Every head coach in the NBA can prescribe to this theory and every fan saw it coming long before the lockout even concluded:
Poor conditioning is killing the flow and smooth play of games on a nightly basis.
No team is feeling those tired legs these days more than the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. Last week Dirk Nowitzki was the first to admit he was no where near 100% after going 2-10 in a preseason game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Now newcomer Delonte West can only agree as the Mavs search for their first win of the year.
“Everything is coming down to conditioning and getting in better shape,” said West, with Dallas looking to avoid starting the season 0-3 when they face the Thunder (who beat them twice in the preseason) on Thursday night.
“That’s what we don’t have right now…We’re not getting that second and third effort. If one link of the chain breaks down the unit breaks down.”
The wheels haven’t exactly fallen off so don’t expect the bandwagon to lighten up yet, but it’s not looking good in “Big D” right now. While pundits point out that the loss of key players like Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea and DeShawn Stevenson is putting a kink in Dallas first two games of the season, the real talk around the Mavs’ locker room always goes back to conditioning and seems to be the main cause of Dallas stumbling out of the gate.
Just ask Chandler.
“It’s almost expected that they get off to a slow start. I don’t believe this is going to continue, honestly. They’re too good not to start beating some teams. But I knew a tough start was going to happen,” the new Knick told NBA.com.
Chandler did mention the lack of fire power is no doubt hurting the Mavs, whom he believes are looking ahead to the 2012 offseason and making a run at both Dwight Howard and Deron Williams. But it ultimately came back around to the slow start.
“It’s difficult to watch them going through what they’re going through.”
That’s what a long work stoppage does to players who are getting up there in age — Rick Carlisle’s starting lineup averages 34 years old and both Lamar Odom (32) and Vince Carter (34) aren’t getting any younger either. Then you have to factor in the compact schedule with the Mavs facing an upcoming slate which has them play 7 games in 10 days.
Translation: no rest for the weary.
“It’s like we were out there in quicksand and today the coaching staff did a great job of keeping our feet moving,” told the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday. “We expect bigger and better things out of ourselves. And we’re not going to dwell on those first two games.”
Overcoming tired legs or grabbing a quick second-wind is one thing, but playing against history is another story.
The last NBA champs to lose their first two games the following season were the 2002-03 Los Angeles Lakers and no defending champion team has opened their season 0-3 since the 1969-70 Boston Celtics lost four straight.
No pressure Dallas.