Practice Report (03/26/12)
Earl K. Sneed reports from the Dallas Mavericks' Monday practice as the defending champions prepare for the back end of a home-and-home series with the Houston Rockets.
DALLAS -- Two days after sneaking out of Houston with a 101-99 overtime win over the Rockets, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle’s focus was simple: defense, rebounding and health.
Monday, the defending champion Mavericks (28-22) returned to the practice court in preparation for Tuesday night's rematch with their Southwest Division rivals in a home-and-home series. The Mavs also looked to make adjustments and corrections before facing off with the Rockets (26-23) one more time, likely doing so short-handed again after starting center Brendan Haywood (sprained right knee) and newcomer Delonte West (fractured right ring finger) participated in practice but didn't go through contact drills.
"[Haywood and West] did some things today," Carlisle simply said. "We didn't do a lot of live-contact things today, but they went through a lot of other stuff. So, they're inching closer. ... Both their statuses have been upgraded to questionable, so right now we're gonna keep it at that. A day like today, you wait till tomorrow morning, see how they feel, but I don't know. We need them back, but we need them back under the right pretenses."
With Haywood expected to return possibly as soon as Tuesday night after missing five games due to the injury, the attention has shifted to West, who has been sidelined since Feb. 15. And although he is itching to return to action, West isn't rushing to get back too soon, targeting early next week as a return date but not ruling out the Mavs' two-game road trip to Miami and Orlando on Thursday and Friday.
"At this juncture, it's not no rush but I'm targeting next week," West said. "Depending on today or tomorrow, I probably could get out there at the end of this week, the two road games, but we'll see how things go with therapy the next couple of days."
He added: "I ain't gonna lie ... [the finger] hurts. But I guess it's a mental thing, just feeling like you're not gonna break it again. Every time you take some serious contact on it, you know, the pain is a rude awakening to you. ... Maybe a nice, solid, good week of therapy and strengthening and I should be back out there."
Meanwhile, without West and possibly minus Haywood again, the Mavericks will try to create further separation between themselves and the Rockets in the standings, sitting at No. 5 in the Western Conference entering Monday and just 1 1/2 up on the eighth-place Houston team.
And with very little scouting necessary after seeing the same Rockets squad Saturday night, the Mavericks will try to build momentum off their last victory with another one in front of their hometown fans.
"There's familiarity because you just played them, on the one hand. On the other hand, they're gonna make adjustments and we're gonna have to make some adjustments as well," Carlisle explained. "There are some things that we've gotta do better, obviously, from our perspective and, look, it's two teams that are very close in the standings, too. So, the intensity of the game is gonna be there and right now we're in ramp-it-up mode. Every game is critical. Every day we step in the gym it has meaning. And we've gotta approach it that way."
Note: Tuesday night, the Mavs again face off against the Rockets in the second game of the home-and-home series. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
Single-game tickets are on sale and available at the American Airlines Center North Box Office, online at mavs.com, via phone by calling 214-747-MAVS or 1-800-4NBA-TIX and all Ticketmaster outlets (Fiesta Grocery Stores, Wal-Mart, Simon Mall in Garland and the Shops at Willow Bend in Plano).