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Washington Wizards vs. Dallas Mavericks: Regular Season Game 41 Open Thread

The Essentials:

Mavericks (27-14) vs. Wizards (14-26)
7 p.m.
Verizon Center
Radio: 106.7 The Fan

Notable Mavericks numbers this season

11th in expected winning percentage (.580)
19th in pace (92 possessions per game)
13th in offensive efficiency/offensive rating (107/5 points/100 possessions)
11th in defensive efficiency/defensive rating (105.1 points/100 possessions)

Pre-game links

Mavs Moneyball, SB Nation's Dallas Mavericks blog
The Two Man Game, Dallas Mavericks blog, the source for top-notch first-hand Dallas Mavericks news and analysis
GameDay Mavericks Donuts
Michael Lee talks to Dwayne Casey, Randy Foye's first NBA coach and current Mavs assistant, about Foye

Tonight's Projected Starters
Mavericks vs. Wizards
Jason Kidd PG Randy Foye
Jason Terry SG DeShawn Stevenson
Shawn Marion SF Caron Butler
Dirk Nowitzki PF Antawn Jamison
Erick Dampier C Brendan Haywood

The Dallas Mavericks come into town tonight as a consistently good, yet not great team. They're currently second in the West, but that's in large part to the other teams in that conference having their issues (Spurs, Blazers, etc.). If you go by expected winning percentage, they're only the seventh-best team in the West, behind teams like Utah and Oklahoma City. On the flip side, they've been a bit banged up in the early going, and as Mike Fisher points out in the Donuts link above, they have the softest schedule in the league the rest of the way if you go by opponents' winning percentage.

Some quick notes from pregame:

  • DeShawn Stevenson will start and Mike Miller will come off the bench. "[Mike] had a little bit of soreness, but I think that's just from not playing for so long," Flip Saunders said. "He's ready to go, but we'll try to limit his minutes to 24-26."
  • Saunders was asked to assess the season at the halfway point. "Incomplete. We're not where we want to be, no question. Things haven't gone as expected since Antawn got hurt in Cleveland. Things haven't fallen into place."
  • I feel like we've heard a lot this season about Flip saying he's simplifying things and getting back to the basics. He did it again when I asked him about defending Dallas' two-man game tendencies. "A couple weeks ago, basically when the thing happened with Gil, I said we were going to concentrate on the things we do and make teams adjust to us. Even if there might be something that [we can do] that they don't play well against, if it's not in our repertoire and we don't do it very well, we won't have success."
  • You've probably noticed the lack of threes recently. "Coaches decision," Saunders said. "We stress to our guys to not live on the longball. We've almost put in a rule where if the ball swings to the top, you've either got a quick shot or your driving it." He added that in the game in which he called a timeout after the first play (forgot which game this was), it was because Foye took a three and he wanted to stop that.
  • Locker-room media debate that we had: if Gilbert Arenas does come back to the NBA, which shoe company will he sign with, now that Adidas dropped him? Thoughts?