The Theme: Not looking ahead.
Mavs fans are blessed (cursed?) this Thanksgiving week with a series of marquee matchups against powerhouse teams.
But … the Pistons are not among them.
After tonight's meeting with Detroit at the AAC, the Mavs continue a four-games-in-five-nights stretch that includes visits to OKC and to San Antonio and then a Saturday night game back in Dallas against the Heat.
If you are a ticket-buyer, you can be forgiven for looking ahead … for saving up your pennies to get into the big game. If you are the Mavs, you are not good enough – not consistently good enough – to do any such thing.
The Quote: "We've got to get back to playing better at home. That's one of our big goals right now, to bring some consistency back to how we're playing at home." – Mavs coach Rick Carlisle.
The Pistons' Number: Detroit is coming off a 32-win season and is in last place in its division. But since starting the season 0-5, the Pistons have gone 5-3 in the last eight.
The Mavs' Number: Dallas' pace is too slow and its scoring is down considerably. But the organization is confident that will come around. Meanwhile, the major reason Dallas is as good as 8-4 is because of its defense, which is the NBA's fourth-best scoring unit, allowing just over 92 points per game. Dallas has held seven straight opponents to fewer than 100 points.
The Key: Dallas has spent a considerable amount of time in recent days working in practice on defensive rebounding while in the zone … and the Mavs have spent a considerable amount of time talking about the issue in the media, too.
Tonight is a perfect storm on the issue: The Mavs are just two games removed from having given up 25 second-chance points to the Bulls, all due to Chicago's work on the offensive boards. And tonight, along comes a Detroit team led by center Ben Wallace, for 15 seasons one of the NBA's pre-eminent rebounders.
To ask Tyson Chandler to do all of this alone is to ask too much. On paper and throughout their careers, guys like Nowitzki, Kidd and Marion have been standout rebounders in terms of their positions. Standout-level work will be required tonight.
The History: The Mavericks have won six of the last seven meetings with the Pistons, taking three straight in Dallas.
Detroit vs. Dallas starters … at PG, Rodney Stuckey and Jason Kidd … at SG, Rip Hamilton and DeShawn Stevenson … at SF, Tayshaun Prince and Caron Butler … at PF, Jason Maxiell and Dirk Nowitzki … and at C, Ben Wallace and Tyson Chandler.