Dallas Mavericks

Mavericks must sharpen home edge as Bulls come calling

The Mavs’ Monta Ellis drives on the Grizzlies’ Tony Allen on Monday. Coach Rick Carlisle expects a very physical game against the Chicago Bulls  like the one in Memphis.
The Mavs’ Monta Ellis drives on the Grizzlies’ Tony Allen on Monday. Coach Rick Carlisle expects a very physical game against the Chicago Bulls like the one in Memphis. AP

The Dallas Mavericks have been in beast-mode when it comes to playing on the road this season.

But at home? Not so much.

While the Mavs have won 70 percent of their home games and 69.6 percent of their road games, they know that gap should be greater for any team with championship aspirations. And make no mistake about it, the Mavs have championship aspirations.

“We’ve played great so far on the road,’’ center Tyson Chandler said. “We’ve got to continue to do that.

“We’ve got to also start protecting our home.’’

The Mavs (30-13) hope that protection starts at 7 p.m. Friday at American Airlines Center when they host the Chicago Bulls (28-16).

With 18 games remaining on the road, the Mavs are an impressive 16-7 in games played away from AAC. The only team with more road wins is the Atlanta Hawks with 17.

On the flip side, the Mavs are a disappointing 14-6 at home. To put that in perspective, nine teams have more home wins than the Mavs, including the world champion San Antonio Spurs, currently 15-6 at home and seeded seventh in the Western Conference.

So why is a cagey veteran team like the Mavs disappointing at home but excelling on the road?

“I think it probably, a little bit, has to do with our experience,’’ forward Chandler Parsons said. “We’ve got a veteran team, no crowd is going to get into our head or make us play out of character.

“I don’t understand how we don’t play better at home. We have a great crowd and we need to start protecting our home court, because the object is to get home-court advantage.’’

For sure, teams go all-out all season trying to collect one of the top four playoff seeds in their conference so they can have home-court advantage. But thus far, for whatever reasons, the home court has been a disadvantage for the Mavs.

Coach Rick Carlisle, however, doesn’t spend his idle time worrying about his club’s lack of success on its home floor.

“We’ve got to grind on Chicago and get ready for that one,’’ Carlisle said. “The world we’re living in here in the West, this is advanced citizenship.

“You’ve got to want it bad to win games every night, and that’s where we’re at. And we’ve got to have a laserlike focus on that.’’

Another wild game?

In one of the highest scoring and most entertaining games of the season, the Mavs went into Chicago and defeated the Bulls 132-129 in double overtime on Dec. 2.

The Mavs are expecting more of the same Friday, although they say the Bulls will pose a more aggressive challenge.

“We know it’s going to be another grind-out game,’’ center Tyson Chandler said. “They’re a difficult team that has a style of basketball that you’re not used to.

“We’ve got to make them play our style, though, coming into our building. We’ve got to be the aggressors from start to finish.’’

The physical style the Bulls bring to the table reminds Carlisle of the Memphis Grizzlies, whom the Mavs just beat 103-95 on Monday on the road.

“We’re looking at a game almost exactly like Memphis with Chicago coming in,’’ Carlisle said. “A very physical team, a very hungry team, too, because they’ve been beat up with injuries.

“So we’re going to have to be ready for them.’’

Briefly:

▪ Carlisle will be trying to become the 24th coach in NBA history with at least 600 career wins Friday. Carlisle is 599-412 all time for a winning percentage of 59.2 percent.

▪ The Mavs are 11-4 in games Rajon Rondo has played in.

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @dwainprice

Here are the losses the Mavs have had at home this season.

Date............Opp..................Score

Nov. 9........Miami................105-96

Nov. 24......Indiana..............111-100

Dec. 5.........Phoenix...........118-106

Dec. 13......Golden State....105-98

Dec. 22......Atlanta..............105-102

Jan. 7........Detroit...............108-95

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