With some new additions in the mix, the Dallas Mavericks are playing like a team with a renewed sense of purpose.
The Mavericks look to continue their solid play with a fourth straight victory Monday night while trying for a sixth consecutive home win over the Indiana Pacers.
Dallas (35-21) lost five of seven heading into the All-Star break, then dropped its first game back by 13 points at Oklahoma City. The Southwest Division-leading Mavericks have bounced back with wins against playoff contenders Phoenix, Orlando and Miami.
The Mavericks are fourth in the Western Conference, but poised to improve that position.
“We had 30 games left after the All-Star break,” said guard Jason Kidd(notes), who had 21 points and 11 assists in a 97-91 win over the Heat on Saturday. “Being a veteran ballclub, we understand what’s at stake. So the dress rehearsal is over and we’ve got to get serious.”
Though they’ve only been with the team for a week, Butler and center Brendan Haywood(notes) appear to be paying dividends for the Mavericks after being acquired, along with DeShawn Stevenson(notes), from Washington for underachieving veterans Josh Howard(notes), Drew Gooden(notes) and two others.
Butler is averaging 16.0 points in a more limited offensive role in four games with his new team, while Haywood has put up 10.8 points and 8.7 rebounds in his first four contests with the Mavericks. The pair also seems to be helping the team improve on the defensive end.
Dallas’ four opponents since the break are averaging 93.0 points on 44.1 percent shooting. In going 3-5 prior to the break, the Mavericks gave up 112.4 points and their opponents shot 52.9 percent during that span.
“I think we’re getting better,” Nowitzki told the Mavericks’ official Web site. “If good players just play off each other and play unselfish and play together, we’ll be OK…It’s been fun.”
The fun could continue as the Mavericks try for a fifth consecutive victory overall against the Pacers (19-36). Dallas has won eight of nine overall against Indiana, and nine of 10 at home in the series.
Nowitzki, who had 31 points in a 113-92 win at Indiana on Nov. 27, is averaging 27.5 points in his last 11 games versus the Pacers. Butler is averaging 27.3 and 9.3 rebounds in his last six against Indiana.
Though the Mavericks are averaging 109.6 points and shooting 50.9 percent during their five-game home winning streak over the Pacers, Indiana enters this contest coming off a 125-115 at Houston on Saturday.
Danny Granger(notes) matched a season high with 36 points and T.J. Ford(notes) scored 19 of his season-high 23 in the second half as the Pacers snapped a four-game losing streak and improved to 7-21 on the road.
“It’s been a rough season for all of us,” said Ford, averaging 10.5 points in 37 games this season. “We understand teams are really going to look past us and it’s an opportunity for us to try to win a lot of games and get back in the hunt.”
Granger is averaging 28.8 points in his last four contests, but 10.8 in four career road games against the Mavericks.