The Dallas Mavericks raised their 2011 NBA Championship banner to the rafters of the American Airlines Center on Sunday, just before they began the regular season by hosting their opponents in last June’s NBA Finals the Miami Heat. Much to the Mavericks chagrin the campaign has started far differently than the team hoped it would; getting blown out of each of the two games they have played in so far. Dallas would lose the opener to the Heat by a final margin of 115-94 and then on Monday night they were pummeled by the Denver Nuggets, this time 115-93.
The club lost three critical pieces during the off-season as they allowed center Tyson Chandler and guards Caron Butler and Jose Juan Barea to walk away as Free Agents (although Dallas did work out a sign and trade deal at the last minutes with the New York Knicks for Chandler.) The Mavericks replaced them with forward Lamar Odom and guards Vince Carter and Delonte West; which has disrupted the chemistry that the team had last season. Whether this new edition can meld together through familiarity remains to be seen, however so far it has cost them two contests in a shorter than normal regular season.
The “Dallas Morning News” spoke with some members of the club after the loss in Denver on Monday night. Veteran forward Shawn Marion told the paper that the club is still a work in progress. The forward said “We’re not comfortable with each other on both ends of the floor. We’re trying to get acclimated and you can tell it’s not flowing the way it should be and there’s going to be some bumps.”
Dallas tried changing their starting lineup in the second game; inserting West in place of the starter at shooting guard in the season opener Vince Carter, however the results were no better than in game one. Not being up to the challenge of even being competitive with their opponents so far has really started to bother All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki. The team leader told reporters “We look old and slow and out of shape; a bad combination. I still think this team has a lot of potential. But we have to turn the corner.”
The Mavericks are off until Thursday when they travel to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder. Friday night they will play host to the Toronto Raptors.