With 11X All-Star Dirk Nowitzki still recovering from an off-season knee surgery, the Mavs have struggled to find a team identity and consistent production.
Coach Rick Carlisle has tinkered with his player rotations as well as his starting five, inserting 11 different guys from his roster in this first third of the schedule.
Dallas is searching for an effective formula on both offense and defense. They currently rank 27th in the NBA in points allowed at 101.5 per game.
On the other bench, the Heat have played well so far, notwithstanding a few baffling losses. They hit the road after playing 10 of their last 11 games at home.
King James leads the team in points, boards and dimes with 25.2, 8.5 and 6.9 respectively. The 3X league MVP has scored at least 20 points in each of Miami’s 22 games, the first player to do so since Karl Malone in the 1989-90 season.
The rest of the Heat’s Big 3, D-Wade and Chris Bosh, are still competing at All-Star levels. With the off-season addition of the all-time 3-point champ Ray Allen coming off the bench, many hoops commentators predicted a possible 70-win season for coach Erik Spoelstra’s squad.
Miami is up there at 4th in the league in scoring with 103.1 ppg. But they are getting crushed on the boards, ranking second to last in the league at 38.3 rpg.
The Heat last played on Tuesday night in South Beach where they beat Minnesota 103-92 behind LeBron’s 22 points, 11 assists, 6 boards and 4 blocks. The Mav’s most recent 48 was Tuesday in Big D as they bested the 76ers 107-100.
First-year Maverick guard O.J. Mayo led the team with 26 points, 8 assists and 3 steals. With Dirk out, Mayo has assumed the alpha scorer role, averaging 20.6 ppg, and has started all 25 games.
Tune in to TNT tonight at 9:30 PM ET to watch the last two NBA champions and 2011 Finals combatants do battle deep in the heart of Texas.