Granted, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ defense will never be confused with the Seattle Seahawks. But at least for one night the Dallas Mavericks located the blueprint for their success.
Any night that the Mavs win and Dirk Nowitzki can rest the final seven minutes is a good night. And there are three reasons it happened on Monday at American Airlines Center:
Samuel Dalembert. Devin Harris. Brandan Wright.
It’s no secret that Dirk needs help. Monta Ellis will at times carry the load. Jose Calderon will hit big 3-pointers and Shawn Marion’s contributions come from a variety of areas. But when Dalembert, Harris and Wright play like they did last night, it’s easy to see how the Mavs could win a round or two in the playoffs.
It wasn’t just the combined 48 points and 16 rebounds or the cumulative +29 point differential, it was the energy the trio brought.
Dalembert woke up on time, stayed out of foul trouble and produced his best game since December with 18 points and eight rebounds. Wright was active in the paint and Harris did what he does best, push the pace off the dribble and create easy baskets in transition and off Dallas’ early offense.
"(Dalembert)'s proven that he can take us to a higher level," coach Rick Carlisle told reporters after the game. "Down the stretch, he was a presence at both ends. We just have to keep reinforcing with him the things that we need him to do."
Again, the elite teams in the West won’t allow the Mavs to run ‘n gun for 124 points. But with active, energetic performances from its role players like last night, the Mavs have a chance to beat any team in the league.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.