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March 9, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan
  (2:59 PM)

Hello everyone. Welcome to another addition of Mavs chat.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:00 PM)

The win streak hit 12 last night at Minnesota and now the Mavs come home for four in a row starting with New Jersey. Let's get to the questions. There seems to be a lot of interest in playoff matchups. Here we go.

DJ (Houston)

With a healthy squad of Dirk, Haywood, Marion, Kidd, Caron along with Jet and Damp coming off the bench, are the Mavs the most complete team in the West? If not surely they present the most match-up problems.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:02 PM)

Healthy is the operative word there. Dampier should be coming back in a matter of days and it appears there's nothing seroiusly wrong with Haywood, so you might see him tomorrow against the Nets, and they'll need him with the big Lopez brother in town. You would think this team looks quite complete when healthy. I like its character makeup better than Denver and as deep as L.A. is I don't think they're as deep as last year. I still think the swap of Ariza for Artest wasn't so great.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:02 PM)

The Mavs still don't have a true shooting guard, but Caron Butler, a true small forward, is filling it nicely and Roddy Beaubois is exciting everyone.

John (Austin)

When Dampier comes back, who do you think will be the starting center? The younger, more athletic Haywood? or Dampier who we will be using as trade bait in the off-season (because of his contract) and who we happen to be paying more?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:04 PM)

Well, I could see Rick Carlisle inserting Dampier into the starting lineup, but giving Haywood starter's minutes, sort of the way Jason Terry comes off the bench but plays 30 minutes and is in during crunch time. But, the coaching staff might just decide to go with Haywood since it would seem he is the center of the future (as long as he re-signs this summer). To Damp's credit, he has already said he will come off the bench if that's what Carlisle asks.

Paul (Fort Worth )

How will this win streak help the Mavericks in the playoffs

Jeff Caplan
  (3:06 PM)

Good question. I was having this discussion with someone earlier today and it was basically decided that the streak means nothing in terms of how well the team will do in the playoffs. Remember the Rockets last season? They reeled off 22 in a row and didn't get them very far. And just go back to 2006-07 when the Mavs won 67 games and had three long streaks, including one of 17. How'd that work out in the playoffs. If you don't know ask Baron Davis.

Lucky Albright (Los Angeles)

Skip Bayless keeps saying on 1st and 10 that Dirk has never showed up in the playoffs before...I disagree. Just last year, he had a great series against Denver, but got little supporting help. In '06 he dropped fifty in game on (the Suns? Spurs?), of course made that winning layup drive to send Game 7 to overtime...I feel like he's had plenty of playoff success. He came up short against G.S., but again, that was with Nellie playing him and getting little supporting help.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:09 PM)

Skip Bayless gets paid to talk. Anyone who thinks Dirk doesn't show up in the playoffs is ridiculous. It's an old and tired argument. Look, would Dirk like to take some things back? Of course. Does he still go nuts thinking about the Miami series? Yes. But, all in all, he's the guy that got them to the Finals. You might remember the phenomenal series against the Spurs and then the Suns. And as you say, he was terrific last year. I do think this older, wiser Dirk is different mentally and physically. His game if anyone's noticed is based more around the basket than ever before. His 3-pointers are way, way down. And finally, after the trade, he has good scorers around him. He doesn't have to do it all and now swarming him with double and triple teams will come with much more risk.

Roger Creech (Hillsboro, Texas)

I think the Mavs have more of a killer instinct now than ever before. I don't see them being scared of any other team in a 7-game series. Who will give them the most fits in the playoffs?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:11 PM)

Did you see DeShawn Stevenson last night in Minneapolis get all fired up? The Mavs do have more pieces to be more physically imposing than ever before and that's a good thing. I really believe that teams like Denver felt they could push around the Mavs, and really that's been the case for some time. But, with Haywood, Butler and to a degree Stevenson (since his minutes are limited), there is less of a push-around factor. And to that extend, Jason Kidd has exerted himself in a way we haven't seen since the trade. When your point guard is leading the way, everyone follows.

Jeff (Parker)

Who do you think is the more favorable second round matchup for us? Denver or Utah?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:13 PM)

This is obvious: Utah. The matchups are better. The Jazz are far less physical inside. Mehmet Okur is a perimeter player and that leaves Carlos Boozer, but the Mavs have plenty of ammunition to attack him. The scariest part of the Jazz is Deron Williams. He is way too quick for Jason Kidd to guard so have to mix things up there. Plus Williams will be determined to get the Jazz back to the Western Conference Finals (hard to remember they were there in 2007). But, I still believe that Denver's athleticism, length, Carmelo and Chauncey is the tougher mathchup. That's why it is critical that the Mavs hold onto the No. 2 seed to get homecourt advantage in the second round.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:13 PM)

This is obvious: Utah. The matchups are better. The Jazz are far less physical inside. Mehmet Okur is a perimeter player and that leaves Carlos Boozer, but the Mavs have plenty of ammunition to attack him. The scariest part of the Jazz is Deron Williams. He is way too quick for Jason Kidd to guard so have to mix things up there. Plus Williams will be determined to get the Jazz back to the Western Conference Finals (hard to remember they were there in 2007). But, I still believe that Denver's athleticism, length, Carmelo and Chauncey is the tougher mathchup. That's why it is critical that the Mavs hold onto the No. 2 seed to get homecourt advantage in the second round.

Junior (Healy)

shawn Marion is much more effective offensively at the 4 position. He is much more engaged on the offensive end of the floor, and I have seem a lot more pop in his step of late. Your thoughts?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:16 PM)

He might be more effective at the 4, that's great, but what are you going to do with Dirk? There's only so many minutes in a game and Marion is getting some at the 4, especially lately with Dampier and Haywood both out, leaving you without a center. Marion and Kidd have been feeding off one another really well lately. I'm really pleased with Marion. I wasn't sure what he was going to be like, but he's been a mature veteran, who sacrifices scoring for the benefit of the team. He's really been invaluable, especially as a defender through the times when Josh Howard was out and/or ineffective. Give Marion credit for adapting his game to the team's needs.

md (Dallas. TX)

People seem to hold the Mavs' point differential against them, unless you are only discussing the post trade differential, however, it seems irrelevant. This is a completely different team, from skill sets, to size, to chemistry, to attitude since the trade. Yet, only 13 games have been played with the current roster and using season point differential clearly puts more emphasis on stats tallied by a different team. Given that, what's your opinion on Point Differential being used to judge a team after they've made such a big move?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:18 PM)

I understand the point-differential arguement. I mean, if you're point-differential is 2.2, which is what the Mavs' was before the trade, that means you're winning a lot of close games. Is that a bad thing? Well, it depends. Are you playing down to the level of competition and pulling out games you should win late? The Mavs were guilt of that. They were doing a great of winning games by five or less points, but should they have been in that predicament in the first place? So, the higher the point-differential, the suggestion is the more you are controlling games. The Mavs are starting to do that, especially with the weak opponents they are facing. They weren't always doing that.

Jake (Voskuhl)

Will the Mavericks give in and sign a big man already! I am ready to contribute! Tell Donnie Nelson to hit me up!

Jeff Caplan
  (3:20 PM)

Jake, thanks for joining the conversations. I heard Denver was giving you a workout. You can forget Dallas, that ship has sailed. The Mavs don't believe they need anothe big at this point because Dampier is close to returning (and really they weren't expecting Haywood to miss games). With the competition they've faced, they haven't really missed the center position. they're giving up a lot of points, but they're scoring a lot, too, playing more of a fastbreaking style with the smaller lineup. So no, forget the big man coming in. Plus, anyone the Mavs sign to a 10-day contract, they have to pay double because they're over the luxury tax.

Kyle (Austin)

Can this team, with the oldest starting line-up and health issues, continue to maintain its momentum and make a deep playoff run?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:22 PM)

With its current health issues, no. It'll be interesting to see the extent of J.J. Barea's ankle situation. They need him as a backup. The center position should be fine, both guys appear headed back soon, so all should be right by the playoffs. But, they do need to be healthy. Check out Denver, K-Mart is hurt again, that's a big blow, so we'll see how long he'll be out as well.

Toine (Dallas)

Thanks Jeff! What happens this offseason if we don't get one of the big name free agents (Lebron, Wade, Joe Johnson, Bosh). What do we do with Damp's contract? Do we try to go after lesser players (Boozer, Rudy Gay, Ray Allen) or do we do nothing?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:25 PM)

I am of the faction that believes the superstar names will remain with their teams, although I do waver a bit with Dwyane Wade because that team is not really improving, but we'll see. Dampier's contract is great chip so yes, they can try to deal to get one of the next-level guys. What if the Spurs don't lock up Ginobili and let him test free agency. He's getting up there in age, but have you seen what he's done lately? That'd be interesting to see him in a Dallas uniform. Not sure I put Joe Johnson up there with Wade, LeBron, Bosh, but he can light it up and brings decent size.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:25 PM)

I am of the faction that believes the superstar names will remain with their teams, although I do waver a bit with Dwyane Wade because that team is not really improving, but we'll see. Dampier's contract is great chip so yes, they can try to deal to get one of the next-level guys. What if the Spurs don't lock up Ginobili and let him test free agency. He's getting up there in age, but have you seen what he's done lately? That'd be interesting to see him in a Dallas uniform. Not sure I put Joe Johnson up there with Wade, LeBron, Bosh, but he can light it up and brings decent size.

Grant (Plano)

How long do you think the streak will last?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:26 PM)

I think it lasts at least through Saturday. I don't see the Nets coming here and winning unless D-Harris goes off for 60, and I don't think the Knicks can win either. The Mavs, I think, have fixed their low-energy ways at home and will be fired up to keep the streak alive. Boston is the toughest competition coming up, but even they seem to be fading. It will be interesting, could it last all the way until Denver comes to town later this month?

Ryan (Kahn)

It appears Caron Butler isn't missing the straws too much, as evidenced by his play of late. He is looking more and more comfortable every game he plays.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:29 PM)

I agree. he can still chomp on the straws on the bench, so maybe that helps. But, yes, he's looking very comfy, going for what, 24 last night? He brings a mid-range game that the Mavs didn't have and he'll take it to the rack. the most frustrating part of Josh Howard's game was that he way too often settled for jumpers. Then we'd see him go strong to the basket and ask why he didn't do that more often. So, yes, Butler gives them a mid-range jumper, strength and the ability to get to the rim and free throw line.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:29 PM)

OK, time for one more quickie....

Tyler A. (Fort worth)

Right now if the mavs and lakers were to play a 7 game series, who would win the series and why?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:31 PM)

Ah, yes, predict if the Mavs can beat the Lakers. The matchups are much better now for the Mavs, but if the Lakers are playing on all cylinders, I don't see any team, outside of Cleveland because of the LeBron factor that can take them down. Lamar Odom is a fourth option. That's crazy. But, hey, if they don't pull it together here soon, you never know. they're not a great road team and there appears to be some friction not to mention Artest's sudden desire to be Rodman. Stay tuned.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:31 PM)

Thanks for playing everyone. See you back here next week.