The Mavericks will try to continue their four-game winning streak and finish off their homestand strong as the Wizards come into Dallas with a 0-23 road record. Earl K. Sneed previews the matchup.
DALLAS — On paper, the Washington Wizards should serve as the perfect opponent for the Mavericks to conclude what could be a perfect four-game homestand.
The Mavericks (31-15) enter Monday night’s matchup riding a four-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Wizards are still searching for their first road win of the season, going 0-23 thus far away from the nation’s capital.
But after suffering a season-opening 102-91 home loss to the Wizards (13-33) to start the 2009-10 campaign, the Mavericks say they can’t allow for the Washington team to come in and do the same thing this time around, especially with six of Dallas’ next seven games coming on the road.
“Crucial game Monday night,” sixth man Jason Terry said. “We don’t want to be on that side of history, and because of what they did to us two years ago early in the season. We still remember that. They’re coming in here and they want to win. They probably want to win as bad as we do. But for us, let’s close out the homestand, because we’ve got some tough games when we go back out on the road.”
The Mavs also haven’t seen rookie sensation John Wall since the Oct. 5 preseason-opener, adding even more intrigue to a showdown that would appear one-sided.
The first half of Wall’s freshman season was riddled with injuries, keeping the cat-quick point guard grounded while fellow former No. 1 overall draft pick Blake Griffin flew away with Rookie of the Year considerations. But when the young lead guard has been on the court, he has captivated both the fans in the stands and the opposing team.
After getting an up-close-and-personal view of Wall, the Mavericks know just how deadly he’s capable of becoming. Playing in just three quarters of a 97-94 exhibition road win, Wall totaled 21 points and nine assists against the Dallas defense.
“At times, we did a good job of showing him bodies and keeping him in front, but he’s as talented and skilled a player as I’ve seen come into this league in a long time,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of his team’s defense on Wall in the preseason matchup.
But the rookie will have a future Hall of Famer, Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd, lined up across from him Monday night. And Kidd hopes to stop the budding star from repeating that performance in a game that will actually count in the standings.
“This will be a great test,” Kidd said of the point guard matchup. “They have a rookie in John Wall who is very talented … It just seems like yesterday that I was looking at John Stockton, Gary Payton and Mookie Blaylock, and I was looking up to those guys. Time goes by too fast. So, I guess I’m the old man.”
And even Wall’s coach believes the young pro will look to put his best foot forward while going head-to-head with Kidd.
“It’s the first time that he’s playing against a Hall of Famer in Jason Kidd, a guy that he’s looked up to in his career. And he’s gonna be jacked up to play against him,” Wizards coach Flip Saunders said.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks hope to continue their recent stretch of balanced offensive production, after back-to-back games with seven players scoring in double figures. And with everyone making the extra pass, leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki says that the Mavericks’ offense has been at its best of late.
“It’s fun,” Nowitzki said. “We’re sharing the ball. We don’t have one selfish bone on this team. And we’re playing off of each other.”
“It’s a beautiful thing to watch when you see teams move the ball the way that we do,” Terry added.
Supreme passing and balanced scoring will again need to be the formula as the Mavericks scramble to make up for the loss of production following small forward Caron Butler’s likely season-ending knee surgery on Jan. 4.
Dallas has also cut ties with swingman Sasha Pavlovic after his second 10-day contract ran out Saturday night, putting even more on the shoulders of the Mavericks’ supporting cast until sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic (knee) and second-year guard Roddy Beaubois (left foot) return to game action.
Now, with the Wizards in town, Nowitzki says that the short-handed Mavericks will have to continue to share the ball in order to finish off their homestand without a blemish.
“We’re in a position where we’re trying to build and get better,” Nowitzki said. “And if we share the ball offensively, then I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Note: The Mavericks end their homestand Monday night against John Wall and the Washington Wizards in a matchup that will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting the American Airlines Center box office, logging on to Mavs.com or by calling 214-747-MAVS (6287).
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