Practice report: Marion set for return as Mavs await JET, Celtics
DALLAS — When they welcome back one of the franchise’s most recognizable faces on Friday night against the Boston Celtics, the Dallas Mavericks will also reinsert a four-time All-Star back into the lineup.
While guard Jason Terry walks into the American Airlines Center as a visitor with the Celtics (36-31) after spending eight seasons in Dallas prior to signing as a free agent in Boston this past offseason, versatile forward Shawn Marion will also make a return to the floor following an eight-game hiatus due to a strained left calf injury.
And with the injury apparently behind him, Marion will try to help lift a Dallas defense that has allowed 113 points in each of the last two games. “It’s feeling a lot better,” Marion said of the nagging calf after going through the Mavs’ full Thursday practice hours following a 113-96 loss to Brooklyn. “I still feel it a little bit, but it’s not enough to hold me back. I’m able to do a little bit more things and put some pressure on it. … It’s feeling better definitely and I’m ready to go.”
“We definitely could have used some of his defense the last couple of games,” 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said as the team’s defensive catalyst gets set for a return. “Our defense has been terrible and he’s our best defender on the perimeter. He’s a very versatile offensive player for us. He does a little bit of everything — some screen-and-rolls, some posting, some cutting and slicing. So it’s definitely going to be good to see him back, and we’ll definitely need him for the stretch run.”
Meanwhile, the Mavericks (32-26) will try to ruin Terry’s return to Dallas, looking to avenge a 117-115 overtime loss in Boston on Dec. 12 but not before the sharpshooter receives a warm welcome from his long-time fans.
And after assisting the Mavs in reaching two NBA Finals series before claiming the franchise’s first title in the 2010-11 campaign, Terry figures to be greeted with an eruption of emotions in an arena he helped fill for eight seasons.
“He was a great ambassador for the city. Always busy in the community every day, and on the court we all know what he meant for us,” Nowitzki said of his former teammate. “One of the best clutch shooters I’ve played with and obviously he was a big reason why we won the championship a couple of years ago. You know, he deserves a big ovation. After all that he’s done here for sure.”
“Well, he’ll get a great reception,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle added. “He’s one of the most beloved players I think in the history of this franchise because of his personality, his relationship with the fans and the community and he was a great player. He was a primetime, great player in the clutch and guys like that always distinguish themselves. So it will be emotional I’m sure for him, I’m sure for the fans and for some of us that got to know him well. And we’ll be happy to see him, but we know how good he is and we’re game planning for him, too. … He’s Mavericks royalty and that’s clear, so it’s unusual. I don’t know if awkward is the word, but we’ve got to deal with it.”
Note: The Mavericks return to action and continue their homestand Friday night against ex-Mav Jason Terry and the Boston Celtics. The Celtics lead the season series 1-0 after handing the Mavericks a 117-115 overtime defeat in Boston on Dec. 12. 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 (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
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