The first contest will be between the Mavericks and the Lakers. Both teams are riding tides of success over the past few seasons. The interesting matchup will not be one of skill (though it will prove to be interesting as well), but will be Dallas’ Lamar Odom playing against his former team.
Odom has continued to express disappointment in leaving the Lakers, and though his Dallas teammates have given him some space to make adjustments, the local fan base is not completely convinced yet that Odom wants to be a Maverick. However, his effort and his output are coming along much better in the past week, and one would have to think he is looking forward to seeing his friend Kobe Bryant and all his former Lakers teammates. Dallas fans just hope he won’t accidentally throw the ball to Kobe for a 22-foot jumper out of habit. The game is on tomorrow, January 16, and it can be seen on TNT at 10:30 pm EST.
After the Lakers, Dallas will be playing the L.A. Clippers, newly revived with their acquisition of point guard Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets. The perennial whipping post of the NBA’s Western Conference, the Clippers have posted a 6-3 record to start the season. Paul is making a difference, and the Mavs will have their hands full in containing him. The game is on Wednesday, January 18, and it can be seen nationally on ESPN at 10:30 pm EST.
On Thursday, Dallas travels to Utah to play the Jazz. They will face former teammates from the 2006 NBA Finals team, Devin Harris and Josh Howard, as well as Jazz center, "Big Al" Jefferson (formerly of the Celtics and Timberwolves).
Down the Road
The Mavericks are still making a lot of adjustments to their lineup. With Jason Kidd playing again (after recuperating from soreness in his back), the starting lineup is Jason Kidd, Delonte West, Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, and Brendan Haywood. As of late, however, the full second team has been getting more playing time as coach Rick Carlisle is concentrating heavily on what he calls “energy conservation” during this crammed schedule.
The Mavericks, having completed four victories in five days, became only the 12th team since the 2008-09 season to do so. According to dallasbasketball.com, who gives excellent year-round coverage of the Mavericks, there have been 271 tries at this feat. Given that two were road games, one of which was against the Boston Celtics, it is apparent now that the Mavericks are strong contenders again for a playoff run.