Postgame: J.J. Barea
Mavs G J.J. Barea talks about the left calf strain he suffered in Wednesday's game against Boston.
DALLAS — Despite adding another name to their list of piling injuries Wednesday night in Boston before eventually falling to a hard-fought 90-83 loss on the road, the Dallas Mavericks returned home with a bit of encouragement as they prepare to face a Southwest Division opponent on Friday.
Already playing without 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki (right Achilles soreness) and veteran reserve Devin Harris (right great toe sprain), the Mavericks (2-8) thought they’d receive a boost by the return of starting point guard Deron Williams to the lineup following a four-game absence with a left calf strain. Instead, the Mavericks would see Williams exit the game in the first half after experiencing tightness in his aching calf, forcing the three-time All-Star lead guard to the bench as the team battled without him. The Mavericks would then lose another key contributor in the backcourt during the fourth quarter when undersized guard J.J. Barea went down awkwardly while operating around a screen set by a teammate. And with Barea expected to be out of the lineup for an extended period of time with a left calf strain, the banged-up Mavs could find themselves further handicapped when they welcome in the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.
“There’s no real secret. We’re just going through some adversity right now,” leading scorer Harrison Barnes admitted after posting a team-high 28 points on 12-of-24 shooting in Wednesday’s loss. “I think we caught a little bit of a break with J.J. You know, he thought it was his Achilles on the court, and then we found out it was his calf, so that’s good. But we’ve just got to keep fighting. I mean, we’re putting ourselves in position to win. … We’ve just got to be better in that situation, but we didn’t have a great first half. We battled back, we got right there, and we had a great opportunity to win. So, coming back home against Memphis, it’s a must-win game.”
Forced to leave TD Garden in a walking boot, Barea admits that he was pleased to learn that the injury wasn’t to his Achilles. However, with his team in need of every healthy body available, the 10-year veteran couldn’t deny his disappointment after learning that he’ll be forced to miss time.
Barea has filled up the stat sheet during the early stage of his 11th season, averaging 16.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists a game. He’ll now try to rehab his way back onto the court in time to assist in an early-season turnaround. That said, Barea admits that he will face an uphill battle in order to return to the court in the near future.
“It was awful. I never felt that before playing in my basketball career,” Barea said of the injury. “I thought it was the Achilles. The little bit of good news is it’s the calf. Hopefully I don’t need surgery or anything, but we’ve just got to wait. I never felt that feeling before, so hopefully it’s not that bad.
“You know, it’s been a tough start and frustrating,” he added. “You know, I was playing good. I know I was playing a lot, but I was playing good. I was helping the team out, and (Wednesday) we finally got in a rhythm there at the end and I go down. So, yeah, we’re going to do a good job of staying together. We’ve got a good coaching staff and good players, so we’re going to stay together, try to fight this out and get back strong.”
Seeing Barea go down with 7:37 remaining in Wednesday’s game, the Mavericks would begin to run out of steam after a valiant comeback in the second half. Still, according to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, there are positives that the team can carry forward in order to bounce back at home.
Trailing 39-31 at the halftime intermission, the Mavericks were outshot by the Celtics from the field through two quarters, 39.5 percent to 31.1 percent. The Celtics also held a 33-20 rebounding advantage, overcoming their nine turnovers in the first half with a dominance on the glass. Boston’s 43.4 percent shooting then just slightly bettered Dallas’ 41 percent at the other end to conclude the night, adding a 53-32 rebounding edge to overcome 19 turnovers. And after seeing his team battle against the odds to remain competitive, Carlisle says the Mavericks will have something to build on entering Friday night’s matchup against Memphis.
“Our level of force, I think, was better in the second half. Our defense was better, which got us into some transition situations. And Barnes carried a big load for us offensively in the second half,” Carlisle confessed. “I really loved our fight, particularly in the second half, and we’ve just got to stay with it.”
Note: The Mavericks will now return to American Airlines Center on Friday, hosting the Memphis Grizzlies. That game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
Devin Harris (right great toe sprain) — out
J.J. Barea (left calf strain) — out
Deron Williams (left calf strain) — questionable
Dirk Nowitzki (right Achilles soreness) — questionable