The Dallas Mavericks will have to make do without guard J.J. Barea for at least the next three games, and maybe even longer.
Barea suffered a sprained right ankle in the second half of Wednesday’s 88-83 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
After Friday’s practice at American Airlines Center, coach Rick Carlisle said that Barea’s return is more on a week-to-week basis rather than a day-to-day basis.
I guess the way to describe it is that it could have been worse.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle on J.J. Barea
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“It’s not considered serious; he’s not day-to-day,” Carlisle said. “I guess the way to describe it is that it could have been worse.
“He probably won’t play the next three [games] and we’ll go from there. He is going to travel on the trip next week as we plan right now.”
After hosting the Denver Nuggets at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at AAC, the Mavs (9-7) will hit the road for games Monday in Sacramento and Tuesday in Portland before returning home against the Houston Rockets on Dec. 4.
What J.J. does the greatest is change the pace of the game.
Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews
Barea averages 8.6 points and 4.1 assists in 19.8 minutes off the bench. Without him, the Mavs will have to rely more on Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Devin Harris and Raymond Felton to carry the load in the backcourt.
“Everybody’s got to step up,” Matthews said. “What J.J. does the greatest is change the pace of the game.”
Now, others will have to fill that role.
“Instead of playing five guards, we’re going to play four,” Carlisle said. “[Rookie forward Justin] Anderson could bump to some shooting guard, and we’ve got [John] Jenkins sitting over there who’s been ready to play. We’ll figure it out.”
The Mavs hope to figure it out in time to break their three-game losing streak.
“It’s a team effort,” small forward Chandler Parsons said. “When someone goes down it gives other guys an opportunity.
“We obviously want J.J. back as soon as possible. But other guys got to step up in his absence.”
Dirk Nowitzki is the oldest player on the Mavs’ squad by five years. But he’s been so effective that the Mavs must find a way to get the elder statesman more shots.
Nowitzki averages a team-high 17.4 points to go with 7.1 rebounds in only 29.7 minutes per game. And he leads the NBA in 3-point shooting (51 percent) and overall is shooting 52.7 percent from the field.
Nowitzki, however, has 13 or fewer field goal attempts in nine of the Mavs’ 16 games.
Matthews said some of it has to do with the Mavs needing to space the floor better.
“Spacing, and continuing to get familiar with each other,” Matthews said.
Parsons said Nowitzki needs to be a bit more selfish.
“Every time he gets an open look he’s got to let it go,” Parsons said. “I know he means well and he’s trying to do the right thing, but he’s passed up some open looks.
“It’s our job to screen for him, to space the floor and get him the ball in spots that he’s very effective.”
Carlisle said opponents are still keying on Nowitzki as they have throughout the overwhelming majority of his 18-year career.
“He’s getting a lot of attention,” Carlisle said. “A lot of double-teaming [Wednesday night] from San Antonio when they were switching.
“Don’t underestimate greatness at any age. The guy is still a great player.”
Mavericks vs. Nuggets
7:30 p.m. Saturday, FSW