The Dallas Mavericks (7-7) now begin a potentially make or break portion of their schedule starting with their game against the Philadelphia 76ers (8-6). What makes this stretch so critical for the Mavericks is the fact that they won’t be spending much time at home. The Mavericks will play 16 of their next 23 games on the road beginning with the game at Philadelphia on 11/27. The Mavericks will play five of their next six and eight of their next 10 away from the American Airlines Center. Dallas will have to do whatever they can to keep their heads above water. At 7-7, Dallas is looking for a win against Philadelphia to avoid dropping below .500 for the first time this season. If recent games are an indicator, Dallas is due for a win. The Mavericks have now alternated wins and losses in each of their last seven games (vs. Minnesota 11/12 to vs. L.A. Lakers 11/21).
Here are notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Sixers.
The Mavericks have won three straight and 10 of the last 12 meetings with the Sixers. Dallas has taken eight of the last 12 matchups with Philadelphia on the road. The Mavericks have won six straight and eight of the last nine meetings with Philadelphia at home. The two teams met once in 2011-12 (on 2/17/12) and Dallas recorded an 82-75 victory on the road. Dirk Nowitzki recorded game highs of 28 points and 12 rebounds for Dallas in the win. It was a memorable performance based on how dominant he was over a significant portion of the game. If you don’t remember, he went 8-for-11 from the field in the second half and scored 24 of his 28 points after intermission, equaling the amount of points scored by the entire Sixers’ team in the final 24 minutes. Over the previous 15 seasons, only three other players had scored as many points as the opposing team in a half: Tracy McGrady on 3/9/03 (outscored Denver 37-32 in first half), Kobe Bryant on 1/22/06 (outscored Toronto 55-41 in second half) and Dwyane Wade on 11/10/09 (outscored Washington 29-27 in second half). Dominique Jones (12) and Vince Carter (10) were the only players who scored in double figures for the Mavericks in the win on 2/17/12.
It’s a Small World:
Mavericks forward Elton Brand played four seasons with the Sixers from 2008-12 and averaged 13.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.3 blobkcs, 1.0 steals and 31.5 minutes in 246 games (221 starts) with Philadelphia. Mavericks guard Darren Collison and Sixers guard Jrue Holiday started all 35 games for the UCLA Bruins in 2008-09. Collison was named to the All-Pac 10 team that year and Holiday was named to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team. Sixers guard Jason Richardson (fifth overall pick) and Mavericks forward Troy Murphy (14th overall pick) were both drafted by Golden State in the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft and played five-and-a-half seasons together with the Warriors from 2001-07. Mavericks forward Brandan Wright and Sixers guard Dorell Wright were teammates on the Warriors for the first half of the 2010-11 season. Wright (Nashville) and Sixers forward Thaddeus Young (Memphis) both grew up in Tennessee. Sixers center Kwame Brown (Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Ga.), Mavericks center Bernard James (Windsor Forest HS in Savannah, Ga.) and Mavericks forward Jae Crowder (Villa Rica HS in Villa Rica, Ga.) all attended high school in Georgia. Mavericks assistant coach Jim O’Brien was the head coach of the Sixers in 2004-05 and led Philadelphia to a 43-39 (.524) record and a postseason appearance.
1. See if a reunion gets Elton Brand going. As it was mentioned earlier, Elton Brand played four seasons with the Sixers before he joined the Mavericks this season. Maybe seeing a familiar set of players and being in his old stomping grounds could get the forward going. Brand is averaging career lows in points (5.5 per game), rebounds (5.8) and minutes (22.0). Those numbers are a sharp drop off from his career averages of 18.1 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor. At 34.2 percent, Brand’s shooting has been one of the most baffling problems for the Mavericks. It’s definitely a situation that needs continued monitoring.
2. Trust the rookies. After the tough loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Shawn Marion said that the team needs to keep their energy level up and give more effort out on the floor. Jae Crowder and Bernard James have been consistent this season in both of those departments. Crowder tallied a season-high 15 points to go along with a season-high-tying four rebounds and a season-best four steals in 21 minutes vs. the L.A. Lakers (11/24). It was his second consecutive double-figure scoring game and his fourth of the season (12 vs. New York 11/21; 12 vs. Washington 11/14; 10 vs. Charlotte 11/3). James has recorded five-plus rebounds in each of his last four games (at Indiana 11/16-vs. L.A. Lakers 11/24). Energy and effort are in demand. The second round draft picks can definitely deliver in those areas.
3. Play with a stronger disposition on defense. The offense has been an issue at times during the season, but the Mavericks are still scoring. Dallas needs to get their disposition back in terms of defense. They allowed players zoom right by them during the game against the Lakers. They continue to have issues on the glass. It’s more of a challenge to operate within your offense if you have to take the ball out of the basket. The Mavericks are scoring over 100 points/game, but they could operate easier if they can get out in transition. They’ll be able to do that with better play on defense. Guys will need to trust each other and stay strong in terms of defense in order to see improvement and consistency that is necessary during this road trip.
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.