But what would it really mean if they beat the Mavs, Celtics, or both? Is it about the team gaining confidence? Sending a message? Getting some media love?
Is it about proving they can do it, even though it’s only November?
“We swept Boston and they still went to Eastern Conference finals,” Mo noted. “You have got to be peaking at the right time and continue to get better.”
L.D. seemed to be simultaneously downplaying Atlanta’s failure to beat the best teams on its schedule and emphasizing that fact to his players.
“I don’t know how much the guys have thought about who the wins are against,” he said. “It’s early in the season. We have to respect every opponent. You don’t look at their wins and losses. ”
But before practice broke yesterday he told the team they needed to “beat some of these [better] teams.”
“I did put that bug in their ear,” he said.
The way things are going for the Mavs, maybe they need to win this one to prove something.
The Bulls beat them in Dallas last night by pounding them on the boards and shutting down everyone outside of Dirk. The Mavs have do have a victory against Boston and split with Denver and New Orleans.
Amazingly, this is the first set of back-to-back games for the Mavs.
“It’s one of the realities of the league,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “The good thing is we didn’t have anyone play ridiculous minutes last night.”
A Dallas reporter asked Carlisle about his team’s struggles against “young and athletic” opponents.
“It’s important for us to play our game,” he said. “We have to play to our length and experience.”
The Hawks want to make Dallas defend the entire floor but L.D. said it’s not like the Mavs can’t run. He said they play at a “youth’s pace” despite a starting lineup that averages 10 years of experience.
“They are a team that we know they are going to be well-prepared and even playing a back-to-back are going to give us their best game,” Drew said. “We can’t allow them beat us on glass, we can’t allow beat us up and down the floor. We’ve go to do a good job containing the dribble on the perimeter. We can’t get seduced into playing a style that doesn’t fit us.”
L.D. on the team’s effective jump shooting so far: “I won’t count on it every night. There will be some shots where we can’t put it in the ocean. We can’t go out and rely on the perimeter shot. We have to be a good executing team. But more importantly we have to be a sound defensive team. We’ve got to be able to get stops when we need them. We’ve got to be able to be solid defensively every night we step out.”
Al on the team developing a defensive identity: “It is coming along real well. We have to keep trusting each other. We are not there yet but I am encouraged to see some improvement. We are up and down but I think we are more consistent than we were in the past.”
Carlisle on that game J. Kidd stole from the Hawks last season: “I try not to live in the past. That was a great win, but in the NBA that was light years ago. Both teams are different now.”
Smoove on playing Thanksgiving night: “It’s good, but the only negative about it is you can’t eat what you want to eat before the game. That’s what Thanksgiving is about is to get some of that good stuff. Some of that cranberry sauce, some gravy with some mashed potatoes. I think we will definitely eat good when we get home. It’s always a plus to be able to do things like this. I just hope we don’t get the Christmas games. I don’t want those at all.”