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Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Believe it or not, Mavs' D better than last year

By Tim MacMahon

After watching the defending NBA champions stumble out of the blocks, it’s easy to say this team has gone back to being the same ol’ soft Mavericks.

Even if it isn’t true.

“They really miss Tyson Chandler and DeShawn Stevenson,” Charles Barkley said during a Tuesday appearance on ESPN 103.3’s Galloway and Company. “They were the two best defenders and brought the toughness, and I don't see how they'll replace those two guys. And I think they would have repeated if they kept those guys, but now I don't think they have any chance of winning the West.”

We’ll find out whether the Mavs have a chance to win the West, but the defensive presence that left Dallas in free agency hasn’t been this team’s problem.

The defense was no doubt dreadful during the Mavs’ 0-3 start, especially in the back-to-back blowouts by the Heat and Nuggets. But the Mavs haven’t allowed an opponent to crack triple digits in the last seven games.

The Mavs had a longer streak of holding foes under 100 points only twice last season – once during the regular season, once during the playoffs.

The Mavs have actually been more efficient defensively so far this season than they were a year ago. They’re allowing 101.8 points per 100 possessions, down from 105.0 last season.

Granted, scoring is down across the league, but the Mavs’ biggest problem has been putting the ball in the basket. Their offensive efficiency has dropped from 109.7 last season to 100.7 through 10 games.

Maybe the Mavs will miss the toughness of Chandler and Stevenson. They’ve missed their shooting touch more so far, though.