After injury-riddled ’16-17 season, Mavs’ J.J. Barea hopes to produce bounce-back year

DALLAS — After being forced to miss much of the 2016-17 schedule due to a nagging left calf injury, Dallas Mavericks veteran guard J.J. Barea hopes that a summer of rest serves him well heading into the upcoming season.

Last season, Barea played in just 35 games while battling through the lingering calf injury to average 10.9 points, 2.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists during 22.0 minutes per outing. He also showed what he could do when he was available for the Mavericks last season, connecting on 41.4 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from behind the three-point arc while operating as one of the team’s top playmakers off the bench. However, after playing in the fewest games since making just 33 appearances during his rookie year, Barea says he expects to give his team much more of a lift this season.

“You know, personally it was tough,” the cat-quick guard admitted after the conclusion of the ’16-17 season. “I’ve never been through what I went through (last season), but I learned a lot. I learned a lot about my injuries and about my calves, but I was able to finish healthy. … I’m going to be able to really work more on my body than basketball. With basketball, I think I’m in a good place and in a good rhythm knowing the game. So, I’ve just got to get to work on my body and be able to have a good year next year.”

Barea averaged 16.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists while competing in nine of the Mavericks’ first 10 games last season, picking up where he left off at after a career-best ’15-16 campaign. He was then forced out of the lineup after straining his calf during a 90-83 defeat in Boston on Nov. 16, setting the stage for a injury-riddled season.

All told, Barea missed 24 of 26 games from Nov. 18 to Jan. 5 before going down again during a 112-107 loss to Utah on Jan. 20. He later returned after sitting out 20 consecutive games, tallying nine points and three assists in 14 minutes during a 105-96 home win over Brooklyn on March 9. The 11-year veteran played in 17 of the final 19 games from there, including a 111-104 win in Brooklyn on March 19 in which he registered 20 points and seven assists. And after averaging 12.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists during five games in the month of April, Barea vows to come back stronger this season while serving as a mentor for his young teammates.

“When it happens, I’ve just got to be a little bit more patient. But hopefully I’m going to work on it, so it won’t happen again and I can go from there,” Barea said while putting his previous injuries behind him. “You know, I wanted to finish the year strong and be out there doing my thing again, so I could go into the summer a little bit more at ease. But anytime I could go out there and help the team out as much as I could, just being out there with them and finishing the year out was good for me.

“Now, for me, I always just want to be out there and produce on the court. But outside the court, just helping out and keeping (younger teammates) positive. With everything I went through early, I just want to show them things to do and stuff like that. Just helping as much as I can.”

After battling nagging calf injury all season, Mavs’ J.J. Barea looks forward to healthy summer

DALLAS — Hampered by a nagging left calf injury that sidelined him for much of the 2016-17 season, veteran point guard J.J. Barea still found a way to make an impact for the Dallas Mavericks on and off the court.

This season, Barea played in just 35 games while battling through the lingering calf injury, averaging 10.9 points, 2.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists during 22.0 minutes per outing. He also connected on 41.4 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from behind the three-point arc, emerging once again as one of the Mavs’ best playmakers off the bench. But after playing the fewest amount of games since making 33 appearances his rookie season, the 11-year veteran reflected on his up-and-down ’16-17 campaign.

“You know, personally, it was tough. I’ve never went through what I went through this year, but I learned a lot,” Barea said after the conclusion of the season. “I learned a lot about my injury and my calf, but I was able to finish healthy. I’m going to be able to have a good summer, and I’m going to really work more on my body than basketball. Basketball, I think, I’m in a good place and in a good rhythm. Knowing the game, I’ve just got to really work on my body, and I have to be able to have a good year next year.

“I learned things I’ve got to do for it not to happen again. When it does, I’ve got to be a little more patient. But hopefully I’m going to work on it, so we’ll go from there.”

The 32-year-old Barea returned to the lineup and tried to help the Mavericks finish the season strong with nine points and three assists in 14 minutes during a 105-96 home win over Brooklyn on March 9 after missing the previous 20 games. He also struggled through a stint when a previous injury to the same calf forced the undersized floor general to miss 24 of 26 games from Nov. 18 to Jan. 5. But despite seeing the Mavs miss out on the playoffs following a 33-49 season, Barea says it was rewarding to battle with his teammates to close the grueling 82-game schedule.

Barea averaged 16.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 5.4 assists while competing in nine of the Mavericks’ first 10 games, picking up where he left off at after a stellar year during the ’15-16 season. He then found himself out of the lineup after straining the calf during a 90-83 defeat in Boston on Nov. 16. Barea returned to the lineup to play in 17 of the final 19 games, highlighted by a 20-point, seven-assist outing during a 111-104 win in Brooklyn on March 19. And after averaging 12.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists during five games in April, Barea was excited to head into the offseason on a high note.

“It was huge. You know, I wanted to finish the year strong and be out there doing my thing again, so I could go into the summer a little bit more at ease. I could go out there and help the team out as much as I can. We tried there at the end and wasn’t able to (make the playoffs), but just to be out there and finishing the year was good for me,” Barea said of his late surge to end the season.

Despite being in and out of the lineup due to the calf injury this season, Barea still found a way to make an impact by serving as a mentor for the team’s young guards in the locker room.

Barea took undrafted rookie Yogi Ferrell and 26-year-old combo guard Seth Curry under his wings to help the young floor generals navigate through their first season with the Mavericks. He also gave the duo plenty of added motivation throughout the season, challenging both to produce at a high level in his absence. Barea now sees his mentorship being beneficial this summer. With that said, Barea looks forward to joining forces with Ferrell and Curry next season as the Mavericks try to return to prominence with another playoff push.

“It’s big. With Yogi and Seth, I think we’ve got a good young group. They’re ready to learn, and they’re going to work hard. It’s going to be a team thing. And then the point guards, we’re going to have three to four, and we’ve got to do it together,” Barea explained.

He added: “Now, for me, I always try to produce on the court. But also off the court, I try to help [Curry and Ferrell] out and keep them positive. With everything I went through early, I show them things to do and stuff like that, and I just help them as much as I can.”

After injury-riddled season, J.J. Barea came to Mavs’ rescue against Nets

Postgame: J.J. Barea

Mavs G J.J. Barea weighs in on Sunday's win over Brooklyn.

DALLAS — Although he has admittedly been hampered by a nagging left calf injury throughout the 2016-17 season, veteran point guard J.J. Barea showed how important he is to the Dallas Mavericks’ success during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 111-104 victory in Brooklyn.

Scoring 11 of his 20 points off the bench during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game, Barea put the Mavericks (30-39) on his back late to boost the team to a much-needed victory. The 32-year-old lead guard also had a stretch of nine straight points for the team during the period, finishing with a perfect 5-for-5 shooting in the quarter as the Mavs held off the Nets late. And after battling his way back to the court from a lingering calf injury twice this season, Barea admitted that contributing to Sunday’s win was personally rewarding.

“I was being aggressive,” Barea modestly said after his scoring explosion during Sunday’s victory. “I knew [Nets center Brook Lopez] was staying down and I couldn’t get the lobs to (Nerlens) Noel, so I was looking for my midrange and it was working. I stayed aggressive on those, and [Noel] was setting some good screens on me. And I was able to knock it down.

“You know, it’s been a tough year for myself, but I’ve stayed with it. I love to play this game, especially in the fourth quarter of a game like that, so it’s been a lot of practice. I’ve got a good group of coaches that believe in me and teammates, so it makes it a lot easier.”

On the season, Barea has averaged 11.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists an outing, appearing in just 24 games while battling his way through a left calf strain. He’s also shot 42 percent from the field and 33 percent from three-point range, giving the Mavericks a reliable offensive threat off the bench when he’s been available.

Barea has also seen a steady increase in production and playing time during the last six outings after missing 20 straight games from Jan. 22 to March 7. But after his breakout performance against the Nets, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle says the goal is simply to keep Barea healthy for the remainder of the season.

“Well, he’s experienced, and even when he’s been out he’s kept himself ready by staying into it mentally,” Carlisle said while praising Barea’s play this season. “He’s kept his conditioning good, and he’s a guy that loves to play. He loves the game, and my hope is we can get him through these last 14 games healthy. That’s a really big thing. Get him to this summer where he can have a full summer to get ready for next year.”

Barea’s love of the big moment was on full display during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win as the Nets tried to rally from an 18-point deficit in front of their hometown fans. It also came to the delight of his teammates, who praised the veteran floor general’s aggressiveness following the win.

After the Nets charged within one on Spencer Dinwiddie’s driving score, Barea answered with a timely jumper at the other end to make the margin four, 96-92, with 4:46 remaining. Barea answered another score by Lopez to keep the lead at four and Nets guard Randy Foye’s basket later in the period, draining a midrange jumper at the other end to keep Brooklyn at bay. Barea then delivered a dagger to officially close the door on the Nets by drilling a three-pointer to put the Mavericks up 103-96 with just 2:15 remaining on the game clock. But after seeing the undersized guard also knock down clutch shots as his teammate with the Mavs’ 2011 NBA championship team, 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki says he wasn’t surprised by Barea’s performance down the stretch on Sunday.

“They were big shots,” Nowitzki explained. “You know, that’s what he does in the pick-and-roll. He’s great in pick-and-rolls, and they came off there. He made a couple from midrange, and they went under on that last one. He banged in a big three, and that kind of iced it for us there. You know, he’s made big plays for this franchise for a long, long time.”

“I mean, that was fully-healthy J.J., and that was great to see,” Mavs leading scorer Harrison Barnes added. “I mean, he was just coming off and knocking down shots. I mean, Dirk was hot, Wes (Matthews) was hot, but to have him pretty much carry us in that fourth quarter was big.”

Note: The Mavericks will now return to their home floor on Tuesday, hosting the Golden State Warriors. Golden State leads the season series 2-0. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. That game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

There’s no injuries to report at this time.

Game 64: Mavs vs. Nets

Highlights: Mavs vs. Nets

Check out all the top plays from Friday night's 105-96 win over the Brooklyn Nets.

Mavs’ J.J. Barea hopes to provide spark in his return to lineup Friday against Brooklyn

DALLAS — After playing the last 18 games without veteran guard J.J. Barea in the lineup due to a left calf strain, the Dallas Mavericks hope to receive a spark from the return of the cat-quick floor general Friday night against the Brooklyn Nets.

Looking to move to 4-0 on their current five-game homestand and beginning a rare home-home back-to-back that concludes Saturday night against Phoenix, the Mavericks (27-36) will gladly welcome back Barea following his lengthy layoff. The Mavs also hope the undersized guard can once again contribute in the second unit, looking for Barea to make up for lost time against the Nets (11-52) in front of the hometown fans. And although Barea is expected to be under a heavy minute restriction after battling back from his season-long calf issues, he vows to make an immediate impact with energetic play.

“I’m excited to be back,” Barea said after going through the Mavericks’ Thursday practice. “The team is playing great right now. We’ve got a good thing going here in practice and in the locker room, so I’m just happy to be back. There’s some exciting basketball in this town, and I just want to help the team out. Just come in with a lot of energy and try to give them a little extra.”

On the season, the 32-year-old Barea is averaging 12.2 points, 2.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists, appearing in just 18 games during his 11th professional campaign. He’s also shooting 42.2 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from three-point range during his limited time on the court, hoping to find a rhythm Friday in his return. But while trying to finish the season strong after a previous injury to the same calf forced him to miss 24 of 26 games from Nov. 18 to Jan. 5, Barea says he’s simply hoping to help the Mavericks make a playoff push during the final 19 outings.

“I feel really good,” Barea proclaimed. “We were more patient this time. There was a lot of extra stuff, so hopefully I’m able to start tomorrow and then finish the year strong.

“We’re moving the ball better, and we’re playing a little faster. We’re playing with more energy, so I think it’s a good fit for me. I’ll be ready. You know, go out there and give the bench a little bit more energy.”

Clocking 24.7 minutes an outing during his time on the court this season, Barea now figures to be placed on a strict minute restriction in his return. Still, according to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, the veteran guard is expected to be available for each of the next two games as the Mavericks try to complete an unbeaten homestand.

Carlisle also expects Barea to see time in both halves Friday night. But with his team eager to welcome Barea back into the fold, Carlisle knows the Mavs will have to monitor the speedy veteran’s minutes very closely.

“You know, he’s worked hard. This is the third time he’s gone through this, and we’ve obviously been cautious. We feel now is the right time, so he’ll play tomorrow,” Carlisle said of Barea’s pending return.

He added: “We’re going to have a minute limit to start with, and we’ll work from there. I don’t anticipate a thing where he’s going to play one half tomorrow or any of that stuff. I think the plan is to play him both halves, and then shut him down and get him ready for the next night, if all goes well.”

Note: The Mavericks will now return to their home floor on Friday night, hosting the Brooklyn Nets. The game will tip off at 8 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

There’s no injuries to report at this time.

Game 62: Mavs vs. Thunder

Highlights: Mavs vs. Thunder

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Game 61: Mavs vs. Grizzlies

Highlights: Mavs vs. Grizzlies

Nerlens Noel records his best game as a Maverick with 15 points and 17 rebounds, and Seth Curry adds 24 points in the Mavericks win over Memphis.