Ready or Not, Here Comes Basketball Season

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With the Cowboys' hopes buried, the Rangers' pursuit of Cliff Lee still a week from climax and the leftover turkey all but scarfed, time for your Mavericks to snatch our attention.

If they haven't already.

In case you're one of those that refuses to pay attention to basketball before Thanksgiving, you missed some good hoops recently. The Mavericks, who host the Houston Rockets tonight at AAC and could get off to their best start since going 16-1 in '02, whipped the Miami Heat last Saturday night at American Airlines Center.

You'd think a victory over LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would be significant. But considering two facts, it was really more ho-hum:

1. The Heat, at 9-8, is a mediocre outfit.

2. The Mavs, at 12-4, just completed only the third sweep of four-games-in-five-nights in 108 all-time tries.

The Mavs scored the first 13 points of the third quarter while Miami missed its first 10 shots. With no inside presence - the Heat actually played former Mavs Juwan Howard and Erick Dampier - the Mavs dominated with Tyson Chandler's 14 points and 17 rebounds.

Don't look now, but this guy is a beast. He's the reason these Mavs have the chance to be much better for much longer this season.

Led by the active, emotional Chandler and head coach Rick Carlisle's array of zones the Mavs have one of the NBA's best defenses (allowing only 92 points per game). I know, sounds weird huh?

Dirk Nowitzki is better than ever. Jason Kidd is aggressive, Caron Butler is improved and Chandler is a significant physical and psychological upgrade in Dallas' interior.

The Mavs again proved they're an elite team last week when they beat the Pistons, Thunder, Spurs (snapping San Antonio's 12-game winning streak in The Alamo City) and Heat in a five-night span.

And to think, center Brendan Haywood isn't yet on the same page (suspended one game last week after a spat with Carlisle) and sparkplug guard Roddy Beaubois isn't yet on the court (still two weeks from playing after fracturing his foot over the summer).

A lot of you will write this off as the same ol' Mavs, but this team doesn't play soft. This team does play defense. And this team does have my attention.


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