Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Mavericks [Print without images]

Monday, January 18, 2010
The Come Up: Cold getting colder out East

By Jeff "Skin" Wade

Monday means The Come Up, and Dallas is currently reeling in the East. It’s confusing because those aren’t the actual Steely Dan lyrics; it just sounds like they're singing that. But Dallas really is reeling right now and on an East Coast road trip. See how problematic this is? Hard to make sense of it really. But we’ll all try, starting with Boston. And it go a ‘lil summin’ like this:

MLK Day matchup of two struggling division leaders

The Celts are a healthy 27-11, but it’s somewhat deceiving. They are 8-1 against the tepid competition in the Atlantic Division and have struggled in their last 10 games, winning only four and losing their last two home games to Chicago and Atlanta.

Injuries are the primary culprit. Kevin Garnett has missed time recently with a hyper-extended knee but isn’t expected back until Friday. Rasheed Wallace has missed the last three games with a foot sprain, but is expected back for tonight’s tip. Paul Pierce banged his previously hurt knee in practice yesterday. Doc Rivers must be praying he’s OK. Brian Scalabrine has started the last three games. Seriously.

The Mavericks had some huge individual milestones in the last week as The Big German passed the 20,000 mark in points and Jason Kidd entered the top five in NBA history in three-pointers made. They’re both chasing Ray Allen.

Dirk enters Monday’s game 231 points behind Allen, who is also 804 3-pointers up on Kidd. Dirk will eventually catch Allen and leave him in the dust. If he stays healthy, Allen will pass Reggie Miller as the all-time downtown champ sometime late next season (he needs 198 more to pass Miller’s 2,560).

Did I mention that the Mavs were reeling? Out East?

And sometimes they play basketball, too

The Mavs play The Wiz on Wednesday night, but it’s hard to find any news on what’s been going on with these guys lately.

What are you supposed to write here? Even the most casual of hoops fan is completely aware of what a toxic situation exists in Washington right now. These dudes have won eight games since Dec. 1.

Gilbert Arenas’ legal situation is less murky than his future playing status, and he won’t get sentenced until March 26. That’s so inconsiderate considering the mid-February trade deadline.

Here’s hoping Arenas doesn’t have to spend any significant time behind bars (if any at all), and he and Washington can come to some sort of a sensible buyout that allows him to go somewhere else and start over while minimizing the utter devastation his contract has imposed on the Wiz’s roster flexibility.

Surely Washington will be big players at the trade deadline regardless of Arenas’ uncertain status. Their play can most kindly be described as “uninterested,” and they’re surrounded by worse vibes than a leasing office at one of Donald Sterling’s properties. They have plenty of expiring contracts and two very desirable players in Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison, even if Jamison’s contract is pretty dicey (about 28.5 million for the two seasons following this one).

So when you watch a Washington game it’s kind of like one big audition to “get off the island.” And these guys rolled the Mavs on opening night at AAC. Did I mention Brian Scalabrine started the last three games for the Celtics? I’m serious. About all this.

Basketball is a team game, kids

Remember what a ridiculous circus the whole Allen Iverson retirement charade was? I watch a lot of NBATV -- a definitive sign that I don’t have much going for me -- and everyday there was somebody else in AI’s circle on the league’s network carrying on about what a tragedy it was that Allen Iverson was forced into retirement.

John Thompson was indignant, Eric Snow was stoically displeased, Cheryl Miller was crying without tears and, of course, Rick Kamla was there through it all to assure everyone that he truly loved AI. Yet I couldn’t figure out who was behind this outlandish plot seeing as he was on a roster and active just weeks before this awful tragedy.

Thankfully, Philly had absolutely nothing going on and a disintegrating fan base so that they could provide safe harbor for a man, who despite being a completely unrestricted free agent just months earlier, couldn’t find a team with a role to suit his liking. Society owed Iverson a starting role and whatever minutes he desired and had Philly not stepped up and delivered, civilization might have completely unraveled. It didn’t matter that he had a role and a paycheck in Memphis -- that spot was a complete injustice and an affront to the spirit of the sport.

The 76ers are 6-8 in the 14 games that Iverson has played with them, which is way better than the 7-18 they’ve tallied without him (and all the other dudes who were hurt early in the season). Iverson was an amazing individual player who goes hard and is still very talented.

But if you remove the names of everyone involved and just look at the situation for what it is without bias, this whole scenario is about an aging player who has no interest in being part of a team unless that team wants to acquiesce to what it is he wants. And if a team does revolve around him, it will be, best-case scenario, mediocre and out of the playoff picture. What is there to like about that?

By the way, a Memphis team that everyone wrote off as a horrible mess is 19-10 since they waived Iverson. Not that it’s related. I just enjoy pointing out random asides.

I like Andre Iguodala. I like Thad Young -- reminds me of a heyday '80s scoring forward. I like Lou Williams’ name -- sounds like he’d be a heyday '80s scoring forward.

This is another bad team the Mavs struggled to barely beat at home earlier in the season. What age is too young to be a Steely Dan fan?