Remember when we thought the Dallas Mavericks were going to finally slide towards the dregs of the Western Conference? Wesley Matthews wasn't supposed to be back yet, Deron Williams had sustained his annual lower body injury in September, and the team figured that Zaza Pachulia + JaVale McGee= DeAndre Jordan.
Well, now the Mavericks are 2-2 with Matthews and Williams healthy, plus a revitalized Dirk Nowitzki. It's not entirely unfair to question the validity of Dallas' .500 record; the Mavericks two wins have come against Phoenix and Los Angeles (L), with losses to Toronto and Los Angeles (C). In those games, the Mavericks either won by 10 plus points or lost by 10 plus points. In all likelihood, they're a team that's going to beat up on awful-to-mediocre teams, but going to struggle against the contenders in both conferences. Honestly, that would be a better fate than many had envisioned for them before the season.
The Mavericks have been able to get off to a solid start for a few reasons. First is the defense that ranks somewhere between top-10 and top half of the league, depending on your metric of choice. The second is Nowitzki. Nowitzki has turned back the clock in his first four games. At 17.5 points, eight rebounds, and two assists per game, Nowitzki is carrying the Mavericks because no one else on the roster is touching that level of production right now. Considering he's shooting 56.3 percent from the field and 61.5 percent from three, everything is falling for Nowitzki.
Yet, if the Hornets want to exploit the Mavericks' weakness, it should be done with defesnse. Dallas is currently 22nd in offensive rating, and 23rd in points per game. Also, the team is 22nd in team field goal percentage, and 28th in team free throws attempted. As long as they keep Nowitzki in check, the Hornets would consequently be putting a ton of pressure on Dallas' supporting cast to step up.
Coming off of the their first win of the season the Hornets will look to continue that momentum in Dallas on Thursday night. Cody Zeller suffered a cut above his eye after catching a Joakim Noah elbow, but he'll play because Zellers don't feel pain. OK, that last part might not be true, but he'll play.
And if you had told me that through the team's first four games that Jeremy Lamb and Spencer Hawes would lead the team in efficiency while having 50-50 shooting seasons, I would have said you're crazy. If those two are able to be productive, the Hornets could be able to make up a lot of ground once guys like Al Jefferson, and others get up to speed.
The Hornets have won one game, and if they win another that's two-- that's called a streak. Carrying the momentum from the win over the Bulls onto the road would make you feel better about this team righting the ship.