The Mavericks will get their first look at Eastern Conference basketball as they head to Atlanta to take on the Hawks. Dallas will have their first game after finding out that Dirk Nowitzki is on the shelf for the foreseeable future after getting his knee scoped on Friday morning. The team will be getting one player back and losing one player as Roddy Beaubois returns after sitting out for two games due to a sore left ankle. Chris Kaman stayed back in Dallas to get treatment for an ailing calf (not the animal, his actual calf muscle).
Here are some notes of interest as the Mavericks get ready to take on the Hawks.
The Mavericks concluded the 2011-12 regular season with a matchup with the Hawks at Atlanta on 4/26/12 and fell 106-89. It was the only meeting between the two clubs last season, due to lockout-shortened schedule. Dirk Nowitzki scored a team-high 22 points for Dallas in the loss. Roddy Beaubois started at the point for Dallas and recorded 13 points, six assists, five rebounds and one block in 34 minutes. Now former Maverick Jason Terry (11) was the only other player in double figures for the Mavericks. Despite the loss in the most recent showdown, the Mavericks have still won 9-of-13 and 19 of the last 26 regular-season meetings with the Hawks. The Mavericks have also won eight of the last 13 in Atlanta.
It’s a Small World:
Hawks guard DeShawn Stevenson played in 96 games (59 starts) for the Mavericks from 2009-11, averaging 4.5 points per game. Stevenson was a member of the Mavericks’ 2011 title team. He also has an incredible set up with a personal ATM machine at his house. Hawks guard Devin Harris played for Dallas from 2004-08, averaging 9.4 points per game/ Harris was a part of the Mavericks’ 2006 Western Conference Championship Team. Mavericks forward Elton Brand played the past four seasons with Hawks guard Louis Williams in Philadelphia from 2008-12. Mavericks forward Jae Crowder (Villa Rica) and Mavericks center Bernard James (Savannah) both grew up in Georgia. Mavericks forward Brandan Wright and Hawks guard Anthony Morrow were teammates on the Golden State Warriors from 2008-10 and then on the New Jersey Nets for part of the 2010-11 season.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the starting lineup looks as the Mavericks try to figure out what is the best way to proceed going further without Dirk. Coach Rick Carlisle hinted that the team wasn’t playing very well with both Chris Kaman and Elton Brand in the starting lineup. Brand will be the only one in the lineup for Saturday. Players such as Brandan Wright and Jae Crowder are potential options for players who could slide into the starting lineup. It’s going to be a very fluid situation in terms of the rotation, so expect a lot of trial and error.
The Mavericks will have to try to establish a new identity on offense. With defenses no longer having to scheme against Dirk Nowitzki, they can hone in on everyone else. As Dirk isn’t there to take pressure off, his teammates will now have to operate under tougher circumstances. Players such as O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison and the returning Roddy Beaubois will have to do their part to really bring a solid and consistent scoring punch. They will also need to push the tempo and try to create as many easy scoring opportunities as possible.
We shall see how version 2.0 of the new-look Mavericks handle their responsibilities against the playoff caliber team in the Hawks.
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.