Travel Day: The Mavs had a light practice this morning before boarding a plane to Washington for the first of a three-game road trip that features the Wizards, Raptors, and 76ers.
It's a tricky time for the Mavs, who need to get ready for their annual playoff run while weighing the balance between finding their stride and not overworking veteran players. The key is to efficiently use practice time in order to finely tune their system.
"We had to take advantage of these two days (of practice)," said coach Rick Carlisle. "I feel like we have, but now we've got to do it on the court and it's going to be challenging."
Here is the full Rick Carlisle media session where he discusses the difficulty of the upcoming trip as well as how recent trades will affect their opponents:
The mood throughout the Mavs' locker room has been confident and loose for weeks now. In case you need more evidence of that, rewind to about the 3:00 mark and witness Tyson Chandler give his coach "bunny ears" while he was in mid-response.
Yeah, you could say they're a loose squad.
The Euro Shooting Challenge: When practice ended, Peja (of course) went and shot a round of three pointers. After he finished, he was quick to call Dirk out to try and beat him. Normally, we'd advise against calling Dirk Nowitzki out in anything basketball-related, but Peja is king when it comes to shooting from distance.
Peja made 23 of 25 during his round and after going 4 of 5 on his first rack, witness here how Dirk does on the rest:
Dirk normally talks the most fun-loving trash during these post-practice games, but the Big German was relatively quiet while understanding even HE is outmatched against Peja in outright shooting contests.
The most Dirk spoke during the round: "Damn!" as he accepted defeat after his last shot.
For good measure, Roddy B stood off to the side and offered some snarky French comments and good natured sarcasm aimed at both shooters.
Not on Paper: Dirk was the last one off the floor after practice. After making sure to poke fun of the media in his goofy Dirk way, he stuck around for a rather extended media session. He was persistent in pushing the point that while their upcoming opponents may not have the strongest record, it's the NBA and any team can win on any night.
"On paper, you should definitely win," one media member quipped."
"Yea, I mean, on paper… this league doesn't work on paper," Dirk politely responded.
Here is The UberMan's question and answer session in full as he discusses the upcoming road trip, the Mavs' strong road record, and how he sees Roddy B and JJ fitting in:
Dirk had positive things to say about Roddy B's practice work at PG ... Marion and Peja always seem to buddy up to work on free throws together after practice, as do Tyson and DeShawn… Tyson made 25 of 25 free throws,
therefore getting a coveted bell-ring from assistant coach Darrell Armstrong. Tyson promptly challenged Dirk to a three point contest… Caron Butler
will be joining the Dallas Mavericks on the road trip, which includes Washington (his former team)… It's impossible not to notice how every Maverick messes with
rookie Dominique Jones when they walk by him, despite him being in a walking boot. Shawn Marion definitely is the main culprit, though… Jason Terry
stayed after practice to do the same series of workouts that he did yesterday. ... Mavs at Washington means a visit with Josh Howard. Mavs players had nice things to say about J-Ho, who should be in action for the struggling Wizards.
The Final Word: Rick on Roddy B: "He's a student of the game.''