No one is happy with the way the Mavs are ending their season…except for Dirk Nowitzki

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The Dallas Mavericks are struggling right now, and there’s no way around that. The defense performance hasn’t improved with the additions of Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler, Jason Terry and Butler have each had plenty some trouble with their shooting, and the perimeter defense shifts from passable to deplorable. As of now, it’s not even certain the Mavs would be favored to win a first round series, much less make an extended run in the playoffs.

Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t mind the struggles. From Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News:

…on Tuesday
when [Nowitzki] analyzed their situation – which has included three weeks of
uneven, perhaps even sub-par, play – he saw a reason not for panic, but
for opportunity.

In fact, he loves what he sees, which is
five regular-season games that will be packed with pressure to perform.

“I always liked having something to play for at the end,
having a good rhythm going into the playoffs and not have the seeding
already done a month before and coast through,” he said. “So for me,
it’s another perfect year, just like last year.”

You can’t blame Dirk for taking such a stance; the alternative strategy of coming into the playoffs at a walk and resting starters is considered to be one of the factors in 2007 that led to the Golden State Warriors’ epic first-round upset over Dallas. Needless to say those weren’t exactly fond memories for Nowitzki.

That obviously doesn’t mean Dallas won’t try to right the ship over their last five games.  They have a lot they’d like to accomplish before the sun sets on the regular season, and maybe an incredibly abbreviated timeline will motivate a team that’s lacked a sense of urgency.

Jazz boost international bona fides with new minor-league coach

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Martin Schiller has been named coach of the Salt Lake City Stars, the Utah Jazz’s NBA G League affiliate.

Schiller previously served as an assistant coach of MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg in Germany and replaces Dean Cooper. He was an assistant coach for the Artland Dragons from 2010-15.

Schiller has also been an assistant coach on the German National Team since 2015, where he worked with Jazz assistant coach Alex Jensen.

Schiller hails from Vienna, Austria, and Stars vice president of basketball operations Bart Taylor lauded him for his international experience and player development background.

The Jazz organization is known to have close relationships with the international basketball community. The Jazz currently have eight international players.

Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 with Celtics

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BOSTON (AP) — Newly acquired guard Kyrie Irving will wear No. 11 in Boston because the Celtics already have retired the numbers he wore in college and with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Irving wore No. 11 at two New Jersey high schools before switching to No. 1 at Duke. He wore No. 2 with the Cavaliers for the first six years of his NBA career.

The Celtics retired No. 1 for founder and original owner Walter Brown. They retired No. 2 for former coach and general manager Red Auerbach.

In all, the Celtics have retired 21 numbers, with Paul Pierce’s No. 34 next in line for the TD Garden rafters.

 

PBT Extra: Cavaliers’ new GM aces first big test with Kyrie Irving trade

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Everyone in the NBA — heck, nearly everyone living in the Western hemisphere — knew Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland. That should kill the Cavaliers’ leverage and make it hard to get enough quality back.

New GM Koby Altman — the guy thrust into the job when David Griffin was shown the door — pulled it off brilliantly.

That’s what I talk about in this new PBT Extra. With Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, the Cavaliers remain the team to beat in the East this season. The Brooklyn Nets pick gives them flexibility going forward, whatever LeBron James decides to do next season.

First time at the plate in the big leagues and Altman crushed it to straight away center field.

Cavaliers-Celtics deal first offseason trade involving players who just met in NBA Finals or conference finals

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The Cavaliers and Celtics played in last year’s Eastern Conference finals. The teams were widely expected to meet there again.

Yet, Cleveland and Boston just completed a blockbuster trade – Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.

That seemed odd.

In fact, it’s unprecedented.

That is an incredible fact, one which speaks to LeBron Jamescachet. The Cavs are emphasizing this season, LeBron’s last before a player option, by loading up with veterans Thomas and Crowder. With LeBron still reigning in Cleveland, the Celtics are delaying their peak by acquiring the younger Irving.

Adding to the intrigue: the Cavs and Celtics are still favored to meet in this year’s conference finals. At minimum, they’ll face off in a(n even more) highly anticipated opening-night matchup.