Mavs-Jazz Preview: Recover, We Must

 Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Note: This post originally appeared on MavsFanatic.com

Dallas, TX—Recover, we must. After a horrific game on Star Wars Night at the American Airlines Center, the Mavs will attempt to pick up their collective heads and salvage the shattered remains of the players left on the roster, after getting run off their own court during a 115-98 loss to Blake Griffin-less Los Angeles Clippers on Monday Night.

On Wednesday, Feb. 11, the Dallas Mavericks (35-19) have an opportunity to close out the first two-thirds of the season on a high note, when they battle the Utah Jazz (19-33) at 7:30 p.m. CT in Dallas.

Injuries, Injuries and More Injuries

According to Mavs Coach Rick Carlisle, center Tyson Chandler will not play against the Jazz due to an ankle sprain; although the Mavs do not believe the injury is serious. Starting shooting guard Monta Ellis is a game-time decision with a hip injury, but the expectation seems to be that he will play with the All-Star break around the corner and his 218-consecutive game streak on the line. Starting point guard Rajon Rondo remains out with orbital fractures to his face and appears to be on the upswing and in good spirits. He was seen hanging out and eating popcorn in the Mavs locker room prior to their game against the Clippers. Rondo was also able to participate in Mavs shootaround, albeit in limited fashion.

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AP Photo/LM Otero

Mavs Welcome Back Bernard James

The Mavs announced Wednesday morning they have signed Bernard James to a 10-day contract. He went through Mavs shootaround this morning and will play tonight. In 26 games with the Shanghai Dongfang Sharks this season, James averaged 19.1 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.0 blocks. The Mavs are hoping James will be cleared to play in time for their match up with the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night at the AAC. “We’re hoping to, but it’s not guaranteed,” Carlisle said. “If we can get it done with ‘Sarge,’ he can step in and give us some minutes.”

Meanwhile, the Mavs are still expected to sign Jermaine O’Neal who is continuing to do private workouts in his Southlake home while working back into basketball shape; however, he isn’t expected to join the team until after the All-Star break. Amar’e Stoudemire continues to be a secondary and supplementary answer for the Mavs in their search for a back-up big man, with Greg Smith being the odd man out.

 More on what Bernard James brings to the Mavs here by Staff Writer Terence Huie

Match Up at Hand

At this point, the primary mission couldn’t be clearer: just get to the All-Star break.

The Mavs are hurting both physically and mentally and the All-Star break couldn’t have come at a better time. Thankfully, the Mavs are posed with a challenge they are capable of stepping up to. They will face a team in the Jazz that they have dominated in their first two meetings this season. This is the third of four match-ups between the two teams, with Dallas taking the first two games in superior fashion by 18 and 23 points, respectively. As always, the key to success will be how the Mavs handle their P’s and Q’s on the defensive end of the floor, after the Jazz shot 43.0 percent from the field in their first two meetings against the Mavs. They will, of course, have to do so without two of their best defensive players in Rondo and Tyson Chandler.

“We’ve just got to be persistent, we’ve got to scramble, and we’ve just got to find a way,” said Carlisle [on the Mavs defensive plan going forward]. “That’s what it comes down to. We’ll see where we are with our injury situation… In the meantime, we’ve got a deep bench. We’ve got other guys that we have a lot of belief in.”

One of the guys that Carlisle continues to believe in is Charlie Villanueva, who cashed-in on his opportunity when Monta and Tyson went down on Monday night, with a season-high 26 points on nine of 11 shooting, including five of seven from three, in 23 minutes of play.

“I just got the opportunity to make some shots and took advantage of it,’’ said Villanueva. “Obviously it hurts when two of your main guys go down, but that’s part of the game. Every team goes through things like that, and like I said, other people have to step up and be ready to play,” he said.

Villanueva has continued to show he can answer the call when given the opportunity on the offensive end, but it’s how he responds defensively that will be the determining factor for him in carving out a regular role in the Mavs rotation. If he can provide “instant defense,” along with defensive specialist Al Farouq-Aminu, the Mavs will find themselves in a very capable position to escape their last game before the All-Star break with an encouraging win.

Series

While the Jazz lead the all-time series 89-68, the Mavs have won the previous eight meetings between the clubs. Additionally, the Mavs have won 22 of the last 25 regular-season meetings in Dallas.

NBA News and Notes

  • Mavs starting small forward Chandler Parsons will participate in the NBA’s first-ever fashion show at All-Star Weekend. It will air Feb. 14 at 5:30 p.m. CT on TNT.
  • This is the last game the Mavs will play before the All-Star break, with their next game coming against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday, Feb. 19 in Oklahoma City.
  • Key Dates:
    • February  19 — The NBA Trade deadline (2 p.m. CT)
    • March 1 — Playoff Eligibility Waiver Deadline
    • April 15 — Last Day of 2014-15 Regular Season
    • April 18 — 2015 NBA Playoffs begin

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