Elton Brand arrived in Philadelphia ahead of his Mavericks teammates to see his family before taking on his former team.
For the rest of the players in blue and silver, this road trip east is all about business, hoping they can get that spark back that they had early on.
Now sitting at 7-7 following a disappointing 1-2 homestand, the Mavericks suddenly have a number of other problems to take care of – ones that they can’t just count on being solved by Dirk Nowitzki’s eventual return.
The Mavs saw the Lakers exact their revenge big time on Saturday, demolishing Dallas 114-89 at the American Airlines Center. But more than that, the Mavs completed a three-game home stand where they allowed 110 points per game.
That may have been acceptable in 1985. Not in today’s game.
Despite beating the Knicks last Wednesday, they allowed 49 percent shooting, including nearly 55 percent from three-point range. They followed that up by allowing the Lakers to shoot better then 50 percent.
And that defense couldn’t really be blamed on one person, given that three Lakers each went off for 19 points, including Antawn Jamison off the bench.
That’s not to say that hole at the power forward in Dirk’s absence hasn’t looked bigger over the past week. Brand and Troy Murphy have combined for six points total in the last two games. Neither one scored against the Lakers on Saturday.
Murphy has been the one many Dallas fans are starting to look daggers at. Signed in November to add more depth at the big forward spot, he’s currently averaging less than five points and four rebounds a game.
That makes Darren Collison’s recent performance look great by comparison. But the man Dallas is counting on much more than Murphy has still been inconsistent in recent times.
In the last five games, the Mavs have gone as well as Collison has. He’s averaged 16.5 points in their wins and just 6.3 in their losses – including just 2 against the Lakers.
Bottom line was, no one played well in their last game. O.J. Mayo was held to 13 points. Vince Carter led the team with 16 off the bench.
But that might be the one good thing – that hopefully a performance like that won’t happen again. But the type of game they’ll have to deal with in Philadelphia has yet to be seen.
The Sixers are in the top third defensively in the league (93.4 points allowed per game) but one of the worst offensively (92.2 scored). Pushing the ball often may be the key to victory for Dallas, but only if they don’t let Philly get in a rhythm offensively.
And maybe the Mavs can have a good start to this road trip in addition to Brand having a happy homecoming.