In an effort to get easier baskets, there might be many times this season when the Dallas Mavericks employ a three-guard lineup.
That’s because the Mavericks know using a mostly guard-oriented attack creates situations where the ball can be quickly brought up the floor and the offense can be initiated before the defense gets set.
“This league now is about playmaking,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s defensive rebounding, and you’ve got to make shots and all that.
“But you’ve got to have guys that can break people down and score and find people and create opportunities. So you can never have too many of them. It’s like cornerbacks in the NFL.”
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As the Mavericks open the regular season Wednesday night in Phoenix, they might wind up doing what they did in the final preseason game last Friday against Chicago when they started guards Wesley Matthews, Deron Williams and Raymond Felton along with forward Dirk Nowitzki and center Zaza Pachulia.
This league now is about playmaking. It’s defensive rebounding, and you’ve got to make shots and all that.
Coach Rick Carlisle on the Mavericks using a guard-heavy lineup
At least that unit played 16 minutes together during a training camp marred by injuries and players recovering from surgery.
The Mavericks were 50-32 last season and lost in five games to Houston in the first round of the playoffs. Getting even that far this season will be no easy task in the rugged Western Conference.
Five things to watch
Do the Mavericks have enough talent to make the playoffs? The short answer is yes. But for that to happen, this might have to be one of those perfect storm seasons. Injured players can’t be out too long. This is particularly true in the case of center JaVale McGee, who — unlike Pachulia and Salah Mejri — is an experienced rim protector.
Will the real Deron Williams surface? With the point guard situation in shambles ever since Jason Kidd bolted for the New York Knicks in 2012, the Mavericks desperately need Williams to return to the form that earned him three consecutive trips to the All-Star Game from 2010-2012. Williams is talented, but coming off an injured-riddled season.
How much does Dirk have left? So far the 37-year-old Nowitzki seems to have done a nifty job dodging Father Time. He was one of the oldest players in last year’s All-Star Game. He continues to give the Mavericks 16-20 points per game. There also will be some nights when Nowitzki should be able to step back in time and carry the Mavericks.
Can Parsons elevate his game? Chandler Parsons, who has a three-year, $46 million contract, is coming off knee surgery. Yet, whenever he returns, he will be thrust into more situations where he’s running the offense now that Rajon Rondo and Monta Ellis are playing elsewhere. Parsons has a multitude of talents. Running point-forward is the best of those.
What about the bench? Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is concerned about the team’s bench, saying once they get past Devin Harris and J.J. Barea he doesn’t know what to expect. Charlie Villaneuva can add some scoring punch and Raymond Felton has proven to be a cagey veteran. But Jeremy Evans, Dwight Powell, John Jenkins, Mejri and rookie Justin Anderson are unproven.