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April 5, 3:00 PM ET
Mavs with Jeff Caplan

Jeff Caplan
  (3:00 PM)

Welcome back everybody. Interesting week on the road for the Mavericks with a 3-3 road trip and 0-2 with blowouts to the Lakers and Blazers.Bad sign? Let's get to it.

Jeff (NYC)

here's a crazy idea. the mavs sud 'tank' the next couple games and get the 4 seed. i'm sorry, but i don't denver can beat us in best-of-7 (but Portland can). as well, it's best to avoid the lakers as long as possible. i'll take first 2 rounds of DEN and SA then POR and LAL. what say you?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:03 PM)

Jeff, sure, great idea,I mean why not? Why not go into the playoffs completely out of sync and no momentum to speak of. If I'm the Mavs, these last five games have got to be used to get some chemistry back, get a rotation going, intensify the defense and get roles sorted out. Forget about the No. 4 seed. After Wednesday night, you might think there's no way the Mavs can beat Denver. At this point we just don't know. What about Memphis? Last week people were telling me that Portland is their BEST matchup. I didn't see it that way, but that seemed to be the popular opinion.

LL (VA)

Jeff,what is wrong with this team?I just don't get the up and down play of this team.....it's time to turn it on.Your thoughts?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:06 PM)

LL, I wish I could give you clear and concise reasons as to what's happened. But,here's a few. I think the integration of Roddy and Peja, but especially Roddy has hurt. Roddy has not played particularly well and he can be a liability on both ends as he learns on the fly. Suddenly, Marion is a starter, which has put the bench rotation at of whack. I'm not sure why Peja or Corey Brewer (and he's a whole other story) can't start just as Sasha Pavlovic) did and bring Marion off the bench. One reason is defense. When you have Roddy and Peja out there, you significantly weaken yourself defensively. So there are some problems there. Add what I feel is an ineffective Jason Kidd,a poor-shooting Jet Terry and the burden once again falls on Dirk.

Slashy (Houston)

What are the chances Kidd leaves Dallas after this year is up, and Beaubois moves to PG?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:08 PM)

Slashy, interesting question. If the Mavs were in better position with their PG position I might say Kidd could be dealt to say, New York, although Billups will apparently still be there for one more high-priced season. Miami could certainly be a spot where they would welcome Kidd. He has one more year for $8 mil here. The problem is that Roddy is nowhwere near ready to take over. J.J. could be gone next season as well. The lockout makes this messy too because I don't think you're going to see the season start on time, so that puts the kibosh on free agency and trades.

Alex (Hong Kong)

I think the Mavs have to step it up significantly if they want to avoid a one and done. They play no defense at present and Carlisle has not determined any consistent rotation so late in the season. Play Brewer more, he is known to be a versatile defender. Terry should shut up and have his actions speak. He is lousy lately. Kidd has no shooting once defense tightens and Beaubois gets no playing time. Let him play...

Jeff Caplan
  (3:10 PM)

Well, Alex, looks like you've nailed all that ails the Mavs. It is frightening how discombobulated they appear at this late juncture. I sort of kept pounding at the fact that even though they didn't make a deadline deal, it almost felt that way by having to mesh in Roddy and Peja. This team performed at its best this season when it had a stable environment in terms of rotation and roles. Carlisle continues to insist that he likes Brewer and says he will get some opportunity here in the final five games.

Richard S (Arlington)

Wouldn't you say the Blazers are considerably better than your normal 6 seed? Considering they were without Brandon Roy most of the season and gave up very little (short term at least) to get Gerald Wallace, this team could should probably be competing for a top three seed. Do you agree?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:12 PM)

Considerably better than your normal No. 6 seed? I don't know. Were the Spurs considerably better than your normal No. 7 seed last season? Was Golden State considerably better than your normal No. 8 seed in '07? What difference does it make. 5-8 have all played very good basketball since the All-Star break and all will have their challenges. But, the Mavs have been 2nd or 3rd all season and therefore they should beat which ever team they encounter in the first round.

Jaime (Mexico)

Hi Jeff, nice to have you here again. What has happened to Carlisle his rotations have been crazy, nobody knows what is going to happen when and that worries me and I think Kidd should be done in playoffs I know he brings a lot of intangibles but lately has been a liability and his passes look like a rookie, plus Barea is more productive than him. Thank you and hope you have a nice week.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:15 PM)

Jaime, you are not going to find anyone in the Mavs organization to say a single negative word about Jason Kidd. And not that anything negative necessarily has to be said. But, I have written this for years: I think Kidd has to score 10-12 points a game for the Mavs to be successful in the playoffs. Or, he can only shoot two or three times a game. These 0-of-5, 1-of-7 nights are absolutely a killer and can't happen in the playoffs. But, that's been the norm over the last month or so. His scoring average is now 7.9 and that is not good. As for the rotations, I agree, some continuity has to be attained here.

Tim (NY)

Why is there no consistent starting lineup yet? Why is Brewer not playing? Where is the zone defense the Mavs played so successfully at the beginning of the season? I cant believe the management did not try to get Wallace, he killed us last night.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:19 PM)

Tim, the starting lineup appears set to me: Kidd, Roddy, Marion, Dirk, Chandler....the change to DeShawn starting at SF against Golden State was a matchup deal Carlisle went with. The zone defense worked early in the season, but look, they've got Roddy now out there and Peja at times, so it's a different makeup. Plus,the Mavs know you can't win in the playoffs by playing a ton of zones, teams will exploit it. It's a gadget in the NBA and should be treated as such. Yeah, Wallace looked good. Ownership here has decided to pull back on the purse strings. I think Wallace could have helped and if you think this is the year, then go for it, but the Mavs didn't want to pull the trigger on any deal that brought back salary and perhaps might have prevented re-signing Tyson Chandler, which isn't a sure-thing anyway.

ianlloreda (fort worth)

As every game passes it seems that the starting lineup lacks the necessary tools to succeed in the 1st quarter. I know it will not happen but what about this starting 5: Barea,Stevenson,Marion,Dirk, Chandler with Kidd,Terry/Roddy,Peja, and Haywood off the bench. 1st quarters have been plagued with turnovers and stagnant offense.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:20 PM)

You're right, not happening. But, what if you just swap out Roddy for Stevenson? Then you at least have a gritty defender out there to start games.

Jason (Troy, TX)

Let's say we face the Lakers in round two. Hypothetically speaking, what is our answer to Andrew Bynum defensively? What is our answer to Dirk playing terrible defense against Odem or Gasol? Seems the last two times we played the Lakers, Bynum has had his way with our big men. Dirk seems to get in foul trouble even if he tries to play defense. This is assuming we make it out of the first round. It's pointless to win the first round if we are just going to get dumped in the second round. Is it possible that Butler comes back in the first or second round? Do we have an update on him by any chance?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:23 PM)

Jason, I think you have your answer. There's not much of one. Look, the stated reason why the Mavs traded for Chandler to tag-team with Haywood was to face the length of the Lakers. Well, Bynum has destroyed the Mavs' centers in the last two games to the tune of 40 points and 28 boards, and I love Gasol's inside game (frankly I wish Dirk had more of that low-pot finesse game at times). LA is just a beast of a matchup for anyone. Then you add Roddy out there and he can't guard Kobe (as we saw), so then you have Marion on Kobe and Kidd has to try to defend Artest. Just a tough situation all the way around.

casanova (lewisville)

is the loss of caron butler hurting more then people say? he was literally our only two way player on this team, and without him, our roster is behind dirk is average at best

Jeff Caplan
  (3:25 PM)

Casanova, sure, it hurts. Butler was on his way to being the team's second-leading scorer and he was shooting very well from 3-point range. Take the second or even third-leading scorer off any team and it is going to hurt. It's been a revolving door at SF ever since his injury. what hurts most that people aren't really talking about is Butler's defense as a strong, low-center-of-gravity defender on the wing. The Mavs miss that.

Nick (boston)

do you think its a good idea if the mavs just kinda pack it in the last few games with the 3 seed essentially locked up and maybe the time off could make them forget why theyre in a funk on offense and get rest for key players and be healthy ready to go fo the playoffs?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:27 PM)

Nick,It's a good question. Maybe some rest both physically and mentally will help and they start the playoffs blazing. I don't know if it works that way. Carlisle said today that Kidd will get a game or two off in the final five. As for anyone else,doubtful they get a full game off, but minutes could be reduced. I think this team has to find itself on the court again and that means playing. Wednesday's game against Denver should be very telling whether this team has its head on straight. Denver is playing very, very well and is in sync, especially defensively. The Mavs will have to be playing at a high level to win and it might be just what they need to get things straightened out.

Andrew (Houston)

Not looking good for the Mavs...at this point the Hornets may be our best matchup for the playoffs, but does it matter? What are our odds against any of the teams in the first round? Although the lower 3 teams won't say it they all hope for a matchup with Dallas for the greatest chance of an upset. I fear one and done but do we have any chance to make it past round 2?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:30 PM)

Andrew, clearly I think N.O. is the team you'd most want to face without David West. So much toughness and scoring is lost. Memphis has a ton of size and Randolph just kills Dallas. Marc Gasol does a nice job, too. Even without Rudy Gay, Memphis is showing it can be tough and they have some confidence agianst the Mavs over the past two seasons. Portland is obviously a handful, too. Having said that, I do think the Mavs should win in the first round. They are still a talented and deep team and should win.

Andy (Chicago)

Not that it's the most constructive time to be bringing it up, but I sometimes feel that Jason Terry is a big part of the problem with the Mavs' inability to perform up to expectations (expectations that come with 11 50-win seasons in a row without any rings). His mouth is a distraction, particularly when he can't back it up (which he now hasn't in a number of big games and a few playoffs in a row). What good is a pure jump-shooter if he's not there when you need him? Can't help but feel like he's a big reason we win 50+ games but then don't win in the playoffs: his ability to perform when it doesn't matter masks needed areas for improvement. It would be more tolerable if wasn't also an embarrassment when it comes to cheap shots and running his mouth even after 30-point losses.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:32 PM)

Andy, hard to argue with you. Jet hasn't met a jumper or a mic he didn't like. He's been a money player in the fourth quarter for much of this season, but he's had two bad postseasons and he knows it. He needs to turn that around. He remains the second-best scoring option the team has and he has to live up to that.

Eric (Fort Worth, tx)

What is the Status of Caron Butler? Is he still trying to get back in time for the playoffs? The defense has been so pitiful without him. Even at 75% he would vastly improve this team.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:33 PM)

He's on the court during practices now, although he is NOT practicing. No way is he ready for the first round. Beyond that? Well, we'll see. Carlisle today said he is well ahead of the usual pace from an injury such as his. He's fighting to get back. It's just a lot to ask of a guy to first come back and second to be able to play at a playoff level.

Sonny (DFW)

Is it wrong of me to hope we let Dirk go soon so he can chase a ring with LA or another contender while still in his prime? He doesn't deserve all the dead weight he's pulling. What he does deserve is a ring, more so than anyone in the NBA today.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:34 PM)

Sonny, Dirk had his ring in front of his nose five years ago. I don't think Dirk's going anywhere. He's got three more years right here and frankly,I don't know what this team will look like after this season.

Jarad (Fort Worth)

Hey Jeff, I wanted to throw some numbers by you and get your thoughts on what the team is doing about these. 17% and 35%. Those are Kidd's shooting percentages for the past week and the season. Do you expect Carlisle to adjust his minutes or is this just a factor of a heavy schedule? Also, is Kidd even practicing his 3point shot anymore?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:37 PM)

Jarad, you don't have to tell me about Kidd's shooting numbers. I'm the only one in this town that points those out. His shooting is killing this team. That's not the only problem they have, but it hurts. I know Kidd is a great floor leader, is an instinctually superior player on many levels, but tell me how many point guards you have out there averaging 8 points, 8 assists and shooting 35 percent, and you say that's just what we need? I like Jason Kidd. I just think with the Mavs' current cast that they need more from him. Put, him in Miami or L.A. and maybe that's not the case.

John S (Addison)

On the band wagon, off it, on it, off it. I have the same sick feeling most Mavs fans have that it was all smoke and mirrors for the regular season and now its time for us to exit stage left in the first round. Any reason at all to think other wise at this point? We look OLD and SLOW, which is what we are unfortunetly.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:39 PM)

Well, this team has still won 53 games, so along with being old and slow it must be good on some levels. The playoffs is a different animal than the regular season. These old and slow guys have pride. None have a ring. they know what's at stake, they know this can be a wasted season. They key is do they believe they can win in the playoffs. They say they are confident. They should get to the second round. if not, Cuban has a big big problem because his franchise will be in danger of becoming irrelevant in this town.

The SHEEHAN (Mgr's Office)

Who is possible on the market that can give us a bad guy, a tough guy that doesn't take %#$@. The Mavs are the soft do gooders which just doesn't get it done in the NBA.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:40 PM)

well, much will depend on when the lockout ends, what the salary structure looks like and what the Mavs can afford, which won't be much. The Mavs are going to have to shed salary to fit into a new hard cap, which is what the owners, including Cuban, want.

Caron Butler (Hyperbaric Chamber, TX)

Do I get a spot on the playoff roster?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:41 PM)

There is no "playoff roster" so to speak. If Butler is capable of playing he can be used on a game-to-game basis.

Tyler (Dallas)

Is the NBA Finals a real possibility? Or just a dream inside the hearts of every Mavs fan?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:42 PM)

Tyler, at one point this season, when the Mavs really seemed to be on the same page and playing solid defense, and the Lakers really seemed to be a bit vulnerable, a run to the finals seemed possible. Right now, I'd have to say it's a dream. Maybe that can change.

etf (:pppp)

jason terry becoming too much of a bigmouth?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:43 PM)

I'll let the fans be the judge of that.

Derrick (Euless, TX)

It seems that a lot of games this year have been lost because the Mavs get little to no second chance points and allow too many offensive rebounds. Why is it that we never win that battle against most teams?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:44 PM)

I don't know why the Mavs don't win that battle more often with the size they have. But, you are right, defensive rebounding is something Carlisle consistently harps on and against LA and Portland it is especially important. Throw in Memphis, too.

Derrick (Euless, TX)

Is it really best to start Roddy B for the rest of this season and possibly into the playoffs? When he starts the Mavs immediately are at a disadvantage defensively and his offense has been too inconsistent for him to keep starting. I would trust Deshawn Stevenson's judgment much better on both ends of the floor despite him not being as much an offensive threat as Roddy B. What do you think?

Jeff Caplan
  (3:46 PM)

It appears Carlisle will live and die with Roddy starting. Certainly the idea of replacing him with DeShawn Stevenson is out there, but I don't see that happening. If Carlisle wanted to get back to what has worked the best, he'd go with Stevenson at the 2, use Peja as a 15-20 minute starter at SF and go back to Marion and Terry off the bench, with Roddy coming in to change up the pace.

Jeff Caplan
  (3:47 PM)

OK, folks, I am all out of time for this week. As always, appreciate your questions and joining me at espndallas.com. Continue to let people know that we are here and we are FREE on the internet. You won't find more in-depth, news, analysis and opinion anywhere else when it comes to the Mavs. Next week we should know a playoff opponent. Enjoy the games and see you then.