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March 16, 3:30 PM ET
Chat with Tim MacMahon

Tim MacMahon
  (3:32 PM)

Welcome to this week's Mavs chat. I'm actually up in Denton, Texas, as the North Texas Mean Green prepare for March Madness. But we'll squeeze in some Mavs talk during practice.

Adam (Los Angeles)

Does this team have an identity?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:35 PM)

I think this team's identity is that it's a veteran group that knows how to win close games. Stat geeks might call that tendency luck, but the Mavs have been consistent in that regard since Rick Carlisle handed Jason Kidd the reigns. As far as a consistent rotation, it's getting closer to that. The top seven is set, and as I wrote on the blog this morning, the Mavs ought to commit to having a true big man on the court except in rare situations when smallball makes sense. I see Roddy Beaubois carving out a niche in the rotation, but I thought that was the case before the All-Star break, too.

Michael (Ft. worth)

Greeings.... Do you think the Mavs will make it to the western conference finals??

Tim MacMahon
  (3:38 PM)

I think they've got to get the second seed to make that happen. The Mavs have the best road record in the West (22-12), but they don't want to let Denver have homecourt advantage in the second round. The Nuggets are too good at home, where they're 28-5 this season. But the Mavs match up much, much better with Denver than they did last season. Shawn Marion, Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson give them three guys who they can throw at Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith. They'll need Brendan Haywood to outplay Nene to win that series.

Jason (Midlothain,Tx)

Now that the Mavs had made this trade; which it seems that it's working out. Do you think the Mavs will be players in the FA in the off season?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:42 PM)

The Mavs will absolutely swing for the fences this summer, meaning they'll do everything in their power to land LeBron. It'd have to be a sign-and-trade in which LeBron forces the Cavs' hand, but the Mavs can offer Erick Dampier's instant expiring contract, Caron Butler (last year of his deal next season) and Roddy Beaubois for LeBron and anything else the Cavs want to send this way. Is it likely to happen? Nope, but the Mavs will make a run at it. The flexibility of Dampier's contract gives the Mavs a chance to land one of the other big-name free agents, but I don't think the Mavs would be willing to give up Beaubois or Butler (in that order) for many other guys. By the way, remember Mark Cuban floating the idea of playing the occasional game at JerryWorld? It's no coincidence that LeBron is a huge Cowboys fan.

Mike (Dallas)

What do you attribute to the Mavs constant slow starts in games?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:44 PM)

You've got to look at age first. Their whole starting lineup is 30-plus with Caron Butler celebrating his birthday Saturday. (Actually, celebrate probably isn't the right word after that whipping the Knicks handed the Mavs. No whispers about Butler handing out birthday party flyers afterward.) Dirk and Shawn Marion both mentioned that it takes them a few minutes to get loose. But they've got to figure out a solution. They can't just keep handing teams double-digit leads, especially once the playoffs start.

keith (Arlington)

why do we still have matt carroll?????

Tim MacMahon
  (3:45 PM)

His contract is guaranteed, and it's not like other teams are asking for him in trades.

Derrik (Dallas, Texas)

Is Tim Thomas ever going to play for us again? When will he be back? He could be used.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:46 PM)

Unfortunately, it's doubtful that Thomas will return to Dallas. His wife is very ill, and his sole focus is on his family for the foreseeable future. The Mavs completely understand.

Adam (Los Angeles)

When the Mavs chose to go small against NY, I was a little confused. As you pointed out, how can we let the Knicks dictate matchups? That reminds a little bit of a few years ago when Avery came out in Game 1 against GS and went small...needless to say, he later regretted it.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:47 PM)

Good comparison with the Golden State series. A team on a 13-game winning streak playing at home should dictate the matchups against a lottery team, but the Mavs were sleepwalking early and had to play catch-up the rest of the night.

Deven (Carrollton)

Why is Eric Dampier still on this team?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:49 PM)

Erick Dampier is far from a problem. He's a solid defensive/rebounding big man who does a lot of offensive dirty work, primarily setting screens. Is he overpaid? Absolutely. But he has value. With his contract not guaranteed next season, he'll hit the open mark this summer. Don't be surprised if he ends up back in Dallas, although at a drastically reduced price. He's widely respected in the Mavs' front office and locker room.

Derek (Columbia, MO)

Tim, to be honest with you, this is the best the Mavericks have looked, (for the exception of that debacle against the Knicks) since they went to the Finals, then had the best record in the NBA the following season. We've seen this team is in the very least able to contend with the Lakers, Nuggets and anyone else the West has to offer. Be openly honest, how good are their chances in the playoffs and how would they fair in a 7 game series with LA and Denver?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:51 PM)

A month ago, I'd say there's no way the Mavs could beat LA barring some serious Lakers injury issues. Not so much now with the Lakers limping. LA is still the favorite, but the Lakers are no longer a lock. Like I said earlier, the Mavs match up much better with the Nuggets than a year ago. That series could come down to homecourt advantage. If you made me bet my mortgage payment, I wouldn't take the Mavs in a series over either team, but I certainly wouldn't rule them out, either.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Which College Basketball player that is currently playing in College would be a perfect fit for the Dallas Mavericks?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:54 PM)

North Texas power forward George Odufuwa, but I'm pretty sure he'll return for his senior season. Seriously, I'm far from a draft guru. I know Kentucky's John Wall and Ohio State's Evan Turner will go 1-2, but I don't bone up on the draft until after the Mavs' playoff run ends. And since they don't have a first-round pick this season, I won't pay the draft too much attention this year at all.

Mike (Dallas)

Would Rick Carlisle ever consider changing the starting lineup to better facilitate a better start? Maybe starting Roddy at the 2 ,sliding Butler to the 3 and then have Marion and Terry coming off the bench?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:55 PM)

That's an interesting scenario, and it'd be a great idea on a video game. I can't see it happening in real life, though. Marion has already sacrificed a lot this season, particularly regarding his offensive role. I have serious doubts regarding how he'd deal with a reserve role. But that's just me spitballing. It isn't something I've discussed with Carlisle or Marion.

Mark (Burleson)

I watched the Golden State game last night vs the Lakers. In a post-game interview, Bryant was asked what you learn in a game like this, and I thought his response was good. "Not much, We aren't going to see a team that plays this style of basketball in the playoffs." I thought this might be something for the Mavs to think about in that loss with New York. New York plays a different style than most playoff teams. Granted we lost by 34 and the Lakers won by 3, but I think the same thought process should apply. Do you think this thought process has merit for the Mavs?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:57 PM)

I think the Mavs basically have to flush the loss to the Knicks and move on. If anything, it's a lesson about re-committing to playing defense, which means keeping a true big man on the court.

Mario (Laredo, Texas )

What is the Mavs biggest weakness or area of concern?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:59 PM)

The Mavs addressed their biggest weaknesses with the trade with the Wizards, getting a player who can create his own shots in Caron Butler and a solid big man in Brendan Haywood. They could still use more perimeter shooting and youth/athleticism. But the biggest concern for the rest of the season is figuring out a way to get out of the gates quickly.

josh (dallas)

is jj a backup or still in competition for starting with kidd and roddy b

Tim MacMahon
  (4:00 PM)

When was JJ Barea ever battling for a starting job? He's fighting with Roddy Beaubois for the backup point guard minutes.

Zack McNulty (East Haven, CT)

Tim how far do you think the mavs are going to make it in the playoffs and at what number will they start

Tim MacMahon
  (4:01 PM)

My safe bet is that the Mavs will be the No. 3 seed and exit in the second round again. But their chances to advance past that are far, far better than they were a year ago. A Finals run wouldn't be stunning with the way the Lakers have struggled recently.

Tim MacMahon
  (4:02 PM)

OK, folks, gotta run. Thanks for joining us and be sure to check out the ESPNDallas.com Mavs blog.