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March 23, 3:00 PM ET
Chat with Tim MacMahon

Tim MacMahon
  (2:58 PM)

Welcome to this week's Mavs chat on ESPNDallas.com. Let's begin by wishing geezer point guard Jason Kidd a happy 37th birthday. His present is a home game against the Clippers tonight. On to the questions ...

Mardale B (Dallas)

Will the Mavs loose ground and end up being a 4-8 seed or can the rebound a hold the #2 spot?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:02 PM)

I still think the Mavs will snap out of this recent funk and end up with the second or third seed. A lot depends on what the Nuggets do on a brutal five-game road trip they're about to begin. That trip ends in Dallas the night after the Nuggets play in Orlando. That's as close to a must-win as a regular-season game can get. But you can't sleep on the Jazz, who have a pretty soft schedule down the stretch and own the tiebreaker over the Mavs. Utah jumping up to the No. 2 seed wouldn't be stunning.

Lucas (Germany)

Hey Tim,what's up with Eddie Najera getting so many minutes? I thought the whole point of having Haywood and Damp was to have a real center on the floor for 48minutes. Our lineups of JJB,Terry and Najera get slaughtered on defense on a regular basis.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:05 PM)

Quite frankly, I'm as befuddled as you are by this. It's something I need to ask Carlisle about. I thought the Mavs would have a true big man on the floor except in rare circumstances. But even in smallball situations, I don't see how Najera makes the Mavs any more dangerous. He'll hit the occasional 3, but he's really not a scoring threat. Why not go with Marion and Dirk as the two "bigs" in smallball situations? I'd also like to see Marion get the vast majority of minutes at power forward when Dirk is resting. Najera is a nice player to have at the end of the roster, because he's a true pro will will practice hard, etc. But he doesn't belong in a contender's rotation at this point of his career.

Jason (Fort Worth, TX)

Why does Carlisle complain about defensive stops but still continues to play Barea in the 4th when they need stops? It makes absolutely no sense. If you need to rest Kidd, play Terry at point with Marion and Butler. We went to the NBA finals with Terry as the starting PG and Harris at the SG, so why does Carlisle act like Jason Terry cant play point? Its ridiculous. Its common sense. Barea and Carlisle are hurting this team. They lose big leads when guys like Barea and Damp play extended minutes. And carlisle doesnt seem to care.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:09 PM)

I disagree with your take on Dampier, who is overpaid but a solid defender and rebounder when he has two good legs. Your point about Barea's defensive limitations is on the money. Folks wanted to gush about his clutch scoring in the fourth quarter against the Bulls, but that would have been garbage time if Acie Law didn't keep blowing by Barea. But I don't think Terry as the point guard is the answer. For whatever reason, he lost his ability to run the point. Remember the stretch when Devin Harris was injured before the Kidd trade? Terry was terrible. He's much better suited just concentrating on scoring as a 2 guard. Roddy Beaubois might have been the answer, but I'm afraid the opportunity to get him playoff-ready as a PG was wasted with a lot of DNP-CDs. And while Beaubois is a much, much better athlete than Barea, he makes too many rookie mistakes on defense. Backup point guard is the biggest weakness in the Mavs' rotation.

DJ (Houston)

How healthy are the Mavs right now and how much does the need to be healthy play into their intensity over the last part of the schedule? Are they more worried about being healthy or getting a higher seed? I personally think a healthy Mavs team is far more important.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:12 PM)

With Terry and Dampier back, the Mavs are as healthy as they could possibly hope to be. The Mavs' focus now is on who knows what. They say they're determined to get the best seed possible, and that's where their focus ought to be. You can't play to stay healthy. It's on Carlisle to make sure guys like Kidd get enough rest, but that could mean giving him practices off, which has happened on a regular basis recently. It'd help if they'd blow out some bad teams so Kidd and other vets could ice their knees in the fourth quarter.

Kenny (Plano, TX)

Alright Timmy, who do you want closing in the 4th? It's very obvious the Mavs have a dilemma about where to go with this. Obviously you're going to have Kidd, Dirk, Haywood/Damp. Out of Caron, Marion, Terry which 2 do you go with.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:15 PM)

I assume you saw the blog post from this morning where Carlisle discussed the dilemma. I agree with him that there's no need to declare a fivesome that will always finish games. Dirk and Kidd will obviously always be out there. Haywood ought to be, too, unless the Mavs have to match up with the opponents' smallball lineup. It'd be tough to take Terry out, simply because that guy is at his best down the stretch. He's sixth in the league in fourth quarter ppg. So the decision often comes down to Butler or Marion. Do the Mavs need their best defender to harass an opposing wing? Go with Marion. Do they need a guy to take pressure off Dirk and Jet by creating his own shot? Go with Butler.

David (Dallas)

I think Carlisle has lost this team. Its the only explanation for the lack of effort and bad D. It explains the losses to horrible teams with this new lineup. I think theyre tired of the instability w the lineups.... Whats your take?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:18 PM)

How can a coach lose a team coming off a 13-game winning streak? Carlisle isn't the most popular man in the Mavs' locker room, but he isn't concerned with being liked. He has said that he wants a "healthy uncomfortableness" with his players, and it sounds like more of that is needed right now with all the talk about relaxing. There's no doubt Avery Johnson lost this team. If something similar happens with Carlisle, you've got to wonder whether the players are the problem. I don't see that happening any time soon, even if Carlisle grates on some of the players.

Xabinus (Thailand)

Even with two legitimate centers and a 7-foot PF, the Mavs have trouble with their defense in the paint, as seen recently with David West's never-ending stream of lay-ups. What are the Mavs doing wrong defensively?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:20 PM)

Well, they're not doing much right at the moment. It doesn't help matters when they commit 16-20 turnovers per game, which lead to easy buckets for their opponents. This team has proven for significant stretches that it can be a good defensive team. It comes down to guts and commitment.

Xabinus (Thailand)

In crunch time or when trying to cut a deficit, why do the Mavs top scorers settle for low percentage perimeter shots, rather than drive to the basket where they might be able to at least get a trip to the free throw line ?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:22 PM)

This has been a Mavs problem for years. Caron Butler, who will go strong, helps. It's tough to criticize Dirk, who isn't afraid to go to the hole, for shooting that funky fadeaway when it goes in so often. That's his go-to move. Jason Terry and Jason Kidds are jump shooters. I think this is more a matter of the makeup of the team rather than the Mavs being timid. Again, you'd hope Butler would help by attacking the basket when he's on the floor with the game on the line.

Sergio (Grand Prairie)

Hey Tim, Is Dampier finger still injured because he never came back into the game in the 2nd half when Haywood got out and Najara came in?

Tim MacMahon
  (3:24 PM)

Dampier's finger isn't completely healthy, but I don't believe that had anything to do with his limited playing time last night. Carlisle tends to go small when the Mavs get in comeback mode.

David (Dallas)

Any chance we can talk Tim Thomas into coming back for the playoffs? We really miss him as a back up PF to Dirk..

Tim MacMahon
  (3:24 PM)

It's doubtful. With his wife fighting a serious illness, Thomas' sole focus is on his family.

Kenny (Plano, TX)

Any reason why Carlisle doesn't turn to Stevenson more to help spell Terry/Butler? Granted he's struggled with his shot this season but he's ironically one of the better wing defenders we have and even played Kobe well. After watching Thornton, Rondo, Douglas tear us up you would think Carlisle would try it.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:26 PM)

I believe Stevenson's role on this team is scrapping with elite wing scorers for a few minutes per game. He's not a guy you can ask to defend waterbug point guards, but he could be key against Kobe or Carmelo if/when the Mavs see those guys in the playoffs.

Lucas (Germany)

Do you think Haywood is still having problems with his back? He seems to be much worse(less mobile,less elevation) than before after he missed those 2 games.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:27 PM)

I'd have to ask Haywood that. He had a stretch of three pretty sorry performances, but he was active last night with 10 points, nine boards and a couple of blocks in limited time.

Tim MacMahon
  (3:28 PM)

OK, folks, gotta wrap it up. Join me on the ESPNDallas.com Mavs blog for tonight's game against the Clippers. Can the Mavs avoid being blown out by another lottery team? Tune in tonight to find out.