'A New Reality': Carlisle's Mavs - Without Powell and With NBA Trade Deadline Coming - Need Bigs

Mike Fisher

The Dallas Mavericks' reaction to the season-ending torn Achilles injury sustained this week by Dwight Powell on Tuesday against the Clippers has been impressive. First, the Mavs hung with the powerhouse Clippers that night before succumbing late. Next came a Thursday roadie at Portland, and an even more impressive feat, as Dallas crushed the Blazers, 133-125.

Nevertheless, the time of adjustment continues on. ... 

“We have a new reality,'' coach Rick Carlisle said, "without Dwight. And it’s going to require a togetherness and a real understanding of who we’ve got to be, and that is an attacking team that’s skilled, but defensively we’ve got to do it collectively.''

It's going to take something else as well. Added Carlisle: “Well, we’re running out of big men.''

Part of the answer to that is health and production from the 7-3 Kristaps Porzingis at center. More help is available via bigs Maxi Kleber and Boban Marjanovic. And then there is the step-up skills of some guys on the other end of the bench, whether they play "big'' or not. Justin Jackson, Delon Wright and Jalen Brunson all popped up on the radar in that way at Portland. (Game story here.)

“We’re going to be smaller in a lot of situations,'' Carlisle said.

But of course there are other solutions. The Mavs were already active in looking for help as the NBA trade deadline approaches, and it seems a wide net was/is being cast, toward a variety of players with games that do not resemble one another. (From Iggy to Drummond to Galinari to Covington to Bogdan Bogdanovic and Dewayne Dedmon and more). Maybe the focus now needs to narrow in a way reflected by Rick's "we’re running out of big men'' remark.

Is that a cry for specific help that can be answered only by a center? And does the center need to be a third-stringer (Noah or Mejri and the like)?

The Mavs' chasing help at the deadline isn't "a new reality''; once "Slow But Fast'' All-Star starter Luka Doncic raised this team's playoff chances, that was always going to happen. And an argument can still be made that any starter added, at any position, vaults Dallas upward.

But there might be "a new reality'' about a more specific need now.