Tonight will be an exciting night for Dirk Nowitzki. He’ll be taking the court for the season opener for the 18th time in his career with Dallas, and he’ll have a chance to say hello to his beloved former teammate Tyson Chandler too.
The Mavericks superstar might have some bittersweet memories since winning the franchise’s only championship with Chandler in 2011 and then having to watch him move on to the New York Knicks.
On Chandler and the opener, Nowitzi said, “He’s going to be fired up. That’s Tyson, …but so is everybody else. This is the season opener. For them it’s the home opener. Everybody’s going to be juiced up.”
The circumstances around Chandler are just as wrought with drama this time. Chandler had actually come back to Dallas for a season in a trade but he quickly signed with the Suns in free agency as the Mavericks’ struggled with their ill-fated pursuit of DeAndre Jordan, who ended up reneging on his promise to sign with Dallas and instead stayed with the Los Angeles Clippers at the last moment.
The Mavericks got rebuffed in their biggest offseason move, so instead made a couple of other moves and additions that has them believing they can compete in the Western Conference this year. Yes, they lost out on center DeAndre Jordan, but they have a new backcourt in Wesley Matthews and Deron Williams who should be game ready to play hard against the Phoenix host.
A small set back might be that Matthews (Achilles’ tendon) and Williams (calf) will be under a minutes restriction in the early weeks of the season so they can recover. The Mavs will be without small forward Chandler Parsons, who is also recovering from offseason knee surgery.
They are kicking off the season with a three-game road trip, all the while dealing with injuries. That’s not an ideal situation but Mavs coach Rick Carlisle isn’t losing his cool yet: “That’s why you have to have a deep team in this day and age,” Carlisle told reporters. “You’re going to have to absorb some injuries, and you’re going to have to deal with foul trouble, guys are going to get the flu once in a while, all kinds of things are going to happen during the course of an NBA season.”
Phoenix on the other hand has their ego to nurse, as they suffered a late collapse last season when they lost 10 of their final 11 games to just miss out on a playoff spot. They added center Tyson Chandler in the offseason to improve their inside toughness, but tonight will be a test to see if that move pays off.
Lasy year, the Mavs were 50-32, but this year more likely veteran power forward Dirk Nowitzki will need a little more rest. The 13-time All-Star has averaged under 18 points in two of the past three seasons but he is the heart and soul of the team and the leader of the squad. The 37-year-old Nowitzki ranks seventh on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with 28,119 points and he’ll surely pass sixth-place Shaquille O’Neal who has 28,596 point during this season’s campaign. They will need to keep Keeping Williams healthy and try to help him be as productive as possible, that will be pivotal ashis scoring average has steadily dropped from a career-high of 21.0 in 2011-12 to a career low of 13.0 last season before signing with the Mavericks during the offseason.
The Suns has a worse time of it last year, with a 39-43 record. So in response Phoenix has spent a lot of the summer trying to figure out if emerging star Markieff Morris would set aside his anger and disappointment after the organization traded his twin brother Marcus to the Detroit Pistons. The power forward has averaged 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds last season and came to training camp with the proper attitude. So the franchise is envisioning him to taking another step forward this season and make an impact on a team that needs a fresh infusion of youth. The Suns as their main attratcion feature an all point-guard backcourt with Eric Bledsoe, who had a team-best average of 17.0 points and 6.1 assists last season. Him, teamed up with Brandon Knight should create some positive plays on the court.
If you look at last season though as any indicator, the Suns won three of last season’s four meetings with Dallas In other news, Dallas coach Carlisle is reportedly close to agreeing on a five-year contract extension so that should have him coaching vigorously tonight. That’s why we think the Mavs will have the edge.
Our Prediction: Mavericks over Suns, 98-87