If Wesley Matthews’ game has changed since he left Portland in the summer of 2015 to play for the Dallas Mavericks, Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts hasn’t noticed it.
“I think he’s the same player that he was in Portland,” Stotts said prior to Friday’s Mavs-Blazers game. “I know he’s not shooting the ball well right now, but he’s getting good looks, and you don’t forget how to be a good shooter.”
While he was playing for Stotts and the Blazers, Matthews had to be helped off the court after he tore his left Achilles in March of 2015. At the end of that season, the veteran shooting guard became a free agent and ultimately signed a four-year, $70 million contact with the Mavs.
Admittedly, Matthews wasn’t at full strength last season. But he still became one of the Mavs’ best defenders – a title he still holds thus far this season.
“He’s definitely healthier,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “His health has improved by the day since we acquired him.
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“He’s become one of the faces of our team. His intensity, his presence out there as our best perimeter defender, and his attitude is a big part of who we are.”
Stotts coached Matthews from 2012 to 2015, and raved about how much he meant to his squad.
“I don’t see any ill effects necessarily of his Achilles,” Stotts said. “I think the Mavericks already know how important he is in the locker room.
“He’s got a very strong drive and a heart, and we were very fortunate to have that for those first three years that I was there.”
Carlisle lauds Stotts, Casey
Carlisle, Stotts and Toronto coach Dwane Casey will always be joined at the hip.
When the Mavs captured their lone NBA title in 2011 with Carlisle as their coach, Stotts was the team’s offensive coordinator and Casey was its defensive coordinator. Both Stotts and Casey parlayed that success into running their own squads.
And last year, Casey and the Raptors reached the Eastern Conference Finals, while Stotts and the Blazers advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
“They’re both two of the top coaches in the league now,” Carlisle said. “They both work extremely hard, they fought very hard to gain really high-level contracts.
“It’s not easy going through that whole thing, but they’ve both really proven that they belong in that top tier and I’m extremely happy for both of them,” Carlisle said. “They’re great friends, great basketball people and both were integral parts of our championship year, and they’ll always be in the Mavericks family to some degree and on some level.”
▪ Center Andrew Bogut missed Friday’s game for personal reasons.
▪ In the previous four games – all starts – Bogut averaged 4.5 points and a team-high 10.5 rebounds in only 23 minutes per game.
▪ The Mavs host Milwaukee at 6 p.m. Sunday before going on a four-game road trip starting Tuesday at the Lakers.
Milwaukee Bucks at Dallas Mavericks
6 p.m. Sunday, FSSW