Dallas Mavericks, New Season: Full of Hope and the Same Old Bad Habits

Janet KesslerCorrespondent INovember 5, 2010

The Mavericks rode behind Dirk Nowitzki's 35pts for a come from behind win.
The Mavericks rode behind Dirk Nowitzki's 35pts for a come from behind win.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

We're only four games into the 2010-11 season, am I wrong to be so to be critical about the Dallas Mavericks now?  Mavs fans, we need to be critical when the Mavs are making the same dumb mistakes from last season.  You know, the ones that ended up handing the Mavericks another first round exit in the playoffs against an opponent (San Antonio Spurs) that they should have defeated.

So what am I griping about since they won against the Denver Nuggets?  After all a win is a win and all that B.S. right? 

It is how the Mavs won this game that is giving me grief right now; we've seen this before.  The Mavs made the games harder than it should have been on themselves, that kind of game play plagued them all of last season.  The game against Denver is a perfect example of what is currently wrong with the Mavericks right now. 
I know, I know...the Mavericks were playing in Denver in the Mile High thin air, so a little sluggishness can be expected.  That would be all good if both teams were at even strength; Denver was a wounded animal that night, so the Mavericks should have quickly gone in for the kill.
Lets look at the players in street clothes for the Nuggets that night: sitting pretty in suits, we saw starting center Nene, starting power forward Kenyon Martin and lastly, sixth man Chris "Birdman" Andersen.  All of the Nuggets big men had front row seats to watch the game, while their coach George Karl had two game plans: play small and ultra small ball, and Karl almost got away with the win.

We saw this too much last season. The Mavericks would either get beat down by an opponent missing their star scorers or trail the whole game to only pull out the win, like they did in this game, in the final minutes.  That kind of play killed the Mavericks in the postseason, and it will doom them to an early exit again this season.
The Mavericks turnovers, 13 in all, were just bad again!  Mavericks gave the Nuggets too many second-chance opportunities.  Opportunities that netted 15 points for the Nuggets and kept the Mavericks trailing most of the game. 
Too many transition drives ended for the Mavericks with a miss at the rim, even Dirk Nowitzki missed a chippy.  Finally, our center Tyson Chandler had to take matters (and the ball) into his own hands. He woke everyone, on the floor and in the stands, up with a thunderous slam dunk.
Late in first quarter, the Mavericks started to capitalize on their advantage in size by feeding the ball through Nowitzki, who was exploiting his extra girth at 7 ft, over the more petite J.R. Smith at 6'6".  The mismatch resulted in a late quarter push led by Nowitzki.
The best effort from the Mavericks defense came from Caron Butler on the Nuggets' star scorer, Carmello Anthony, who was 8-of-19 shooting for the night.  With help from Shawn Marion off the bench, Butler was able to lock down Anthony for most of game.  The focus on defense limited Butler's and Marion's touches, thus reducing their scoring production.
The Mavericks bench let the Nuggets bench out score them by 30-19.  Our weak scoring bench will cause our starters to play higher than normal minutes, if this continues through the season.  For example, Dirk played all of the first quarter, minus 18.9 seconds.
In preseason, rookie guard Dominique Jones was playing alongside Chandler, and a budding two-man game was starting to evolve between them, usually resulting in a slam-down by Chandler.  With the regular season and Chandler at starting center, the two are rarely on the floor together.  Did the Mavericks coaches miss seeing the chemistry between Jones and Chandler?
Another weakness is in the Mavericks perimeter defense, and I saw this in the preseason too.  A jump shooter can just park outside the three-point line, and shoot tres all night.  Where was the Maverick covering that guy?  Jump shooting by the way, was how Denver was able to stay ahead of the Mavericks for most of the night.
Jason Terry starting at the two-guard is adequate for now; his energy helps to keep the start of games from being too slow by the Mavericks.  When Rodrique Beaubois returns from injury, and is back to full speed, Terry's minutes may be cut to make room for Beaubois. 

I saw flexibility in coach Rich Carlisle with four seconds left in the game, and surprise, surprise, the Mavericks were holding on to a one point lead.  The Nuggets would have the last shot and chance to win the game.  Carlisle opted for Marion over Nowitzki, for the last defensive stand, which proved to be the game saving exchange. 

I'll end all this negativity for now as long as the Mavericks show signs of improving, and they need to make a better showing in the re-match against the Nuggets on Saturday.  I keep telling myself it's early in the season, but too many warning signs are there, and I can't sit quietly.