There was one time this season that the Dallas Mavericks looked liked a legitimate threat to dethrone the Lakers in the Western Conference. Dirk Nowitzki was playing like an MVP candidate and the Mavericks finally realized that they needed to play some defense to be a Championship threat, which is why Tyson Chandler was brought to Dallas. However, after a great start to the second half of the season, the Mavericks are stumbling down the stretch and losing momentum heading into the playoffs. It’s not panic time yet in big D and they will be a handful in a seven game series, but unless they turn things around on the defensive end of the floor, the Mavericks will have another early exit from the playoffs.
Tyson Chandler joined ESPN Dallas with Ben and Skin to talk about his comments that he made this past week about the team not playing enough defense, what he thinks of the Mavericks now as opposed to how he felt about them when he first came to Dallas, how far away they are from being the team they were earlier in the season, and what it is that is keeping them from being that team right now.
On the ultimatum that he gave the team following a recent loss:
“I wouldn’t necessarily call it an ultimatum. It’s just more so expressing how I felt and how I know my teammates feel. It’s really just about us coming together. When we come together we’re one of the top teams in this league. When we go back to our old ways and just think score first, we’re above average but not as good as we know that we’re capable of being.”
How his thoughts are different now about the Mavericks compared to how they were when he first got to Dallas:
“It’s pretty much kind of what I thought it would be. A group of great guys, guys that are super-talented, and guys that have all the potential in the world still, that’s including myself. I feel like once we got together it was just a situation where we had to figure out how to win together and be a great team together. Once you start to figure that out earlier in the season as every other team does, sometimes you go through those lulls where you get away from everything that you started at the beginning of the season. Now is just that time for us.”
How far away the Mavericks are from being the team they were early in the season:
“We’re not far because we get glimpses of it at different times. The way you played Golden State last game and the way we communicated on the floor was incredible. If we do that against the good teams I’m sure we will win. Before a couple of nights ago we were going into a stretch where we had been playing some bad basketball defensively and it went right into the San Antonio game. Sometimes it takes a wakeup call like that so you can say okay we can’t win that way and we have to get back to the things that we saw in training camp and that’s the way that we’re going to win. Even though they hurt sometimes when you take a loss it’s actually better for the team.”
On what is missing:
“Just our communication. Don’t get me wrong, as a Mav and all the success we’ve had this season, we have had great success and we have won a lot of basketball games. It’s not panic time and all that, but we know how good we can be. We want to be that good. We want to be great and we want to be that team that is the last one standing at the end of the year. In order to do that you have to get the best out of everybody. It’s not a situation where it’s panic time or ‘oh man our season hasn’t been a success.’ We’ve had a great season, but sometimes having a great season is not good enough and that’s the way we want to feel about it.”