Mavs: From Finals to Lottery
Well, that's a bit of an overreaction, but at 0-3, this team is on pace to be the worst team in the league. Not only are they winless this year but hold a seven-game losing streak dating to last year's NBA Finals. But instead of assuming the worst, let's take a look at what can be fixed.
The Mavs new players need to acclimate quickly. Devean George has been sick. Austin Croshere, Greg Buckner, and Anthony Johnson have been pitiful. Buckner has at least been solidly defensively. Croshere shot well in the opener but has since reverting back to his preseason Keith Van Horn imitation. If that continues, he has at least shown he is lot more skilled than Van Horn on defense and on the glass, but is that saying much? In the meantime, it took "true point guard" Anthony Johnson three games to post his first assist. These guys need to get it together or Avery Johnson needs to find ways to get rookies Maurice Ager and Pops Mensah-Bonsu on the floor.
Devin Harris needs more minutes. Three games in, Harris gets the start. The offense was much better and Harris plays bigger than he is on defense. He'll make his mistakes, but those will decrease with more playing time, something Mavericks coaches have been unwilling to give him at this time. Do not forget how important he was in the playoffs last year. First, there was the Spurs series which he took over with his speed. But people forget he displayed a clutch shot late in games. Three times in the playoffs he hit jump shots to tie games with seconds to play, though the opponent followed with a clock beating hoop. If you saw the final minute of the Golden State game, you know that was on display again.
Kick Jason Terry in the backside. The Mavs "shooter" has done very little of that while playing tentatively. This may be partially due to playing limited minutes in the preseason, but The Little General needs to get him going and quick.
Sit Jerry Stackhouse in the Fourth Period. In the middle part of the game, Stack will give you important points. Late in games, he plays an individual game and forces shots rather than finding teammates. Let him watch the final minutes from the bench. It's best for the team.
Drive! Drive! Drive the lane! The Mavs continue to refuse to attack the basket. It was a nasty habit that reared it's ugly head on occassion last season and was the primary reason (D-Wade who?) the Mavs championship hopes unrivaled form the six munte mark of the fourth period of game three in the finals. This makes for easy defensive rebounds for your opponent and low shooting percentages putting the wrong team in transition. Go to the Hole.
So there you have it. It may get worse before it gets better with Josh Howard out at least two weeks with his ankle sprain, but my guess is the lottery is not in the cards for this team. But a low seed will be if the Mavs don't get it right soon.