T-Mac’s out, Rafer just got traded, and it’s doubtful that Kyle Lowry and Brian Cook will have cleared their physicals by gametime. Trap game? You bet.
The Mavs are playing well, and could end up getting ahead of themselves. Yao Ming historically has done well against Erick Dampier, and shackled Damp from accomplishing much of anything. Ron Artest is still the game’s premier wing defender, and he’ll make Josh Howard’s (and maybe Dirk’s) life a living hell. At this point in the game, the Dallas Mavericks are a better team than the Houston Rockets. But if you’ve watched the Mavs this season, you should know that that fact might not stop them from blowing this one.
Or maybe those were the old Mavs. One could only hope. Was it really so easy? Hand the reins to Kidd, hire Darrell Armstrong, and call it a day? The defensive problems still linger, but the rotations have been better, the individual efforts have been stronger, and the rebounds are triggering the offense. The offense stagnates at times, but I credit that more to the absence of Terry than any serious strategic flaw. But after months and months of deliberation about who to trade and who to blame, I’m still watching the Mavs with a cautious eye. Good things rarely come so easy.
This may seem like a contradictory message from my morning mantra. It is, in a sense. It’s hard to trust this team, and so I’m left in an awkward middle ground; the Mavs have shown enough life to spark my hopes, but they’ve waffled on their potential so many times this season that I should know better. Still, in my heart of hearts, I want this team to be great. I want the Mavs to rise up the Western ladder. I want them to go out tonight and punk the Rockets. I’m even hopeful that all of those things are possible. We won’t have a good litmus test until Terry returns, but in the meantime let’s get this party started, shall we?