Dallas Mavericks

Mavericks midseason report: Five things to watch in the second half

Dirk Nowitzki, right, could earn a 14th trip the All-Star Game, but he might prefer to rest a few days instead.
Dirk Nowitzki, right, could earn a 14th trip the All-Star Game, but he might prefer to rest a few days instead. AP

1 Chandler Parsons’ offensive numbers should increase in the season’s second half. Since Parsons spent most of the first half of the season trying to recover from hybrid microfracture surgery on his right knee, coach Rick Carlisle initially said it wouldn’t be until January before Parsons’ offensive game would take shape. However, Carlisle recently amended that and said it wouldn’t be until after next month’s All-Star break before the Parsons returns to form. Last year Parsons averaged 15.7 points a game, but the five-year veteran has only averaged 9.7 a game thus far.

2 As JaVale McGee continues to get in better condition while overcoming the stress fractures in his left tibia, his minutes will likely increase from the 11.6 minutes he averaged while playing only 22 games in the first half of the season. That’s because the Mavericks need a shot-blocking presence if they plan on getting out of the first round of the playoffs. While starting center Zaza Pachulia has been effective with a career-high 20 double-doubles, he doesn’t have the shot-blocking abilities that McGee has.

 

3 He may or may not like this, but Dirk Nowitzki could get another berth in another All-Star Game. That’s how good the 13-time All-Star’s game is right now. If the Mavericks remain among the top five teams in the Western Conference, more than likely the Western Conference coaches will vote one of the Mavs in as an All-Star participant. And that player likely will be Nowitzki, who is averaging a team-high 17.8 points a game along with 6.8 rebounds, while continuing to defy Father Time at 37. Nowitzki also is shooting 45.6 percent from the field and 39.9 percent from 3-point range.

 

4 The Mavericks are practically making a vow that their defense will be much better in the second half of the season. And if Friday’s game against the Chicago Bulls is any indication, they’re well on their way to making that prediction come true. In the second half, the Mavs held the Bulls to 31 points, 13-of-41 shooting from the field and 2-of-11 shooting from 3-point range. The Mavericks had other games in the first half in which their stingy defense surfaced. They held the Spurs to 88 points and 40.7 percent shooting during a Nov. 25 game in San Antonio. They just didn’t show their defensive claws it on a consistent basis.

 

5 It should get to a point in the season’s second half where folks are surprised when Zaza Pachulia doesn’t rack up a double-double. The 13-year veteran played 39 games in the first half of the season and collected 20 double-doubles. That’s good enough for ninth in the NBA. And there were eight other games where Pachulia was either one or two points or one or two rebounds away from a double-double. Pachulia is on pace to finish the season with 41 double-doubles. Not bad for a player the Mavericks acquired from Milwaukee last summer for only a second-round draft pick. Pachulia averages 10.8 points and 10.8 rebounds a game.

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