DALLAS — It’s finally time for a little Dallas Mavericks basketball.
Nearly six months after seeing their season end on the outside looking into the playoffs for the first time since 2000, the Mavericks (0-0) return to the hardwood Monday to begin their eight-game preseason schedule against the New Orleans Pelicans. And after pushing each other around during the first week of training camp, the new-look Mavs are chomping at the bit to see how they match up against another squad.
“That time is coming,” new addition Monta Ellis said as he looks towards the upcoming season. “I think we’ve had a great training camp so far. I think everybody came in and worked very, very hard. Everybody is pretty much on the same page. Everybody wants to win. Everybody is excited. So it’s going to be a great season.
“My thing is I want more W’s than L’s,” he added, “and hopefully we can get back to being an elite team and just continue to come work hard, play hard and leave it all on the court.”
Monday night, the Southwest Division rival Pelicans (1-0) invade American Airlines Center after shedding the Hornets moniker and team colors, securing a 116-115 win Saturday in Houston to open preseason play. And after adding guard Tyreke Evans in free agency this summer, the New Orleans team figures to be a formidable opponent this season led by former No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis and sharpshooter Eric Gordon.
Meanwhile, the Mavs are likely to be down three expected contributors in the backcourt as projected starting point guard Jose Calderon is listed as doubtful to play due to a nagging hamstring while veteran Devin Harris (toe) and first-round draft pick Shane Larkin (ankle) continue to rehab from offseason surgery.
Calderon has been able to practice despite the injury, but was held out of the team’s intrasquad scrimmage Friday during the organization’s annual Mavstoberfest event. And with seven more exhibition contests on deck, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle sees no need to rush the 32-year-old veteran floor general back too soon.
“We’ve got to make sure that [Calderon] is going at the right pace here. We’ve got to understand that he’s been playing all summer. You know, he was playing till two weeks ago all over the world and there’s some grind to that. There’s some fatigue, and we need him on (Oct. 30 for the season opener). That’s when we need him,” Carlisle said after Calderon played with the Spanish National Team during Eurobasket 2013.
He added: “We’ve got to get him involved, but not at any kind of risk level. That doesn’t make sense.”
Note: The Mavericks play host to the New Orleans Pelicans in the preseason opener Monday night at American Airlines Center. The game tips off 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.