Mavericks developing chemistry by keeping same starting five

Posted Thursday, Nov. 07, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Because of a variety of reasons that many times didn’t have anything to do with injuries, Rick Carlisle last season had a whopping 23 different starting lineups in the 82-game season.

By contrast, in five games this season, the Dallas Mavericks’ coach has had the same starting lineup in all five games. And he would like to keep it that way.

The reasons are obvious.

“The benefits are you can build consistency, and guys can get an opportunity to get a feel for how to play with one another,” Carlisle said. “For example, I think the first couple of games [point guard Jose] Calderon was trying to find his way with how we play.

“It’s new to him, he’s been playing with teams with a lot of set offense. But he’s a very skilled and knowledgeable player and there’s no reason that he would not fit into this style, so after the first couple of games he kind of got it.”

Last year the Mavs kept one starting lineup for 12 games and another for 11 games. All the rest lasted nine or fewer games.

This year the Mavs’ five starters are forwards Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion, guards Monta Ellis and Calderon, and center Samuel Dalembert. Ellis, Calderon and Dalembert are in their first season with the Mavs, while Nowitzki and Marion are longtime starters.

That starting five will be on the court again at 7 p.m. Friday when the Mavs (3-2) play the Minnesota Timberwolves (3-2) at the Target Center.

Owner Mark Cuban noted that having the same five players start makes things “way more comfortable” for the Mavs and develops continuity.

Plus, it also throws out the guessing game among the players.

“It makes a big difference,” Cuban said. “It feels good. Now we’ve just got to play the games.”

Carlisle, though, doesn’t want his starters slipping and thinking they’re entrenched as starters for all 82 games, barring an injury.

“I want to have consistency,” Carlisle said. “I would love to have a consistent rotation. But not to the point where guys can keep a job by playing mediocre basketball. You can’t have that.”

Mekel excels

Gal Mekel has taken advantage of his opportunity and is entrenched in the Mavs’ rotation as the backup to Calderon.

In five games, the rookie from Israel averaged 4.4 points and 3.6 assists in 15.2 minutes per game. But the Mavs know he needs to improve his shooting, because Mekel is only shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from 3-point range.

“Gal has come in and shown that he can play and he surprised a lot of people because he’s played professionally a long time and has a high basketball IQ,” Cuban said. “He’s just got to work on his shot, and it seems to be getting better.”

West wide open

Cuban said he believes the Western Conference will be as wild as ever this season.

“I think everybody thought the West was going to be super this and super that,” Cuban said. “I don’t think anybody’s looking at the West now and thinking there are all these dominant teams.

“I think everybody’s looking and saying it’s wide open.”

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice

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