Last Night, The Mavericks Shined Offensively And Showed Promise Elsewhere, Too.
Following the Dallas Mavericks' one-point loss to the defending champion San Antonio Spurs during the season-opener on Tuesday night, the team received some high praise from Charles Barkley.
“I think the Dallas Mavericks might be the best team in the Western Conference,” the Hall of Famer and TNT analyst said.
And during last night's home-opening 120-102 win against the Utah Jazz, the Mavericks showed that Barkley could be right after all. At the games start, the offense scored at will with lobs inside to Tyson Chandler — an offensive ploy that in turn opened up the floor so much that seven different Mavericks would go on to score in double digits on this night, with its three-headed offensive monster of Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Chandler Parsons combining for 56 points.
But as great as the offense looked — and it did look terrific — this win was a complete effort from the Mavericks, who also flashed some defensive prowess as well as the depth of the bench roster.
“This roster has so many guys that can contribute,” head coach Rick Carlisle said after the game, echoing sentiments he'd shared prior to the season's start. “It’s uncertain as to exactly when everybody’s gonna play,”
Last night, for instance, it was newly-acquired forward Al-Farouq Aminu’s time to shine.
Though Aminu's signing definitely went under the radar considering the higher-profile moves the team made this past off-season (see: Parsons, Tyson Chandler, Jameer Nelson, Richard Jefferson and even the just-signed J.J. Barea), but the team has high expectations for Aminu's defensive and rebounding contributions. And Aminu certainly did it all over the course of just 19 minutes of play in last night's game, registering a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“He came in with good energy,” Carlisle said of Aminu's efforts. “I decided to go with him first because we needed rebounding.”
Already this season, Aminu is averaging 23 rebounds per 48 minutes played — or good enough for sixth in the league of players averaging at least 10 minutes per game in this short season. But Aminu's contributions on this night at each of the forward positions also provided the team with an answer to another need: With Aminu playing well and the game we in hand, Nowitzki only played 23 minutes last night.
Another player registering important minutes in the home opener was fan favorite J.J. Barea, who, despite having been on this roster for just a single day, played 18 minutes against the Jazz. Barea scored four points and notched three assists during his time on the court, but more important was the impact he had on the home American Airlines Center crowd, which went wild each time he entered the game. The same could be said for Tyson Chandler, who got the crowd pumped after a few fist pumps and roars directed at the fans.
Granted, the 2014-2015 season is still very young, but, already, this Mavs team has put itself in a position to potentially prove Barkley right. At the very least, the offense does seem legit, and the bench deep deep.
Next up for the team? Proving that it can get consistent performance on the other end of the court.
“Our main focus this year is defense,” the ever-defensive-minded Chandler said after the game. “That's one thing we have to pride ourselves on.”