DALLAS – Coach Rick Carlisle, who often classifies his starting lineup as top-secret information, saw no reason to be tight-lipped about Dirk Nowitzki’s replacement.
Shawn Marion will start at power forward against the Raptors.
That, of course, is far from stunning. Marion has played the bulk of the power forward minutes during Dirk’s rare rests this season. Marion excelled in the role during Monday night’s win over the Thunder, scoring a season-high-tying 20 points on 10-of-15 shooting and grabbing nine rebounds.
Marion, who played primarily power forward during his four All-Star seasons with the Suns, believes it’s easier for him to get in the flow of the Mavs’ offense as a 4. Carlisle didn’t disagree with that.
“I think it’s a more natural position for him,” Carlisle said. “His quickness becomes more of a factor.”
Carlisle has several options at power forward when Marion needs a breather. Brian Cardinal is available after an illness forced him to return to the Mavs’ hotel in Oklahoma City. Alexis Ajinca, the skinny 7-footer who knocked down a key 3 against the Thunder, could get more minutes. Ian Mahinmi might also be in the mix, although Ajinca has had more practice time as a power forward. And Carlisle could sweet-shooting Steve Novak if he needs a 4 who can stretch the floor.
The Mavs won't have to worry about defending Toronto power forward/center Andrea Bargnani. The Raptors' leading scorer is out with a strained calf.