Practice Report: Rick CarlisleMavs head coach Rick Carlisle looks ahead to the final preseason game against Indiana, Gal Mekel's development, Samuel Dalembert's impact on defense and more.
DALLAS — When they step on the court one final time in the preseason, the Dallas Mavericks don’t plan on getting caught looking ahead to next Wednesday night when the team opens up the regular season against the Atlanta Hawks.
Instead, when the Mavericks (4-3) conclude the exhibition schedule Friday night against the Indiana Pacers, the Dallas team will once again be focused on continuing to progress before games begin to count in the standings.
Hours after seizing a 98-88 victory over a short-handed Atlanta squad, the Mavs returned to the practice court to prepare for an Indiana team that pushed the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat to the brink of defeat in a grueling seven-game series of the Eastern Conference Finals last season. And after claiming a 92-85 victory in Indiana last Wednesday night while the Pacers (2-5) played without three of their top contributors, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle prepared his team for arguably its toughest test to date.
“Well, it’s another top team, so that’s a good situation for us,” Carlisle said while looking ahead to Friday night’s matchup. “The last time we played them they weren’t anything near full strength. They’ll be a lot closer to that (Friday night), so it’s a great test for us. It’s a big, physical team that was the best defensive team in the league last year, so they’re going to test your ability to not only score but to get clean shots. We need that work. And then defensively they cause problems, because they’re so big, strong, and they shoot it well from the outside. So, you know, there’s a lot of things that you have to deal with when you play Indiana, and it’s a great team for us to play at this point.”
When the two teams met up last week, the Pacers were without leading scorer Paul George (bronchitis), center Roy Hibbert (rest) and power forward David West (rest). As a result the Mavs outshot the Pacers on the night, 42.9 percent to 33.3 percent. Dallas also forced Indiana into 17 turnovers, adding a 48-46 rebounding edge and a 46-22 advantage in points in the paint.
But even with the Pacers’ three starters expected to be available for the second go-round, the Mavs’ preparation did not change a bit, according to sixth man Vince Carter.
“We’re trying to get ourselves better,” Carter explained after also sitting out the first showdown between the two squads. “You know, it’s all about right now what we can do to get better and how we can prepare ourselves for Opening Night. So, whether they have their starting unit or their second unit, it doesn’t matter for us. … It’s not about what they do. It’s about us defensively just continuing to get better and continuity offensively.”
Note: The Mavericks return to American Airlines Center when they conclude the preseason Friday night against the Indiana Pacers. The game will air locally on TXA 21 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.