The Dallas Mavericks (7-9) will host the Detroit Pistons (5-12) on Saturday night. Despite having two struggling teams going at it, the night will be special as for the eighth year, the Dallas Mavericks and American Airlines are joining together for the annual “Seats for Soldiers” event. Mavericks season ticket holders will provide a special tribute to U.S. military personnel by donating their seats to wounded soldiers. Over 100 wounded service members from Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and other troops on reserve in the
Dallas/Fort Worth area will travel to Dallas to see the Mavericks play the Pistons.
Dallas Mavericks season ticket holder Neal Hawks originated the concept, and he and other front-row season ticket holders have again generously donated their courtside seats for the game, valued at more than $350,000. The Mavericks are 6-1 (.857) all-time in “Seats for Soldiers” games, most recently defeating that Jazz (103-97) at American Airlines Center on 12/11/10. Dallas’ only loss in a “Seats for Soldiers” game came against the Pistons on 12/7/06 (lost 92-82). The Mavericks’ first-ever “Seats for Soldiers” game occurred on 12/18/04 and Dallas defeated Atlanta by 22 (90-68). However, four of the last six “Seats for Soldiers” games have been decided by six points or less and two were decided in overtime (Dallas defeated Orlando 109-103 in overtime on 12/16/05 and Charlotte 98-97 in overtime on 12/12/09). No event was held in 2011-12 due to the work stoppage.
Saturday also marks the debut of Derek Fisher. Dallas is hoping Fisher’s experience can help the team. He ranks 34th all-time in regular-season games played. Fisher has also
appeared in 229 postseason games, which is the third-highest total in NBA history (Robert Horry 244; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 237). He won five NBA championships
with the Lakers (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010).
Here are notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Pistons.
Dallas has won eight of the last 10 meetings with Detroit. The Mavericks and the Pistons met once in 2011-12 (at Detroit on 1/10/12) and Dallas recorded a 100-86 win. Dirk Nowitzki scored 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting in the win over Detroit on 1/10/12. The .900 field goal percentage was the highest field goal percentage he has recorded in any game in his career (minimum 10 field goal attempts). Shawn Marion (14), Vince Carter (11) and Ian Mahinmi (10) also scored in double figures for the Mavericks against the Pistons on 1/10/12. The two teams split the 2010-11 season series (1-1), with the home team winning both times. Dirk Nowitzki tallied a season-high 42 points to go along with 12 rebounds vs. Detroit on 11/23/10. The 42 points tied the Dallas series scoring record vs. Detroit (Michael Finley had 42 vs. Detroit on 11/27/02). The Mavericks have won four straight and eight of the last 10 meetings with the Pistons at home. The meeting between the Pistons and the Mavericks on 10/30/01 not only opened the 2001-02 season, but also marked the first-ever game at American Airlines Center (Dallas won 94-87). The Pistons snapped a five-game losing streak against the Mavericks with a win at Detroit on 1/17/11. The Mavericks have still taken five of the last six overall meetings against the Pistons.
It’s a Small World:
Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle began his head coaching career with Detroit and coached the Pistons for two seasons (2001-02 and 2002-03), leading them to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002-03…Carlisle posted a 100-64 (.610) record with Detroit. The Pistons won the Central Division Championship both years he was at the helm. Following his first year as head coach of Detroit (2001-02), Carlisle earned NBA Coach of the Year honors.
Mavericks center Chris Kaman was born in Grand Rapids, Mich., and went on to play his college ball at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Vince Carter played for Pistons head coach Lawrence Frank in New Jersey from 2005-09. Mavericks forward Elton Brand and Pistons forward Corey Maggette were college teammates at Duke during the 1998-99 seasonThey reached the championship game together that year, but lost to Connecticut. Brand and Maggette went on to play seven seasons together in the NBA as members of the L.A. Clippers from 2001-08. Kaman, who was drafted by the Clippers in 2003, also played five seasons with both Maggette and Brand in Los Angeles from 2003-08.
1. Get O.J. Mayo back on track. In his last three games, Mayo is only averaging 9.3 points on 32.4 percent shooting from the field, 10.0 percent from 3-point range. In eight career games vs Detroit, Mayo has shot 26.3 percent from the field but has shot 53.8 percent from 3-point range. Detroit guards have allowed opponents to shoot 44.5 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from 3. On average, they allow 19.1 points/game. The Mavericks need Mayo to get back in form.
2. Use the American Airlines Center to their advantage. Dallas averages 12 more points at home versus being on the road. Detroit averages 12.6 more at home versus being on the road. Across the league, only Miami has bigger differential. Dallas averages 105 points/game at home. Detroit averages only 89 points/game on the road.
3. Get solid point guard play. Turnovers and overall control of the offense have seen better days, so Derek Fisher and Darren Collison will have to work together to get things back in order. It remains to be seen how much time Fisher will see on the floor in his first game with the Mavericks. The hope is that the newest Maverick will bring a calming influence to the team when he’s on the floor. Dallas needs to play with better control, so Fisher will be asked to help direct traffic for the team. If he can do anything similar to what Jason Kidd did in terms of controlling the offense, the Mavericks will be in a better place.
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.