At 30, Keith Bogans inflates the average age of the Chicago Bulls' starting lineup to a ripe, old 25.4. The Bulls' old man would fit right in with the Dallas Mavericks, whose starting lineup averages 31.2 years. And if you substitute fill-in starter DeShawn Stevenson, 29, for Jason Terry, 33, it would skew even older.
Sometimes a veteran team can tend to relax, let its guard down and, as 37-year-old point guard Jason Kidd noted after the loss at New Orleans Wednesday night, when that happens, so can a loss (also see Memphis at Dallas, Oct. 29).
So, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle is leary of a bouncing Bulls team with four starters 25 or younger and whose low-mileage motors rarely stop.
"We’re going to see 48 minutes of what we saw in the third quarter in New Orleans the other night," said Carlisle, referencing the Hornets' 33-17 edge in the third quarter of their 99-97 victory. "We’re going to have to be disciplined. We’re going to have to understand how these guys approach the game and be able to play our game at a high level against an opponent that is really going to have a persistent physical presence at both ends the entire night."
The Bulls are 6-4 and are hardly invincible, but with Derrick Rose, 22, leading the charge in his third season, they put out consistent effort, if not always consistent results. On Wednesday, the Bulls had their own third-quarter meltdown, 37-12 at San Antonio to lose a 10-point halftime lead and eventually the game.
What worries Carlisle, however, is the Mavs' penchant for lulls, especially on their home floor. With numerous chances to blow out the Philadelphia 76ers a week ago, eight- and nine-point leads continally got whittled down and then built back up and then whittled down again.
"To me they have the highest motor of any team in the league," Carlisle said of the Bulls. "Their energy level stays up both offensively and defensively, so that makes them extremely difficult to guard and also makes them hard to score against because they have a persistence about their game. So, we have to be extremely aggressive and yet we've got to have the right amount of poise as well."
Youth vs. Experience
A look at the age difference between the top six players on the Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks.
Derrick Rose, 22
Luol Deng, 25
Joakim Noah, 25
Taj Gibson, 25
Keith Bogans, 30
Kyle Korver, 29
Tyson Chandler, 28
DeShawn Stevenson, 29
Caron Butler, 30
Dirk Nowitzki, 32
Jason Kidd, 37
Jason Terry, 33