Pump Up Music: Darude -- "Sandstorm"
The Big Picture: The Dallas Mavericks leapfrogged a few teams in the mythical Title Contenders rankings when they made some key acquisitions at the deadline, most notably Caron Butler, but also Brendan Haywood. If the Mavs want to play a tight rotation, they can run out All Star and borderline All Star talent all game at every position, except center. And when they go small with Dirk Nowitzki at the nominal center, they'll have an MVP-caliber talent there, too.
They were already one of the better teams in the league, and now that they have Butler, that's more minutes on the floor that won't be going to the Eduardo Najeras of the world.
Key to Victory: Erick Dampier is out, which affects their ability to take advantage of our weakened front line. Their best lineups tend to match up well with our best lineups, both ways, so I don't think we'll be able to gain an advantage by playing Diaw more at center, or anything like that, and D.J. Augustin won't be totally outclassed by Jason Terry any more than he already outclasses the other guards he faces.
I'm hoping we do see a lot of Tyrus Thomas. He's the ideal defender on Nowitzki, if we're not going to put Stephen Jackson on him, and he can cause Dirk issues at the other end by playing rough.
Detail That May Interest .08% of You: Rick Carlisle played in 188 NBA games as a guard and only attempted 48 three pointers. How times have changed. I think Antoine Walker once took that many threes in a Friday-Saturday back to back.