DONUT 1: Donnie's State of the Mavs ...
Last night, Lombardo's Custom Apparel hosted a Dallas Mavericks party featuring Donnie and Larry.
Donnie Nelson and Larry O'Brien.
I had the opportunity to machine-gun some questions at the Mavs GM, some of them related to team chemistry -- especially as it relates to the unusual headlines earned by Lamar Odom and Jason Terry.
Jet, of course, is concerned about his financial future as a Mav For Life. And Lamar is concerned about ... well, who knows?
My questions were specific:
a) Does Jet understand what this team is accomplishing and how he can fit or not fit in the future? (If you'd like to understand it all on a level only the Mavs front office itself understands, David Lord's Premium piece is a must-read and well worth your nine cents.)
b) Is the organization on top of the possibility that there might be something psychological that is ailing Odom?
Nelson's answers were non-specific but you'll get the point.
"I don't butt into the locker room,'' Donnie told me. "There is a chain of command in sports. The players report to the coach. Now, Mark (Cuban) is right there on the sideline, gauging things from his view even in the huddle, but the huddle and the locker room belong to the coach.
"So in terms of day-to-day dealings, I can't speak to how a particular guy is doing with a certain playcall or whatever. But I can tell you that our veteran players are smart guys. They understand the game and they understand the business.''
And Donnie, regarding any certain player's psychological needs?
"Fish, you've been around here for 13 years, right? What do you think?'' Donnie asked. "Do you think Mark Cuban leaves any option unexplored or any stone unturned?''
DONUT 2: A party and a wake ...
The Lombardo's site is also the place where, a month ago, we all gathered for Joe Avezzano's going-away party. Coach Joe, a local icon due to his work as the Dallas Cowboys special-teams coordinator in three Super Bowl championship seasons, his charity work in the community and his awful country singing, headed to Italy. He was prepping to coach the Milan Seamen in the Italian Football League. His wife Diann told me she was going to take cooking classes while Joe took one final crack at coaching. ...
Coach Joe passed away on Thursday while working on the treadmill. He was 68.
Avezzano had a million friends. One of them was Donnie, who shared with Joe a love for the country-music scene. Donnie, speaking to the crowd last night, broke up twice in his presentation. Once was when he mentioned the phone call he received from the Avezzano family telling him of the sad news.
The other was uplifting.
"What I am proudest of,'' Donnie said, the Larry O'Brien Trophy shimmering nearby, "is that the Dallas Mavericks winning that title provides an inspiration. My dad called me right after we won and said, 'You know, you guys were kinda outmanned in three of those series. You were the underdogs.'
"What that team accomplished,'' Donnie said, tearing up just a bit, "is serving as an inspiration to underdogs everywhere ... an inspiration to every team all the way down to Little League, to every underdog kid all the way down. That's what the Dallas Mavericks did. That's what I am proudest of.''
DONUT 3: The Race In The West ...
The Race To The West Playoffs … updated daily to keep y'all posted on where the Mavs stand!
DONUT 4: Let's get to tonight's Blazers-at-Mavs tip -- and some of the strategy...
The starting lineups, and NBA scouting info from Kyle Leath ...
|BLAZERS 26-29||MAVS 29-22|
|F- Nicolas Batum||F- Shawn Marion|
|F- LeMarcus Aldridge||F- Dirk Nowitzki|
|C- Joel Przybilla||C- Brendan Haywood|
|G- Wesley Matthews||G- Vince Carter|
|G- Raymond Felton||G- Delonte West|
DONUT 5: A look at the Blazers Offense ...
• This is a transition team with Felton pushing the ball. In secondary break they will trail with Camby and look to get Aldridge open on block-to-block cross screens with ball reversal.
• Much of their set offense is on left side of floor. Look to iso Aldridge and Felton on post-ups in low- and mid-post.
• They use Aldridge in mid pick/roll action. He likes to pop and shoot 18-footer off the elbows.
• 1-4 series is their primary continuity offense. Will UCLA cut PG to weak side Flex action. Also will use to post PG on UCLA cut.
DONUT 6: A look at the Blazers Defense ...
• Man-to-man and really take chances in the passing lanes both on perimeter and interior. Will hit hard at ball. Mavs must be strong on drives.
• Handle big/little ball screens by showing to flatten and recover. Will switch some guard/guard ball screens.
• Show full-court pressure after made FTs.
DONUT 7: Stat Check ...
• Portland isn't the same team it was when it battled Dallas in last year's first round. The Blazers are in 11th, eyeing the Lotto and with Nate McMillan fired, are taking orders from Kaleb Canales, 33 and a UT-Arlington graduate.
• Last time these teams played: Feb. 11 at the AAC, Dallas pulled out a 97-94 double-OT victory.
• Dallas is 3-20 when trailing after three periods.
DONUT 8: In addition to watching the Mavs-Blazers ...
Listen to The Fish with Gavin Dawson on the Mavs Unofficial Pregame Show tonight on 105.3 The Fan ... and follow the game on Twitter with the Mavs Twitterverse ... The 75-Member Staff!
DONUT 9: The Mavs' "motto''? ...
Donnie tells me he was as stunned by the 19-point home loss to the Clippers as you and I were. But this season is moving too quickly to dwell on such things, causing Jason Terry to make up (I think) a "team motto'' on the fly.
"Our motto,'' Jet says, is 'Don't even worry about it.' So if something goes wrong out there on the floor, or somebody is out of the lineup, we just tell ourselves or tell our teammates, 'Don't even worry about it' and just keep playing. And I think that's what has been keeping us in these games and keeping us positive. Monday night was a bad performance, but we just put it away and did not even worry about it."
If recognizing that "worrying'' is pointless while "fixing concerns'' is vital, then Jet is onto something. But "team motto''?
"We're fighting with all these teams for playoff positioning ... You can win two or lose two either way and that can make a big difference where you're going to be in the playoffs, or not in the playoffs at all. Knowing that and knowing we're a championship-caliber team, we just have to continue to grind it out and 'Don't even worry about it.'''
DONUT 10: If you like this level of insight into the World Champion Dallas Mavericks ...
Try our Premium Mavs coverage! This is what we do, every day, with 28 years of experience on the beat! It's pennies a day to get All-Access to what the Mavs are doing upstairs, down in the basement, in the locker room and on the court – and it's free to come inside for a 7-day tryout. Now more than ever, there's no reason not to give it a go! Thanks for your support of the site at less than a dime-a-day! Go Mavs and Go Premium!
DONUT 11: Scout Kyle Leath on How to Beat the Blazers:
• DEFENSIVE TRANSITION– Blazers will look to get out and run at any opportunity. They do a good job of forcing turnovers. The Mavs must first take care of ball then stop transition on misses.
• OPERATE – Execute in the half-court. Be strong with the ball and make then defend and take advantage when they gamble.
• BACK-UPS – Portland's top players are quality. Mavericks need to use depth to wear down Blazers.
• BALL MOVEMENT: Listen to the Mavs themselves speak on the subject:
From Dirk Nowitzki "I think we're best when we move the ball. We talked about it, against the Clippers we were a little stagnant, a lot of dribbling the ball. We know that's really not our game. We don't have a lot of great one-on-one players. That's not our game. Our game is to move it, swing it, look for the open guy, drive it, swing it again and just keep the ball hopping. ... That (is) fun to play."
From Rick: "Ball movement is such a big part of who we are and who we've been. When it doesn't move, it's hard because the whole defense loads up on whoever's got it. It's something we've worked on the last couple of days ...''
That work needs to pay off tonight, and every night going forward.
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
R.I.P., Coach Joe. You, my friend, lived a life.