mark_cuban_01This edition of “Fo’ with the Foes” — Philadunkia’s advanced scouting series which with the help of an accomplished journalist from around the NBA beat or blog world, previews upcoming 76ers opponents — features tonight’s opponent, the deep and star studded Dallas Mavericks who are the foes for game two of this four game road trip. 

This is going to be a nearly impossible game for the Sixers to win.  The 76ers are short-handed with only 10 players available, they played and lost in San Antonio last night and the Iverson drama is in full effect which has to be a distraction.  On top of all of that, tonight’s opponent, the Dallas Mavericks are a very good squad and at 12-5, are one of the best teams in the deep Western Conference.  

For a little more insight into the Mavs team the Sixers face tonight, we turn to our man Rob Mahoney from to answer two questions on the Mavs from us here at Philadunkia as well as provide us with two points of analysis on this Dallas squad from an insider’s perspective.

Philadunkia :  Obviously we don’t get to watch every Mavs game, but Dirk seems to be playing like a man with a chip on his shoulder this season.  What are your thoughts on Dirk’s efforts in 2009-10 so far?

Rob Mahoney Nowitzki has been absolutely terrific, and in typical Dirk fashion, he’s unveiled new facets of his game to start the season. Dirk’s shot has come along slowly to start the season (possibly due to taking the summer off for essentially the first time in his career), but he still scores on an elite level. That’s truly a credit to Dirk’s versatility; even though the midrange jumpers, the staple of Dirk’s offensive game, aren’t falling, he’s finding new ways to rack up the points.

Point of Analysis from Rob Mahoney @ : 

1)  Those offensive strides have gone hand-in-hand with a much improved team defense from the Mavs, and improved individual defensive displays from Dirk. Though Nowitzki has no business guarding quicker threats on the perimeter, he’s plenty capable of providing utility as a defensive big man. You certainly won’t mistake Dirk for KG, but Nowitzki has quietly put up some pretty impressive defensive performances. He’s contesting shots (even as a help defender, which is new), he’s bodying people up in the post despite dropping 15 pounds in the offseason, and he’s staying out of foul trouble. The Mavs as a team may be stretched thin with the absences of Erick Dampier, Josh Howard, and until recently, Shawn Marion and Tim Thomas, but there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the Dallas D. Dirk’s focus on that end is certainly one of them.


Philadunkia :  In our opinion, the Mavs are flying under the radar this season in the West  and we don’t hear much national talk about them as a title contender.  As someone who watches them very closely, what has been the most pleasant surprise so far in 2009-10 for you with the Mavs?

Rob Mahoney @ :  The most pleasant surprise is undoubtedly the Mavs’ spectacular rookie, Rodrigue Beaubois. As a late first rounder with just a bit of professional experience in Europe, Beaubois figured to be a great talent, but a bit of a project. I expected a year of spot contributions or a D-League assignment given the Mavs’ established point guard rotation of Jason Kidd and J.J. Barea, but Beaubois has taken the team and the fan base by storm. He’s not a perfect player and he has plenty of learning to do, but Roddy’s ability to play off the ball has been an unexpected plus. On top of that, Beaubois may some day be the lockdown point guard defender that the Mavericks so desperately need, and he shows flashes of that ability against the league’s elite points. He’s not there yet, but with a ridiculous wingspan (6’9.75”, despite just being 6’2”), quick feet (he ranked 3rd in the Draft Combine’s agility test), and a great ability to contest shots (39” vertical, 2nd best at the Combine), he has all the tools necessary to make the leap.

Point of Analysis from Rob Mahoney @ :

2)  Beaubois has only logged significant floor time because of this year’s big disappointment: injuries. The “real” Mavs have yet to play a full game together, and Josh Howard has only played a game and a half this season. Throw in some tweaks for Shawn Marion and Quinton Ross, a recovery from surgery for Tim Thomas, and a mysterious illness (that has yet to be disclosed by team officials) for Erick Dampier, and the rotation has been jumbled to say the least. All of the roster versatility at Rick Carlisle’s disposal has been negated by bad luck, and as a result, J.J. Barea and Kris Humphries have been forced into larger roles than many anticipated. Both are fine role players, but they do have their limitations. Unfortunately for the Mavs, those limitations have translated to some difficulties on either end of the court on various nights, and they make Mavs fans pine for a Dampier screen or a Howard runner.

Our thanks to Rob Mahoney for his insights.

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