The Dallas Mavericks will seek to redeem themselves
for their shocking first round loss to the Golden State Warriors in last
season's NBA Playoffs. After finishing the regular
season with an astonishing 67-15 record (tying for 6th best in NBA history),
and earning the top seed in the Western Conference, the Mavs became only
the third No. 1 seed in history to fall to the No. 8 seed.
Despite their disappointment, Dallas fans have ample reasons to be excited
about their team. For the seventh straight season, the Mavs reached
the 50-win plateau, and league MVP Dirk Nowitzki continues to improve each
year, adding a career high 8.9 rebounds per game to his silky smooth shooting
touch. This year he'll
have a chip on his shoulder and will try to make amends for a disappointing
It was an unusually quiet offseason for the Mavs as Owner Mark Cuban
kept most of the team together, with the only significant
losses being Austin Croshere and Anthony Johnson. The
Mavs picked up Eddie Jones, a wily veteran who should provide perimeter
depth and defense, as well as Brandon Bass,
a thick power forward who will give the Mavs a different look down low
when he backs up Nowitzki.
Look for the Mavericks to challenge San Antonio for the top spot in the
The Mavs showed confidence in Devin Harris' potential, signing him
to a five-year contract extension in September. Although he has yet
to prove to coach Avery Johnson that he can be a consistent starter, Harris
remains one of the quickest players in the league and finished with career
highs in scoring (10.2), steals (1.2), and shooting percentage (.492) last
season. Jason Terry, one the most clutch shooters in the league,
gives the Mavericks a solid threat from the outside and veteran floor leadership. With
neither player being a traditional pass-first point guard, the Mavs will
need to improve their assists per game, as they were one of only seven
teams to average fewer than 20 APG.
Maurice Ager, a promising young player, and veteran Eddie Jones round
out the Mavs backcourt.
League MVP Dirk Nowitzki posted gaudy regular season stats of 24.6 PPG,
8.9 RPG, and 3.4 APG. But the playoffs were a different matter altogether,
and with his former Coach Don Nelson pressing all the right
buttons defensively, Nowitzki stumbled with 19.7 PPG and 38% shooting. "It's
a disappointment. You can't even describe it," Nowitzki said. "You
play your heart out for six, seven months, you win 67 games, and it really
means nothing at this point. This is tough to swallow." That
sentiment should prove to be extra motivation for the reigning MVP this
season, and the Mavs have a good chance of getting back to top of the West.
has consistently improved each season in the league and finished with a
career-best 18.9 PPG during the regular season. He was lone bright
spot for the Mavs during the playoffs, tallying 21.3 PPG and 9.8 RPG.
Erick Dampier provides solid rebounding and inside toughness, and DeSagana
Diop gives the Mavs some athleticism on defense and shot-blocking at the
Newcomer Brandon Bass will give the Mavericks a different look inside
as the backup to Nowitzki.
-- Jeff Brody
Don't miss a single minute of exciting Mavs Basketball during the 2005-06 season. Full season, half season, and mini plans are available.
Dallas' early exit in the playoffs only brought more questions about
Nowitzki's leadership, but Owner Mark Cuban stood by his star. "Not
at all," Cuban said when asked if he had questions about Nowitzki as a
leader. "Not a little bit. Anyone who suggests otherwise is a moron."
Still, Coach Avery Johnson believes the reigning MVP can improve. “Dirk
can get better on and off the court,” Johnson recently told the Dallas
. “And that's why I've been stretching him. He's the reigning
MVP, and if he's not willing to be stretched by his coach, then he never would
have improved. So he's willing to be stretched. And his stretching may not
be necessarily on the court, but it may be in the area of leadership, and we're
willing to help him get better in that area.”
-- Jeff Brody
||In another dubious record, the Mavs became the first team in NBA history to win 65 games and fail to win at least one playoff series.
Career Record: 143-39 (.786)
Playoff Record: Three times, 22-20 (.524)
Avery Johnson's first task will be to get his team to forget the disappointing
playoff loss of a year ago. Bringing back the league's MVP and other
core players should provide stability to build on last year's record-setting
"We talked about finishing, and that was our motto," said Johnson. "We
didn't finish. Now, do we not start again? No. We start and we start strong
and we try to stay strong. That's the trick."
-- Jeff Brody
KNOW YOUR MAVS
Jason Terry is one of ten children in his family.
They're still going to win their games but I think the cat's kind of out of the bag about how to play them.
It's going to be a make-or-break year. If they can make a big jump again in the playoffs then all's well, but if not, they might start breaking that team up.
Howard is a young player who keeps getting better. He keeps improving his skills. He is so active, you got to match his energy. He scores with his energy. He's so long and he's a tough cover because he's always moving. In that offense, they spread you out and move him around a lot. He's a tough match-up.
Eddie Jones' veteran presence and his shooting should help, but also he knows how to guard certain guys in the league which is huge during the playoffs.
They could be the team that wins the most games again.
-- Eastern Conference Scout