallas Mavericks starting center is...Chris Kaman! Of course! Wait, excuse me? dafuq? Here's the rest from ESPNDallas.com and Tim MacMahon:
With Elton Brand dealing with a sore calf that might sideline him against the Nuggets, the Mavs need Kaman now. Kaman has handled a frustrating season like a pro, preparing to play a significant role even while getting two DNP-CDs in a span of three games last week.
"Obviously, I'm frustrated," Kaman said. "I probably have said some negative things in practices and stuff like that out loud, just being frustrated. But I'm never going to throw anybody under the bus. I don't think that's the way to go. It doesn't benefit anybody in this situation. It makes me look bad. It makes other people look bad.
"I'd rather just do my job and try to do the best I can do at it."
There's been much ado about Brandan Wright in these Mavs Moneyball parts lately (read our staff roundtable about Wright and my recent piece about him) and while there's been a lot of disagreement, one thing seems fairly easy to agree on: if there was ever a game for Wright to start, wouldn't this be it? Against the high-flying, up-tempo, high-energy Nuggets in Denver?
The Nuggets most used lineup this season has Kenneth Faried and Kosta Koufos in the post, not really the big bruisers that Indiana and Los Angeles tout. And there's the fact that almost all of Denver's succesful lineups usually feature just one "true big" (Either Faried, Koufos or JaVale McGee) with Wilson Chandler or Danilo Gallinari at the four spot. In fact, Chandler's return and use as a small-ball four has been a great success.
Maybe Carlisle is hoping Kaman can take advantage of the Nuggets interior defense, which isn't too great. Faried is a pretty poor defender despite being a monster rebounder, Koufos is good, fundamentally, but lacks proper foot speed and athleticism and McGee is well...McGee. He's complete wild card that coach George Karl doesn't completely trust.
But then again, if Kaman keeps firing up midrange jumpers, it doesn't really matter who the Nuggets throw out there in the post. There's also the mounds of evidence that suggest Kaman has a hard time contributing to this team.
To Kaman's credit, he was really one of the few things that went right in the Mavericks awful loss to the Lakers on Tuesday. Kaman started, played 20 minutes and scored 14 points on 7 of 10 shooting with six rebounds. From MacMahon again:
Did that performance earn Kaman more minutes?
"I've been very consistent all year on saying that Kaman is a valuable player for us," Carlisle said. "I like the way he played the other night. You can do the math from there."
Yes, Kaman's been so valuable that during the Mavs 11-5 March (by far their best month of the season) Kaman didn't play in three of those games and averaged just 12.6 minutes per game when he did play. Sounds extremely valuable to me. I'll leave you with one of my tweets from this afternoon.
Predication: Kaman plays the first 6 minutes, Mavs trail 15-3, Wright checks in and Kaman's ashes are spread across the Rocky Mountains.— Josh Bowe (@Boweman55) April 4, 2013