ORLANDO, Fla. -- It has been seven weeks -- 46 days, if you’re counting -- since Rick Carlisle had a full complement of players.
Now, he does.
Delonte West re-joined the team Thursday night against Miami after missing five weeks with a broken finger, and Brendan Haywood is expected to play Friday night against Orlando after missing seven games with a sprained knee.
Ordinarily that would be great -- and it is a positive. The problem, of course, is working all of the returning players back into a rotation without screwing up the Mavericks' chemistry.
For a team that’s 8-10 since the All-Star break and still isn’t anywhere close to securing a playoff spot with 14 games remaining in the regular season, maybe it won’t be that difficult.
“We gotta move forward and try to get everyone involved and still keep a rhythm doing the things well that we’ve been doing well,” Carlisle said. “We gotta look at everything.
“We have been together long enough now to have a pretty good feel for everyone and everyone has a pretty good feel for what’s asked of them and what we need from them. Going forward it’s going to be based on matchup, opponent, and how guys are playing. We’re going to ask our guys to play their minutes hard and play together, and we’ll figure out the rotation.”
The Mavs can certainly use Howard’s 7-foot, 263-pound frame to contain Dwight Howard, the league’s best center. Haywood has missed 11 of the past 13 games.
“We missed our big, strong guy,” Carlisle said. “Against the guys like (Andrew) Bynum, Howard and (Marc) Gasol, there’s no substitute to having a 7-footer that’s big and strong like Brendan. We need him.
“He’s been out awhile and he’s been working, but he’s probably going to get tired pretty quick and I’m going to have to pull him and try to get him back in the game.”