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Mavs vs. Bobcats: Haywood's return

After a strong two-game road trip to start the year, the Mavs return home to play a young Charlotte team that should be much improved from last season.


Three days after the Mavs shocked the Lakers on Opening Night, their win no longer seems as impressive. LA has stumbled out to an 0-3 start while Dallas has continued tinkering with roster.

And when the schedule first came out, their home opener against the Bobcats, the worst team in the NBA last year, looked like an easy win. Now, after their surprising 90-89 upset over the Pacers on Friday night, they've become a somewhat intriguing opponent, especially against a Mavs team we still don't know much about.

Eddy Curry, who got 17 minutes in their win over their Lakers, is gone, with Troy Murphy, who had not participated in a training camp this year, taking his place. Murphy, an 11-year NBA veteran, is coming off the worst season of his career with the Lakers, but there is still a chance he could be a useful player: he was very efficient in the minutes he received in LA and may have been a victim of a roster crunch in their front-court.

Charlotte's leading scorer against Indiana was Kemba Walker, who poured in 30 points on 10-21 shooting. After struggling mightily as a rookie, the UConn star will have every chance to make the traditional second-year leap. At 6'0 185, Walker is one of the rare PG's actually smaller than Darren Collison, who will have another chance against a weak defender to continue his strong start to the season.

The Mavs will probably need his points, because they may struggle to create good looks against an athletic young Bobcats team. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, their No. 2 overall pick from Kentucky, is an extremely intriguing prospect. At 6'7 225, his versatility and athleticism is reminiscent of a young Shawn Marion.

This is the type of team that could have given the last few versions of the Mavs trouble with their athleticism, but Dallas, without Dirk, Jason Kidd or Jason Terry on the floor, no longer has to cover for as many poor athletes. At the same time, they're still more skilled than a Charlotte team whose offensive efficiency is still fairly questionable.

Bovada has the line for this game at -9.5, which seems about right.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.