It’s opening night. Everybody is 0-0 and feels they have a chance to win the championship. The Dallas Mavericks are embarking on a journey that should have some interesting twists and turns as the franchise has a lot of new pieces. They will have the stage to themselves as they take on the newest super team, the Los Angeles Lakers. Dallas will be short-handed as Dirk Nowitzki sits and Chris Kaman will be out for at least the first two games due to his strained right calf. He has been resting his calf since 10/17.
Here are some notes for the opening night matchup against the Lakers.
The Lakers have won six straight and 14 of the last 17 regular-season meetings with the Mavericks. The Lakers swept the 2011-12 season series, 4-0, but only one of the four games was decided by more than five points, the 109-93 win by the Lakers at Dallas on 3/21/12). In the first meeting between the two clubs last year on 1/16/12, Derek Fisher hit a 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds remaining to give the Lakers a 73-70 win. Los Angeles won despite being held to just seven points in the third quarter – a Dallas franchise opponent low for points in a period, was eight: second quarter at Minnesota 2/27/07; third quarter vs. Cleveland 3/14/06. The Lakers took the second meeting 96-91 on 2/22/12, the third meeting 109-93 on 3/21/12 and the final meeting 112-108 in overtime on 4/15/12.
The Mavericks have struggled mightily on the road against the Lakers. With the overtime loss to the Lakers on 4/15/12, Dallas has lost 41 of the last 46 regular-season matchups against the Lakers on the road. The Mavericks snapped a 26-game losing streak in Los Angeles with a 110-93 victory on 12/12/03. Vince Carter averaged 10.5 points, 2.8 rrebounds and 25.8 minutes in four games, two starts. Shawn Marion averaged 8.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 34.3 minutes in three starts against Los Angeles last season.
The Mavericks are 0-3 all-time in season-opening games against the L.A. Lakers. The last time the Mavericks opened the season against the Lakers was in 2003-04, 10/28/03, and Dallas fell 109-93 at the STAPLES Center. The Mavericks also opened the 1988-89 and 1989-90 seasons against the Lakers, both at home. The Lakers recorded a 116-113 win at Dallas on 11/4/88 and then defeated the Mavericks 102-94 at Dallas again the following year on 11/3/89.
According to Mavericks statistician Dave Keeney, the Mavericks are 18-14 all-time in season opening games. It’s the 14th time they’ve opened on the road, 7-6 record.
The Mavericks open the 2012-13 regular season with a back-to-back at the L.A. Lakers on 10/30/12 and at Utah on 10/31/12. The Mavericks have 16 back-to-backs in 2012-13, with only one stretch of four games in five nights. In total, 10 back-to-backs are on the road, three begin at home and conclude on the road and three are road-to-home. Dallas played 22 back-to-backs in 2011-12, going 7-15 in the first half of a back-to-back and 13-9 in the second half of a back-to-back.
The Mavericks are 24-21 (.533) all-time in regular-season games without Dirk Nowitzki in the lineup compared to 691-364 (.655) all-time in regular-season games when he plays.
It’s a Small World:
Steve Nash played for the Mavericks from 1998-2004 and was an All-Star in Dallas in 2002 and 2003. Antawn Jamison played for the Mavericks during the 2003-04 season and won the Sixth Man of the Year award. Vince Carter was a college teammate of Jamison’s at the University of North Carolina from 1995-98. Carter played one-and-a-half seasons with Lakers center Dwight Howard in Orlando from 2009-10. He also played part of the 2010-11 season with Lakers guard Chris Duhon in Orlando. Duhon was a college teammate of Mavericks guard Dahntay Jones at Duke from 2001-03.Lakers head coach Mike Brown was an assistant under Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle in Indiana from 2003-05. Carlisle coached Lakers forward Metta World Peace for over two seasons when they were both with the Pacers, 2003-05.
If the Mavericks want to shock everyone and beat the Lakers, they’re going to ensure they do three things (some would call them keys). We’re not talking about score more points (that’s obvious):
1. Push the tempo against the Lakers. Despite being a quasi-All-Star team, the Lakers are still an older squad. The Mavericks will need to run as much as they can and find easy scoring opportunities. They also need to establish their offense before Dwight Howard can get situated and be able to key in on what the Mavericks want to do.
2. Make Nash work on defense. The Lakers didn’t acquire Steve Nash for his defensive prowess. The Mavericks need to make him work, especially through pick-and-roll action. Guards Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo really need to wear Nash down. They need to be aggressive and make Nash uncomfortable.
3. Marion needs to shine. The Matrix loves a defensive challenge. He’s never going to be as fresh or as healthy as he is right now to work against Kobe Bryant. If Marion can do what he does, basically a little bit of everything, the Mavericks have a good chance of staying in the game.
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.