If Dallas Hits The Boards, It Won’t Have To Hit The Panic Button

By: 12.30.11  •  6 Comments
Lamar Odom

Lamar Odom (photo. Jeff Forney)

The Dallas Mavericks haven’t won an NBA game in over six months. A crazy thought, but then again their last win on June 12 won them a championship. Mark Cuban isn’t worried about the Mavs’ 0-3 start this year, but should Dallas fans trust in the owner’s confidence?

“I’m thinking this happens in the third preseason game; it’s just part of the process,” Cuban told The Dallas Morning News after a brutal loss to the Heat on Christmas Day. “It’s going to be a different season, and we just have keep working to get better every game. It was the first game we had everyone on the floor, and really, we just looked at it as a practice more than anything else.”

Problem is since then, the Mavericks have lost two more by equally dispiriting measures: another blowout and a buzzer-beater to Kevin Durant.

So the media asked Cuban again on Thursday: giving up yet?

“That’s absolutely ridiculous,” Cuban said when asked if this season has taken a spot on his backburner. “If that were the case, why would I take on Lamar [Odom]‘s salary? No possible way.”

Cuban isn’t crazy for watching with rose-colored glasses. Many point to the loss of Tyson Chandler as a reason why they were outrebounded by 10 boards in the first two games. Those two losses were so lopsided that Dirk Nowitzki barely stepped off the bench in the fourth quarter, and both the Heat and Nuggets dropped 97 points by the end of the third.

What’s a reason for hope, then?

Dallas has turned itself around with patchwork, less-than-dominating front lines before. In 2006-07, after a 1-4 start, the Mavs finished their first 10 games 6-4, outrebounding teams by five boards a game with a front line of D.J. Mbenga, Kevin Willis, DeSagana Diop and Erick Dampier.

The Mavs started 2008-09 at 1-3 and were outrebounded by an average of 8.6 boards per game en route to a 3-7 start. They recovered to finish 50-32 (that team finished with barely a rebound more per game than its opponents). Diop, Dampier, Ryan Hollins, Antoine Wright and Brandon Bass carried the Mavs’ frontcourt load that year.

Though Chandler’s absence as a last-line stopper shouldn’t be devalued, the Mavericks’ start seems to have more to do with general confusion with new players, a shortened training camp and the aging core of Dallas’ engine. Chandler was certainly a missing link for a title, but Dallas has played very well before without a big-time big man in the middle. So while Dallas can still score, Odom, Brendan Haywood and Brandan Wright will have to play much better.

Against the Thunder on Thursday, both teams grabbed 38 rebounds and for once, Dallas stayed close.

Below is a full breakdown, since Nowitzki arrived, of the team’s splits through five and 10 games:

98-99: 1,4 1-9
99-00: 2-4, 4-6
00-01: 3-2, 5-5
01-02: 4-1, 6-4
02-03: 5-0, 10-0
03-04: 3-2, 6-4
04-05: 4-1, 8-2
05-06: 3-2, 8-2
06-07: 1-4, 6-4
07-08: 4-1, 8-2
08-09: 2-3, 3-7
09-10: 3-2, 7-3
10-11: 3-2, 7-3
11-12: 0-3, ?

How do you think the Mavs will fare this year?

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