Friday, December 30, 2011
W2W4: Dwane Casey returns with Raptors
By Jeff Caplan
No time to dwell and that's probably a good thing coming off Thursday night's buzzer beater by Kevin Durant that sent the Dallas Mavericks to an 0-3 start.
Quickly, it's back home to face the rested Toronto Raptors, a team that will be well-prepared under the leadership of former Mavs assistant Dwane Casey. Dallas will drag whatever momentum it can from its improved play in OKC as it looks to avoid its first 0-4 start in five seasons.
"We're making progress for sure, but we have a ways to," coach Rick Carlisle said. "Right now, the breaks are going against us and we've got to personalize this and we've got to break through, and it's work, it's work."
The prime work is on the defensive end. Wednesday's practice almost solely focused on that end and the Thunder still shot better than 58 percent. The Mavs were a top 10 defense in field-goal percentage throughout last season. Through three games of this season, Dallas ranks dead last in the NBA (51.8 percent) and it is the only team in the league to allow better than 50 percent shooting.
Somewhat appropriate then that Casey, the defensive-minded assistant who called sets for the Mavs, is in the house. And interesting that the Raptors, through two games, rank second offensively in field-goal shooting (49.4 percent). Defensively, Casey's Raptors have held their two opponents under .420 field-goal shooting. The Mavs are shooting an abysmal 40.7 percent.
Records: Raptors (1-1); Mavs (0-3)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Center
Radio: 103.3 FM ESPN; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Rick Carlisle is desperately trying to light a fire under the struggling Lamar Odom. The versatile forward is just 4-of-27 from the floor in the first three games and seems completely out of rhythm. Carlisle put the onus on himself to expedite Odom's adjustment from the triangle offense he ran for years with the Los Angeles Lakers to the Mavs' flow offense that finally showed some sparks Thursday night. Odom played just 17 minutes off the bench at OKC. Look for a continued effort to get Odom off the ground.
Key matchup:Delonte West/Vince Carter/Jason Kidd/Jason Terry vs. DeMar DeRozan Defensive struggles against young, athletic wings is no secret. The third-year shooting guard out of USC is picking up where he left off last season. In two games, he's averaging 18.5 points and shooting 55.2 percent from the field. He doesn't take many 3-pointers, but he will step back and let it rip -- he's made two of the three he's taken. Everybody knows this kid has serious hops and he's growing an all-around game to go with it and that makes him an extremely dangerous cover for a Mavs team coming off an emotionally draining camp in Oklahoma City and one in which required heavy workloads for the first time.