Mavs Talk Is Cheap, But Defensive Start Isn't

Over the years, no good team has talked more about improving on defense than the Mavericks … maybe because no good team has needed so badly to improve. But talk was cheap and defense was inconsistent. This year's Mavs, however, are on the verge of doing something on the defensive end that is unprecedented in franchise history … and digs up the numbers:

By starting off this season on a defensive tear the Mavs have matched their longest streak in franchise history of consecutive games of holding their opponent under 40 percent in field-goal shooting.

This is the ninth time the Mavs have had such a three-game streak in franchise history. (The last time was from 11/18/2008 to 11/21/2008.) If the Mavs accomplish this difficult task again in Denver on Wednesday – a challenge, to be sure -- it will be the first time in franchise history that a Mavs team has held their opponent under 40-percent shooting four games in a row.

The NBA record for this – not that we're suggesting Dallas is a threat here! – is eight games, done three times by the Spurs (1998, 2001, 2003) and once by the Knicks (1999). … two franchises with storied defensive histories.

After this weekend, the 2-1 Mavs also currently lead the NBA in this young season in defensive FG percentage, allowing their opponents to only shoot a miserable 37.4 percent from the floor.

So talk is still cheap … but at least, as our colleague Earl K. Sneed chased down some quotes in LA after Sunday's win over the Clippers … the talk is backed up with performance.

"Everybody puts so much emphasis on scoring all the time and it's good to do, but energy, defending and helping your teammates out makes the game so much easier and free-flowing," said Shawn Marion, over the course of his career a premier defender. "Everybody is helping each other, communicating and talking. And you can just see that it's a whole different team out there."

Added center Brendan Haywood: "We know to be a championship-level team we have to be better on the defensive end. Coming into training camp, Coach stressed defense and I think we're playing better team defense as a whole unit."

Defense was indeed a point of emphasis in training camp and a much-discussed issue by everyone all the way down to Jason Terry, a notoriously … um … offensive-minded defender… But when is it not emphasized in camp and discussed in preseason?

Through three games, Dallas is putting its defense where its mouth is.

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