Panic, Precedent & Pistons In Mavs Donuts

'Rock-bottom,' says Dirk, reflecting on a 10-game run during which Dallas has lost eight and fallen from its perch alongside the Spurs and Lakers in the West. But where you might think there is "panic'' there is instead "precedent.'' Let's get ready for the 2 p.m. Mavs-Pistons coverage and let's do this thing in Donuts:

DONUT 1: In an exclusive weekend interview with DallasBasketball.com, Mavs GM Donnie Nelson expressed a view that hadn't been framed quite like this before:

"Hey, we're missing our 1, 2 and 3 guys, our 1, 2 and 3 scorers,'' Nelson said. "There was a plan and now we're scrambling to adjust. And we will.''

For those of you counting at home, 1, 2 and 3 means Dirk, Caron and Roddy B.

So what to do? "DO SOMETHING''?

Nah. Not yet.

DONUT 2: We know that as the Feb. 24 NBA trade deadline nears, the Mavericks will go into shopping mode – but that they can't make any true reassessments until their available pieces are in place. That means waiting on the electrifying Beaubois, who is inching back to his return to action.

Sorry. I am going to give you trade scoops with great frequency as things heat up (even as the Mavs ready to play at Detroit) … but the Mavs aren't going to give you an actual trade today.


Do know, though, that there is a way to stay on top of stuff like ...

*The inside stuff on Dallas' interest in Tayshaun Prince.

*A potential target such as Iggy and what Dallas really thinks there.

*Stephen Jackson views from Mavs HQ.

Devin Harris? It's an idea we break down here

*And then just this morning, our David Lord comes up with an inventive way to pursue Devin while helping the 'Melo-seeking Nuggets with their tax man problem.

(By the way: As we mention in the above story ... Did you see where 'Melo tossed Dallas' name into the mix as a suitor? Hmmmm. ...)

*And we can talk on DB.com Boards about Steiny-Mo throwing the J.R. Smith log on the fire, too.

Oh yeah: I'd love to invite you to support the site at a dime-a-day and check out our Premium Mavs package ... you'll get All-Access looks at games and practices (like this one, available to help you make up your mind!) and inside stuff from The 75-Member Staff, plus the Mavs players and coaches themselves. We've got inside videos, Premium stories on every other NFL, MLB and college team in the land, and special offers that get you FREE Mavs tickets and FREE signed Mavs merchadise, too! ... And wait until you see what we've got planned for Mavs-Lakers this week! I'm proud of what we do here and happy to have you involved at whatever level you choose!

DONUT 3: By the way: 2 p.m. today on FS Southwest, Ro Blackman, Emily Jones and yours truly get things started. We've got the pre- and postgame stuff with Mark and Bob and the Mavs and the Pistons in between.

Smile DONUT 4: So anyway …

Do yourself a favor and take a breath. Have an understanding that there are ebbs and flows during the marathon 82-game season, and that the experience can be soap-operatic … and while the fans and the media can get swept away by that emotion, the team cannot.

Examples of how this is working around the NBA in recent weeks?

DONUT 5: Consider the Celtics. From Christmas Day to Jan. 10, the Celtics played 10 games. They lost five of them, twice suffering back-to-back defeats. Boston is a team with a lot of circles on its trunk. They are confident that eventually, with prime pieces like Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett healthy, backed by role players like a healthy Shaquille O'Neal, they are a team built for Spring.

DONUT 6: Consider the Lakers. LA is so been there/done that that they avoid getting flustered by midseason problems – and they do have them. Kobe's knee … Artest's head (and belly?) … Gasol's heavy minutes… those three straight losses to close December … But they do not appear worried.

DONUT 7: Consider the Magic. Orlando almost completely re-shuffled its deck around Dwight Howard as a reaction to losses, yes. Is it all fixed? Well, the Magic entered this weekend with back-to-back losses. Now, that's not as bad and what they did from Dec. 4 to Dec. 21, when they recorded one win in nine outings. …

DONUT 8: Consider the Heat. They've lost three straight. Chris Bosh now has an ankle problem. LeBron James has an ankle problem, too, wrapped in a gauzy bandage of bad karma. Udonis Haslem isn't available.

DONUT 9: Those four teams, along with Dallas, have spent most of the year at the forefront of their conferences. As of Sunday morning, the 26-13 Mavs have in a few weeks slipped from second in the West to fifth, so maybe they don't deserve mention here.

But I still think I do. Maybe I'm a homer. But I think it.

Or …

DONUT 10: Maybe they just pale in comparison to the Spurs, the sixth team in the elite bunch, who haven't faltered hardly at all, pushing to a 34-6 record that is the best start in franchise history and tied for the third-best 40-game start in NBA history.

Hell, maybe EVERYBODY pales in comparison to the Spurs. Let's see … 34-6 times two … that's 68-12. Let's toss ‘em two more wins at the end.

So SA is going 7-12 this year. Right?

"We've been pretty good about staying healthy,'' said San Antonio's Tim Duncan, aware that the Spurs have started the same lineup in every games this season while Dallas has used seven different starting fives in the last 10 games. "And that's been a big part of it.''

San Antonio is the only team in the NBA that hasn't altered its starting lineup. The only one. The Spurs' greatest asset isn't coaching, talent or depth (as wonderful as all those might be).

The Spurs' greatest asset is health.

DONUT 11: The immediate goal for veteran teams – and this goes not just for the Mavs but for the rest of that group, too, and for other top-tier teams like the Bulls, Thunder, Knicks, Hawks and Jazz – isn't to be healthy today.

An important part of the plan is to be in position to be dangerous in April. And then be healthy in April.

That goes for everybody. On Sunday I pointed out the case of the Mavs – but only in part because starting to aim to the future is the best they can do right now. But don't you think LA, Boston, Miami, Orlando, SA, all of the been-there teams, understand the same thing and share the same goal?

Again, check Dallas' list of opponents: Golden State, Portland, Denver, Clippers, Phoenix, Houston, New Orleans.

You know what that is? That is a list of win-able games for a team that is good and healthy. It's hard to see April success from here … but the opportunity is coming.

Smile DONUT 12: "We can't get any lower ... We've got to scratch our way out if this,'' Nowitzki said. "We don't have any choice.''

And when it comes to enduring the ebbs and flows of an NBA season? So far, unless you are the Spurs, you don't have any choice there, either.


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