Mavs prepare for physical, hard-charging Bulls squad

Practice Report: Dirk Nowitzki

Mavs F Dirk Nowitzki discusses Friday's game against the Bulls, Wayne Ellington's role off the bench, the groove Vince Carter has been in recently and much more.

DALLAS — Despite reeling off 10 wins in their last 12 contests and four straight victories overall, the Dallas Mavericks admit that a much more difficult challenge awaits.

Facing the dangerous Chicago Bulls on Friday at American Airlines Center to begin a rough stretch in the schedule of playoff-contending teams, the Mavericks (36-23) will try to keep their edge while also raising their level of intensity. And while hoping to duplicate a 105-83 dominant road win in Chicago back on Dec. 28, the Mavs will attempt to ramp up for what’s expected to be a physical affair.

“The competition gets tougher, so it’s more physical, it’s harder to score and it’s harder to get stops,” Maverick coach Rick Carlisle confessed following Thursday’s team practice. “You’ve got to be that much more tied together, you’ve go to be that much more efficient and you’ve got to have that much more concentration on the boards.”

Practice Report: Rick Carlisle

Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle comments on Wayne Ellington's contributions to the team, his ability to stay ready, Friday night's matchup against the Bulls and more.

With the Bulls (31-26) seeking their eighth victory in nine games, the Mavericks will undoubtedly face a daunting task while trying to keep their own winning streak alive. Meanwhile, the Mavs hope to learn from the first showdown between the two squads, when the visiting Dallas team led by as many as 32 on the Bulls’ home floor.

In order to once again corral the Bulls, however, the Mavericks acknowledge that they will have to play with more grit on the boards, losing the rebounding battle 40-34 during Wednesday’s 108-89 home win over New Orleans. And after winning the battle on the boards 39-34 in the first meeting against the Bulls, in addition to shooting 52.6 percent, the Mavericks will again look to make their presence felt.

“Yeah, we’re capable of doing it, but at the same time it’s going to be a grind,” forward Shawn Marion said. “We’ve got to just gut it out. It might not happen in that first, second or third quarters. It might happen right towards the end of the game or it could happen during a stretch where you get like four stops in a row and it gets you just enough momentum to close the game out. You never know when it’s going to happen, and everything plays a part in that.”

“With Chicago in particular, they’re a plus-10 in their last five wins in rebound margin, which is an astronomical number,” Carlisle added. “And even in their last five losses they’re still a plus-three, so they’re a (heck) of a rebounding team any way you cut it and that’s going to be a big part of the game. It’s going to be very, very physical. … You know, it’s going to be physical, and you’ve got to be geared up mentally for it. You know, if you’re geared up mentally, you have a chance to meet the physical challenge. That’s the way I see it, and it’s a grinding-type physical game. We’ve just got to be prepared for 48 minutes of real, tough, fighting-for-everything-type basketball.”

Note: The Mavericks return to action at American Airlines Center Friday night, hosting the Chicago Bulls. Dallas leads the season series 1-0 after a 105-83 road win back on Dec. 28. 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

Practice Report: Shawn Marion

Mavs F Shawn Marion talks about the team's recent success, continuing to play together as a team and leaving it all out on the floor.