Mavs hope to jell before difficult start to season

DALLAS — With their superstar and leader sidelined for the first 27 games of the season and a clear lack of chemistry on the court apparent minus their go-to scorer, the 2012-13 Dallas Mavericks failed to jell in time to turn things around following a lackluster start.

However, with 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki now healthy after playing his fewest games in a season since his rookie campaign following preseason arthroscopic knee surgery, this year’s Mavericks’ squad doesn’t see the jelling process becoming as difficult. And as they search for continuity over the course of the 82-game schedule, the Mavs also hope that the outcome is a return trip to the playoffs, after seeing the franchise’s stretch of 12 consecutive postseason berths come to an end thanks to a 41-41 record.

“That was a very disappointing and humbling experience,” big man Brandan Wright said while reminiscing over last year’s unsatisfying season. “You know, it stings just to be a part of that team that broke the 12-year streak. That was pretty bad and it was pretty embarrassing, but we kind of rallied at the end of the year and we played some better basketball. We let so many slip away. We’re just ready to get back out there. It’s pretty much a new team again, so we’re just going to have to come together real fast and see what happens.”

Like last season, the Mavericks will have little time to get a cast of new characters on the same page when training camp begins next Tuesday. Still, even with several new additions needing to be integrated into the fold, the Mavericks remain confident that they will be able to operate as one collective unit when the regular season gets underway Oct. 30 at home against Atlanta.

The team will then have to navigate its way through a daunting start to the season, playing a season-high tying 17 games in the month of November and six of its 16 total back-to-backs during the same span. With that said, the need to come together in a speedy fashion is apparent as the Mavericks try to combat chemistry issues, the opposition and an unfavorable schedule in the early going.

“I think we’ve got a team that knows how to play basketball,” newly-acquired point guard Jose Calderon said while downplaying potential chemistry issues. “There’s other teams that just rely on good players, but I think we can be a really good basketball team. And when we play as a team, it’s going to be easier to get to where we want to be, so I’m real excited. I think playing with these guys is going to make my job a little bit easier. I’m ready for it and I really want to get started knowing these guys on the court and just have fun.”

“It’s a great organization and a great team that we have,” backcourt mate Monta Ellis added. “I’m very excited and I always dreamed of playing with an organization as good as Dallas, so to be here and play with a Hall of Famer like Dirk makes everything easier and much smoother. Hopefully we can get back to Dallas Mavericks basketball and competing the way we should.”