CHARLOTTE, N.C. — While you might expect there to be a jovial mood at the Dallas Mavericks’ Monday practice in Charlotte while riding a season-best five-game winning streak, it was just business as usual.
Despite still flying high after Sunday’s 102-91 victory to surge 10 games over .500 for the first time since finishing the 2010-11 championship season with a 57-25 mark, the Mavericks (31-21) went right back to work focused on preparing for the next opponent. And with coach Rick Carlisle keeping his players on an even keel, the Mavs turned their attention to a Charlotte Bobcats team that would be the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference if the playoffs were to begin today.
“I don’t think Coach [Carlisle] will let us get happy,” 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki joked after the team’s Monday workout on the Bobcats’ practice court. “We had a nice little film session today and just prepared like we lost 10 in a row, to be quite honest with you. We had a long film session in the hotel and lifted as a team.”
Looking to replicate an 89-82 home win over the Bobcats (22-29) back on Dec. 3, the Mavericks will try to equal their longest winning streak since seizing six victories in a row from February 8-17, 2012. In order to do so, however, the Mavs will have to continue their dominance of the Bobcats, after winning 17 of 18 in the all-time series.
Outscoring the Bobcats 29-15 in the fourth quarter during that December meeting, the Mavericks once again expect to find themselves in a dogfight as Bobcats big man Al Jefferson continues to terrorize opposing teams inside. And with Jefferson averaging 27.3 points and 11.8 rebounds over his last 13 games, the Mavs fully expect to have their hands full.
“These guys held Golden State to 75 last week. This team is a good team,” Carlisle said with a great amount of respect for the Bobcats. “They were really close to beating San Antonio two nights ago, and we had to grind our (tails) off to beat these guys last time. We were down most of the game. And, look, Jefferson is averaging 28 points in the last five games and 30 in their wins. I mean, he’s a monster in there. [Gerald] Henderson and [Kemba] Walker are dynamic scorers. They rebound the heck out of it, they’re very physical and they’re efficient. They play a playoff style, and this is going to have a playoff feel from a physical standpoint.”
“We’ve been doing better defensively and rebounding-wise, and I think that’s the key to winning some games. But this team is very good here,” Nowitzki added. “They play hard, they’re well-coached, they’re very good defensively, and we’ve got to be ready for a battle. I mean, they play very physical and Jefferson has been a beast, so we’ve got to be ready for a battle tomorrow and that’s the mindset we’ve got to go in with.”
Note: The Mavericks will now make the second stop on their three-game road trip Tuesday in Charlotte, taking on the Bobcats for the second time this season. Dallas leads the season series 1-0 after an 89-82 home win back on Dec. 3. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 6 p.m. CT.
After the All-Star break, the Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Tuesday, Feb. 18, facing off against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. Miami leads the season series 1-0 after handing Dallas a 110-104 road loss back on Nov. 15. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.