The Dallas Mavericks are setting off on a three-game road trip against beatable teams from the Eastern Conference. First up is a team that appears even more vulnerable after a bevy of trade deadline moves.
The Mavericks look to send the Philadelphia 76ers to a 10th straight loss in their first game since parting with leading scorer Evan Turner and starting center Spencer Hawes.
"We understand the nature of this time of the year," said 76ers coach Brett Brown, whose team most notably received injury-prone forward Danny Granger and his expiring contract from Indiana for Turner. "We understand the effect it has on human beings when you get beaten like we've been beaten recently, and that lack of self-esteem or lack of confidence or wondering what the future brings, it's my job to help them navigate through this. ... But that beat-down effect rears its head in a bunch of ways, and I see it now in them."
That's not something Dallas (32-23), which remained quiet through the deadline, can necessarily relate to. The Mavericks entered the All-Star break with six wins in seven games, though they did drop their return from the break with Tuesday's 117-106 home loss to Miami.
Dirk Nowitzki has 22 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as the Mavericks failed to beat the top two teams in the East in consecutive games after entering the break with a win at Indiana.
"I like how we competed," Nowitzki told the team's official website. "We played hard and gave ourselves a chance. Just down the stretch we weren't good enough. LeBron (James) kept making plays, and they stepped up their defense a little bit. We couldn't score the last four or five minutes, so I guess that separates a good team from a great team."
Dallas has won five of six against Philadelphia, including a 97-94 home victory on Nov. 18. Monta Ellis had 24 points and 10 assists while Nowitzki had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Turner led all scorers with 26.
In what ended up being Turner's final game with Philadelphia on Tuesday, the 76ers (15-40) started a five-game homestand with an embarrassing 114-85 loss to surging Cleveland. The nine-game losing streak is their longest since a 12-game skid in 2009-10.
Thaddeus Young had 15 points and nine rebounds while Michael Carter-Williams scored 15 but had seven turnovers and just one assist. Brown said Wednesday the rookie point guard is battling flu-like symptoms, but needs to better embrace the demands of his position after averaging 5.1 turnovers in his last seven games.
"The bottom line is he's got to run our team and be a point guard, and he's hit perhaps a little bit of a down patch," Brown said.
On Thursday, the 76ers followed up the latest loss by first trading Hawes to the Cavaliers for reserve forward Earl Clark, reserve center Henry Sims and two second-round picks.
Just before the 3 p.m. deadline, they made the Turner-Granger swap, which also sent Lavoy Allen to the Pacers and a 2015 second-round pick to the 76ers. The 30-year-old Granger, a 2009 All-Star, averaged 8.3 points in 29 games for the Pacers this season but has seen his career disrupted by injuries.
Philadelphia further shook up the roster in a three-team deal with Denver and Washington, taking on guard Eric Maynor from the Wizards and an additional two second-round picks. The pick from the Wizards comes in 2015 and one from the Nuggets is in 2016. Washington receives a protected 2014 second-round pick from the 76ers.
One final move brought center Byron Mullens to Philadelphia from the Los Angeles Clippers.