Shootaround report: Mavs will share responsibility of slowing down LeBron, Heat's stars
Shootaround report: Heat (16-6) at Mavericks (12-13)
Mavs will share responsibility of slowing down LeBron, Heat's stars
With starting point guard Derek Fisher sidelined at least three games due to a strained right patellar tendon, a collection of young guards — Darren Collison, Dominique Jones and Rodrigue Beaubois — could all take turns operating as the floor general for the Dallas offense. Meanwhile, the Mavericks (12-13) could be without two players along their front line, as big men Elton Brand (groin) and Brandan Wright (sprained right ankle) both are listed as game-time decisions for the nationally-televised matchup.
Still, it’s the job of slowing down three-time MVP LeBron James that’s of the most pressing concern for the Mavs as they try to build off Tuesday’s 107-100 home win over Philadelphia. And as James comes into the night with at least 20 points in the Heat’s first 22 games — the first to accomplish that feat since Karl Malone for Utah in the 1989-90 season — the Mavericks will have stopping the game’s top player at the top of their priority list.
“Well, he’s the best all-around player on the planet right now, so he causes major problems in multiple areas,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of James. “We’ve got to try to contain him and keep him from having a big scoring night and keeping him from getting our defense broke down and getting his other guys involved. It’s a tough task.
“We’ve got to do it as a team,” he added. “You can’t say to one guy, ‘OK, guard this guy and stop him.’ That’s not how it works in this league. The rules are set up to help the offensive guys in a lot of cases and it’s got to be a five-man responsibility to deal with great players. And they’ve got three great players. … It’s challenging, but we’re going to be aggressive, we’re going to bring a lot of energy to the game and we’ve got to play as a team.”
But with the addition of the all-time 3-point king, Ray Allen, the Mavericks will not be able to load up solely on stopping the likes of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. And with leading scorer O.J. Mayo also charged with the primary responsibility of stopping Wade and Allen, the Dallas defense will in all likelihood have its hands full all night long.
“Obviously this will be a team effort,” Mayo foreshadowed. “They’ve got some great players offensively and just as well as they can score they can get others involved. So, five guys have got to be on a string. … We’ve just got to be ready to compete tonight.”
Note: The Mavericks will return to action when they play host to the NBA champion Miami Heat on Thursday night. The game will air nationally on TNT at 8:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.