Daniel Christian: Has the team performed better or worse since the Rondo acquisition? How has he meshed with the team, and specifically backcourt-mate Monta Ellis?
Kate Crawford: I think they’re better, but I’m not totally confident in that assessment. Before Rondo, the Mavericks had the number one offense and number 20 defense; now they have the number four defense and the number 11 offense. But despite the huge change in rankings, the defensive improvement hasn’t quite offset the hit the offense took since acquiring Rondo, and Dallas’ net rating has gone down several points since the trade. Also, before the trade, the Mavericks won more than 70 percent of their games, and that’s dropped to 62.5 percent.
Of course, that’s also thanks to a tougher schedule during the second half of the season and probably due in part to some expected regression, considering how hot these guys started out offensively, so I don’t think it’s fair to blame Rondo or say that he’s not contributing to the team.
Still, the Mavericks are in decent shape in the standings despite all of this, and while the Rondo-Carlisle spat is a little troubling, I think most of us hope he’ll continue to settle in. That trade also left the Mavericks seriously vulnerable when it came to back-up big men, and signing Amar’e Stoudemire could be a big lift there.
DC: Chandler Parsons is out tonight. What does that mean for the Mavericks? What will they miss about him for this game?
KC: Three point shooting, for sure. This team is not great at perimeter shooting and Parsons being out definitely won’t help.
DC: How much longer do you think the window of contention will be open for this team? Do they fall off when Dirk falls off? What does the future look like?
KC: I think it’s hard to say right now. Dirk hasn’t had the best year, and the Mavs are still hanging in there despite a very tough Western Conference, but I was a little more optimistic about the future over the summer when the Mavericks got younger, swapping Vince Carter and Shawn Marion for Parsons and Al-Farouq Aminu. I was disappointed when Brandan Wright was traded, because as good as Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire are, that was a lot of young talent to see leaving the team. Plus, Dallas’ free agent situation in terms of both Monta and Rondo seems pretty uncertain right now. This team certainly has the potential to compete as Dirk falls off, but next year's team could look much different than this year's.
DC: What’s your prediction for tonight’s game? Who wins and why?
KC: I don’t want to be overly pessimistic, but I think if Dallas is playing the best team in the Eastern Conference on the road without Parsons and Rondo (the team just announced a one-game suspension) on the second night of a back-to-back… well, seems like it might take more than a Pero Antic slump to get the Mavericks out of this one with a win. The bench came through big time last night against Toronto, but asking them to do that two nights in a row might be a bit much.