After starting the season with two huge blowout losses at home to the Miami Heat and the Denver Nuggets, Dirk Nowitzki stated that the Mavericks looked old, slow and out of shape. Needless to say, these are pretty strong words coming from the team captain. The Mavericks were looking to turn their fortunes around against the Oklahoma City Thunder last night in a rematch last year’s Western Conference Finals.
Despite the Mavericks jumping out to a big lead early, the two teams would play a pretty tight game the rest of the way. With the Mavs trailing 101-99, Vince Carter hit a big three-pointer, giving Dallas a 102-101 lead with less than four seconds left to play. However, this would prove to be more than enough time for OKC as Kevin Durant would answer with a three-pointer of his own as the buzzer sounded, giving the Thunder a 104-102 win and a 4-0 start to the season.
So what exactly is going on with the defending-champion Mavericks? Well first of all, they lost a significant number of key players during the off-season. The most notable being Tyson Chandler and Jose Barea. While Chandler was not a proficient scorer, he provided the Mavericks with an inside presence on the defensive end and they are definitely lacking that this season. Lamar Odom and Vince Carter were nice acquisitions, but they don’t give the Mavericks the defensive intensity they need.
Although J.J. Barea was one of the smallest players in the Mavericks’ line-up last season, he provided various match-up problems for the opposing teams. With the ability to attack the rim and hit the perimeter shot, the Mavericks lost a lot of talent when they opted to let him sign somewhere else. Even in an 66 game season, an 0-3 start is not exactly the end of the world. However, if the Mavericks don’t find a way to adjust to the new faces on the roster, it could result in a short reign as champions for Mark Cuban and company.