PHILADELPHIA – To a man, the Dallas Mavericks plan on giving the Philadelphia 76ers the same amount of respect Monday night when the two teams collide that they always give the world champion Golden State Warriors.
That’s because the Mavs know if they don’t, they may suffer an embarrassing defeat which could wind up costing them down the road when the playoff invitations are doled out.
While the Warriors are sitting pretty with a 11-0 record, the Sixers are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum at 0-10. In fact, Philadelphia is the only team in the NBA without a victory this season.
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"I’ve watched their last three games, and for me it’s the most dangerous game on the schedule because of how hard they play,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said after Monday morning’s shootaround. "They hang in games.
"They’re going to win their share of games before the season’s over, there’s no doubt about that, so it’s a challenge. It’s a challenge because they’re a lot better team than what their record is.’’
The Mavs-Sixers game tips off Monday night at 6 at the Wells Fargo Center.
One formula for success the Mavs hope will shatter the Sixers’ confidence is to start Monday’s game off the right way. The Mavs know if they can keep the Sixers doubting themselves early, it probably will last throughout the course of the game.
But if the Sixers are able to establish a moderate amount of success in the first half, the Mavs (6-4) know they will be in a dogfight in the second half.
"They’re desperate and they’re playing with nothing to lose at this point,’’ forward Chandler Parsons said. "They’re 0-10, they’re young, they’re athletic, they’re going to play hard, so we have to come into the game with a level of respect for them that they can beat us.
"We don’t want to be that team that they’re going to get their first win. They can definitely complete. We just have to take them seriously and respect them, and if we do what we can control tonight, then it should be fun.’’
Parsons believe the Mavs can learn from what happened to them last Tuesday in New Orleans. The Pelicans were 0-6 at the time and were the only Western Conference team without a victory.
But New Orleans took control of the game early and wound up drilling the Mavs, 120-105.
"It’s the same type of thing,’’ Parsons said. "It’s a tough game.
"We’re going to come in here with the crowd – it might not be very many people in here, but if they get going it’s going to get loud. Like I said, they’re going to play hard and they’re going to do everything they can to try and win.’’
The Mavs won the first game of this three-game road trip Saturday in Houston and will conclude this trip Wednesday night in Boston. But they’re definitely not overlooking the Sixers and thinking about the Celtics.
"I just think this just comes down to it’s one of these games where you just got to respect the opponent,’’ Carlisle said. "There is just no two ways about it.
"We’ve got to have a collective will to be ready to play every game, not just Philadelphia or some other team that has a struggling record. Things are so fragile in this league that you’ve got to treat every game and every moment with the utmost respect.’’
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