With their regular season set to start on Wednesday, the Dallas Mavericks are no different than the other 29 NBA teams.
As the Mavericks set their sights on their season opener at Indiana, they’ve been busy trying to hide their weaknesses and develop some much-needed chemistry. How quickly the Mavericks can complete those tasks will determine how well they’ll mesh this season.
“Of course, every team has strengths and weaknesses,” Mavericks star forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “No team is perfect.
We’ve got to find a good rotation that works and find good lineups that work well together.
Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki
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“It’s about playing hard through it, it’s about hiding your weaknesses, playing to your strengths, and that’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to find a good rotation that works and find good lineups that work well together.”
The Mavericks have a starting lineup of center Andrew Bogut, guards Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews, and forwards Harrison Barnes and Nowitzki.
But their backup guards — Devin Harris and J.J. Barea — are not the picture of health.
Harris injured his left foot in Friday’s preseason finale against Denver, and Barea sprained his left elbow in practice last week and missed the last two preseason games.
I think Barea’s going to play. [Devin] Harris is questionable at best, and I would say at this point he’s doubtful. Very doubtful, so we’ll just have to see.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle
Asked after Monday’s practice his level of concern on possibly playing the Pacers without Harris and Barea, coach Rick Carlisle said: “I don’t want to think about that question. I think Barea’s going to play.
“Harris is questionable at best, and I would say at this point he’s doubtful. Very doubtful, so we’ll just have to see.”
Without Harris, newcomer Seth Curry moves up in the rotation as a backup point guard who can also double as a shooting guard. A free agent signee who played last season for the Sacramento Kings, Curry was a bright spot of the preseason.
“I feel he’s an improving defender, and offensively he can cause a lot of problems for the defense,” Carlisle said. “He can shoot, he can drive it, he can make plays, and he has a vision of the floor.
“There was no doubt he was going to figure into this season prominently in some form or fashion. Pending Devin’s situation, we’re going to really need him.”
The Mavericks, 2-5 in preseason, also need the 7-foot Bogut to be at his rim-protecting best, while grabbing rebounds and being a threat on offense.
But Carlisle knows Bogut will be asked to do more with the Mavericks than he did in his four seasons with the high-octane Golden State Warriors.
He was always a trailer at Golden State — here it’s different.
Carlisle, on new Mavericks center Andrew Bogut
“Andrew’s learning a different set of responsibilities because of our different personnel,’’ Carlisle said. “And this is going to be more challenging physically for him to get up the floor and be able to be a factor on the inside every time down.
“He was always a trailer at Golden State — here it’s different. We have different needs, and it’s been an adjustment, and it’s going to be an adjustment for a while.”
For his team, Carlisle hopes trying to mask weaknesses and play to their strengths — while developing much-needed chemistry — doesn’t take a long time.
Otherwise, this could be a long season.
Mavericks at Pacers
Season opener, 6 p.m., FSSW