Rick Carlisle gave everybody a clue on Tuesday as to what the Mavericks’ lineup will look like early in this fast-approaching season.
A pair of players coming back from injury are playing a big part in clarifying the situation.
Dwight Powell, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon in January, has been a beacon in practices early in training camp, Carlisle said Tuesday.
With Kristaps Porzingis out until sometime in January, Carlisle said Powell’s fast recovery and the fact that Dorian Finney-Smith seems to be well recovered from the hip issues that hindered him last season bodes well for the start of the season.
“With KP being out early, Powell has played the entire training camp,” Carlisle said. “He’s gotten almost all his reps with the first unit. And he’s doing really well. So the fact that both Dorian and Powell are doing well with their past physical issues, those are real pluses for us.”
If Powell does, indeed, begin the season with the starting group, that would put him alongside Luka Dončić, Josh Richardson, Tim Hardaway Jr. and, possibly, Finney-Smith. While that lineup would be relatively small, it also would include several of the best defensive players on the team.
Finney-Smith certainly proved he’s capable in the starting role last season when he was on the floor for the jump ball 68 times in 71 games for a solid playoff team.
“Dorian’s physically done very well in the first few practices,” Carlisle said. “He has a great feel for the game. As much as we talk about his defense, his continued improvement offensively with his shooting and ability to make plays has been a big part of who we’ve become.”
More answers about how the Mavericks will look should start coming Saturday at Milwaukee in the first of three preseason games.
The regular season starts 11 days later on Dec. 23 at Phoenix.
Johnson practices: Newcomer James Johnson has been slowed by a knee problem early in camp but Carlisle reported that improvement has been made.
“He’s been doing things really since the beginning of camp, 5-on-0, technique stuff,” Carlisle said. “(Tuesday), he worked into live play and did well. He did not go through the entire live stuff, but I’d say he went through at least two-thirds to three-quarters of it and then I pulled him at the end.
“We just want to make sure that we’re incrementally not getting too ahead of ourselves. But the signs are good. He looks good physically. And he’s a real presence.”
The 6-7, 240-pound Johnson was brought in four his defensive grit, but it’s worth noting that he also had 19 points in 24 minutes against the Mavericks last February while with Minnesota.
Adapting to the times: The Mavericks have had to get used to a lot of different things in deference to the coronavirus.
As an example, the Biosteel practice facility has become a showerless venue.
“Everything’s different,” Carlisle said when it comes to making adjustments on the fly in the face of a global health crisis. “Players don’t shower at the facility.
“We come in every day and we have testing in a trailer in the parking lot. And so, the players have gone from parking near the back door which leads right into the training room, to parking out front so they can get out of their cars, do testing and come into the gym.”
Those are just little things, but they add up. And Carlisle is making sure that the Mavericks are well aware of the fact that teams that adapt best are more likely to have fun and success this season.
“It’s a lot of just different things logistically,” he said. “But what we’re saying is that resourcefulness has never been a bigger factor in how well a team is going to end up doing. We’ve got have a ‘find solutions’ attitude with everything we do because this whole situation we’re in worldwide is going to put up a fight. It’s just gonna.
“And so far, the spirit has been terrific, practices have been good and we got three more practices before we get on a plane to Milwaukee.”