Monday Morning Donuts: Inside The Mavs

Monday Morning Mavs Donuts: If you are joining up at and you are looking forward to Celtics-Mavs, I've got a treat for you … Right now, the problem with Dallas' bench has nothing to do with "accepting roles.'' … Am I too hard on Carlisle and SmallBall? Coop checks in with an insightful number … More Ajinca explanation … The Celtics in town tonight and has you covered!

DONUT 1: Let's begin with tonight, Celtics at Mavs, and for Boston, the development from "The Big 3'' to "The Big 3+1''.

Point guard Rajon Rondo,'' Rick Carlisle says, "is their key facilitator. Containing him is a priority. The area he impacts the game is with his defense. He was a league leader in steals, last year. And so, you've got to have an awareness of where he's at on the court.

"We are going to have a lot of different guys guarding him.''

May I suggest that one of those different guys, at some point, be rookie Dominique Jones?

I know it's early. And I'm still talking about spoon-feeding minutes. But maybe tonight, DoJo – who is averaging a modest eight minutes per game -- gets two spoonfuls?

Kidd's craftiness might work in spurts. Jason Terry is giving defensive effort. Barea? Don't even get me started. And of course, Dallas will be heavily reliant on the zone tonight.

But in terms of physical ability, the Mavs have somebody on their roster who might be deserving of a glimpse here.

DoJo vs. Rondo, anybody?

DONUT 2: By the way: Carlisle choice of the word "facilitator'' for Rondo unintentionally sells the kid way short.

Rondo had 10 assists in last night's Celtics win at OKC. That's a "facilitator,'' all right, and Rondo is averaging almost 15 assists per so far this year for 6-1 Boston.

But I always hear the word "facilitator'' being used in the same way I use "bus driver.'' And Rondo is more than a bus driver. He's averaging 11 points per, he's pulling down 5.4 rebounds, that 15/4 assist-to-turnover ratio is sweet, he's a fine defender and he controls the pace of a game.

He's a star … one of at least four Celtics worthy of the tag.

DONUT 3: The Mavs are 3-2 and just 1-2 at home. So at least they haven't "peaked.''

That's the even-keel approach of Dirk Nowitzki, and of course, this ain't his first rodeo. So let's listen:

"We'd be in trouble if we already had things figured out,'' The UberMan says, "because we'd be peaking way too early I think all the good teams are going to work through some stuff early in the season. We've shown some good signs and we've shown some signs that were not so good. We've just got to keep on working.''

Are we calmed down yet?

DONUT 4: Rick Carlisle recently offered an assessment of Shawn Marion intended to make us all feel good about The Matrix' "role acceptance'':

"His approach,'' Rick said, "has been awesome. I think a guy like that, that's been a franchise player, to accept this type of role is so important for us, not just in terms of what happens between the lines, but to the soul of the team, the spirit of sacrifice and trying to win at any cost this year."

Carlisle added: "I've always had great respect for Shawn, but this month has led me to a new level of respect for him."

I'm into finding the "soul of the team''; honestly, as you may have noticed for the 11-year existence of, I am more interested in "soul'' than I am in plus/minus. (Which is why we have big brains like David Lord, Michael Dugat and Kammrath on-staff.)

But here's the thing about Marion and the Dallas supporting cast right now:

It's not about the bench accepting his role; Marion has been a leader there.

It's not about the guys who make up the supporting cast knowing their roles; Dallas' starting lineup is pretty locked in for now.

No, it's about the supporting cast – specifically the bench – performing as if they have any clue as to what the hell they are supposed to be doing.

DONUT 5: The shortcut source to Mavs info: The whole Mavs family is included in our Mavs Twitterverse

... Dirk, Cuban, Followill, Chandler, Fish, Jet, Skin, David Lord, Dugat, JJB, Caron, Marion ... come join us!

May I also politely invite you to check out Boards (sign up! It's free!) … and momentarily, this morning, I've going to give you a darn good Mavs-vs.-Celtics reason to be signed up!

DONUT 6: A smart member makes a keen observation in trying to help me explain why Dallas didn't exercise the option on backup-backup center Alexis Ajinca, the 7-foot Frenchman who I know for a fact the staff sees great promise in…. and who I know is involved in a comfy relationship in Dallas, what with the other French cats and his agent being close to Dallas, too.

How about this: Dallas option year was declined because of that comfort? Maybe the Mavs see ‘Lex's value this year as an expiring-contract trade chip (he'd make a nice throw-in) … but with no team option for his future team, he'd be free to boomerang right back to Dallas as a summer free agent.

DONUT 7: I said it before the start of the Rockets season. I am saying it again now, without knowing what the future brings. But I'm glad to see the mainstream media jumped on the issue when Houston trudged to its 0-4 start:

The egg-shell participation in games of Yao Ming does not work. Pulling him out because he's "exceeded his pitch count,'' regardless of circumstances, is suicide.

If he's ready to play, play him. If he's too fragile to play, bubble-wrap him and move on.

DONUT 8: ESPN's Colin Cowherd screams that John Wall shouldn't dance and that Cliff Lee lost Rangers games on purpose. … and I see a pattern here.

I know outrageousness is how some of my ESPN brothers got and keep their jobs. And I know that as re-launches today with some new-and-improved stuff, it might behoove me in terms of traffic to break the story that Caron Butler is a space alien from Mars who is secretly dating Lady Gaga. …

But to borrow a line: Colin Cowherd is the Armond White of sports pundits. (And yes, educated reader, I work on the assumption that y'all know who Armond White is.)

DONUT 9: Jason Terry had the highest scoring first half of his career on Saturday against the Nugz, with 23 points on 9-of-10 shooting. And then … we never saw him do another thing again all game.

This can be taken as an indictment of Jet's mercurial nature as a player, yes. But it's something more, something I've been whelping about for a decade now:

The Mavs don't have the personnel to get "easy baskets.''

It's Jet curling off a screen for an off-balance 20-footer. It's Dirk with the patented one-legged Euro lean-back. It's "predictable'' (a Mavs theme of the week), but it's something worse than that.

It's hard.

Because it's not layups and dunks and interior pounding and creativity that leads to plunges to the rim.

The Mavs score, yes. But they don't make it look easy.

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DONUT 11: Am I too hard on Rick Carlisle and SmallBall?

The coach defended the concept over the weekend, and I reacted harshly. I think The 3-PG Attack (featuring Kidd with Jet and JJB) is an awful idea. … a bowing of Dallas' strength to a smallish opponent's weakness.

I hate it.

But let's grant this much to Rick: While he is defending the failed idea … he actually hasn't done it yet.

Our man Chuck Cooperstein checks in with this:

"Fish, you are getting what you want,'' Coop tells me. "In the first five games of this season, Rick has had a center in the game for at least 43 minutes out of every 48-minute game. He has never played a ‘small lineup' in any key situation, such as the fourth quarters. Maybe Rick is explaining something that might happen in the future. But so far, he's going big, as you are preaching.''

DONUT 12: Boston played (and won) last night in OKC. Second night of a road b2b should mean a nice advantage for the Mavs … and I'd actually believe what I wrote there had the Nuggets not just blown into town Saturday after having themselves played 24 hours earlier and casting doubt on Dallas' ability to take advantage of such advantages.

DONUT 13: See that story about 'Your Chance To Win Mavs-Celtics Tix Tonite? They are lower-bowl and in appreciation of your love for the Mavs ... and all you have to do is get registered on Boards!

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