When it comes to the pick-and-roll play, probably no Dallas Mavericks player knows how to operate it when Dirk Nowitzki is involved better than J.J. Barea.
Nowitzki and Barea have been teammates for seven of the past 10 seasons. So that alone gives Barea an edge when it comes to determining where the 18-year veteran likes to have the ball.
“He does understand the advantages and how to capitalize on them, but our other guards do as well,” coach Rick Carlisle said of Barea. “[Raymond] Felton is a smart player, [Devin] Harris has played with Dirk a lot.
“Harris has played really off the ball the last two and a half years, mostly. But Barea probably has the most minutes with Dirk of any of those guys, and that familiarity does help.”
Barea certainly appreciates all the benefits that come with playing with the NBA’s No. 6 all-time leading scorer.
“If there are two guys with me I know Dirk’s going to be open,” Barea said before straining his right groin in Friday’s game against Memphis. “But if I come off the pick-and-roll and I see his guy hugging him, I’ve got to be more aggressive.”
Barea’s aggressiveness has been a godsend for the Mavs. Over the past five games he’s averaged 24.2 points and seven assists while shooting 53.9 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. And he’s seen more than his share of open looks, thanks to the attention Nowitzki draws.
“Playing with Dirk makes it so much easier,” Barea said. “It’s fun, and we enjoy it. I enjoy it the most, and it makes my life a lot easier.”
No pity party
The Memphis Grizzlies have played 28 players during the season. That’s an NBA record, but don’t think Felton is about to throw the Grizzlies a pity party.
“I don’t feel sorry for them,” the Mavs guard said. “I feel sorry for those guys who are out for the injuries. That’s always unfortunate, but we’ve got guys who are out for injuries too. I just feel sorry those guys are injured.”
The Mavericks are without forwards Chandler Parsons (knee surgery) and Jeremy Evans (shoulder surgery) for the rest of this season. Guard Deron Williams is out indefinitely with a sports hernia, and Barea left Friday’s game against Memphis for good with 4:49 remaining in the second quarter with a strained right groin.
Among the injured players who are out for the remainder of the season for the Grizzlies are center Marc Gasol (foot) and point guard Mike Conley (Achilles tendon).
Williams on mend
It’s been over two weeks since Williams played in a game, and the Mavericks still don’t know when their starting point guard will play again.
Williams has missed the past eight games with a sports hernia. The last game the 11-year veteran played in was the Mavs’ 109-103 loss at Portland on March 23.
“Nothing’s changed in terms of a lack of a timetable,” Carlisle said. “And going forward, he’s doing a few things. He’s getting a lot of treatment, doing a lot of whatever strength work he can do.”