Mavs Spotlight: Turning the page on the Mavs' first half of the season
Mavs Spotlight (01/21/13)
Turning the page on the Mavs' first half of the season
Within a span of 10 days, the Mavericks (18-24) hiked up the Western Conference standings from seven games back of the eighth and final playoff position to three games behind that spot after winning five of their last six outings. The Mavs also put the first half of the season in their rearview mirror, sitting just 40 games away from the finish line after Sunday’s hard-fought 111-105 victory in Orlando.
“Well, it’s not really free time. [Monday] is a big planning day for the staff. You know, the players will be off, and then Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday is an opportunity for us to get our team better; to clean some things up, to shore up some weaknesses, to work on some strengths,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle explained. “We’ve got to get the right combination of work and rest during that period and then the hard games keep coming.”
“Basically the second half of the season started today, so hopefully we can make a push,” 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki added after Sunday’s win in Orlando. “I think we had a big week. Now, we’re only three games back of the eighth spot, and when we started this week it was almost seven. So it was definitely a great week for us. Now, we’ve got four days off and we’ve got some time to mix in a little rest, but also a lot of good work and get better. Then we’ve got the Spurs Friday, which is obviously one of the best teams in the West.”
With Nowitzki yet to hit his All-Star level stride, averaging 13.9 points per game on just 40.8 percent shooting to go along with 5.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists in his first 15 appearances (nine starts) after preseason arthroscopic knee surgery, the Mavs have found their calling card through balanced play. Sunday’s win was the blueprint for that winning formula as seven Mavericks scored in double figures to sprint to a seventh straight road win over the Magic in Orlando.
But still sitting six games below .500, the Mavericks admit that the work is far from done. And after battling out of a drought that left the team 10 games below the even mark for the first time since March 30, 2000, following a 99-93 road loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 9, the Mavs will try to continue their upward trend when they return to action against a San Antonio team that has claimed two double-digit wins this season at Dallas’ expense.
“Balance has got to be one of the keys to our team,” Carlisle explained. “Until Dirk gets all the way back, we can’t heap it all on him. We can’t heap it all on anybody the way we’re set up now. Our approach is to be a balanced team. We try not to play anybody too heavy minutes. The games are all of major importance. The guys care, so they’ve hung in and stayed the course, and it has not been easy.”
He added: “It’s been tough the first 41. I think we’re three (games) back now. We’re in the hunt for the playoffs. That’s going to be our motivation. We’ve got three quality practice days coming up. We’ve got to make the best of them and we have to keep improving as a team.”
Note: The Mavericks will now enjoy a break in the schedule before returning to action Friday night at home against the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs lead the season series 2-0 after two double-digit wins back in December. The game will air locally at 7 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest and nationally on ESPN. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.