Wesley Matthews worked diligently over the past several months to get back on the basketball court before the regular season started.
The hard work put the Dallas Mavericks guard back on the court ahead of when he was projected to return. But, like all good deeds, it came with a price.
When asked Saturday if he’s where he wants to be from a conditioning standpoint, Matthews said: “It’s been seven months since I played basketball, so no, I’m not. But I’ll get there, and I’m getting there. I’m getting stronger every single game. I feel better and more comfortable every single night, so it’s a process.”
We’re essentially a brand new team. Injuries are never an easy thing to overcome for any team, however [the team was] assembled. But for us it’s different because we’ve all got to find on-court chemistry, and we weren’t able to do that in a traditional manner.
Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews.
On March 11, Matthews underwent surgery to repair his torn left Achilles. The injury occurred on March 4 while Matthews was still playing for the Portland Trail Blazers, coincidentally in a home game against the Mavericks.
A little over four months after that injury and while still rehabbing his Achilles, Matthews signed a four-year, $70 million free-agent contract with the Mavericks.
In addition to Matthews, the Mavericks have been strapped with so many injuries that they haven’t had their expected starting five on the court at the same time for any practice or game this season.
“We’re essentially a brand new team,” Matthews said. “Injuries are never an easy thing to overcome for any team, however [the team was] assembled.
“But for us it’s different because we’ve all got to find on-court chemistry, and we weren’t able to do that in a traditional manner. It’s not an excuse. We’ve got talent, we’ve got everything that you need to be a good team, we’ve just got to go out there and do it.”
In time, Matthews believes the Mavericks will be a serious factor in the Western Conference playoff race. But they have to overcome the early setbacks.
“I’ve been behind the eight ball my whole career,” Matthews said. “I don’t want to hear any of that. …Behind the eight ball or not, we’ve got a job to do and that’s to win games.”
I like his energy. He’s rebounding well. He’s brought his fouls down the past couple games. It’s an adjustment because now he’s playing more. He’s really playing more [center] than [power forward], but he can do it. He needs to learn it, so he’s doing some good things.
Coach Rick Carlisle on Dwight Powell
Powell steps up
While the Mavericks haven’t been at their very best at the center position this season, they sure have gotten a lot of mileage out of Dwight Powell.
Built like a power forward, Powell has produced eight or more rebounds in four of the Mavericks’ first five games. He also registered his first career double-double when he scored 10 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in Tuesday’s game against the Toronto Raptors.
“I like his energy, he’s rebounding well, he’s brought his fouls down the past couple games,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s an adjustment because now he’s playing more. He’s really playing more [center] than [power forward], but he can do it. He needs to learn it, so he’s doing some good things.”
Powell kept his positive momentum going Saturday night against New Orleans when he scored the Mavericks’ final seven points of the first quarter.