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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Tuesday, October 27th (All times eastern)

Washington Wizards (0-0) at Dallas Mavericks (0-0), 8:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Regardless of what's said about Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, he does bring a winning product to the hardwood. Cuban's Mavs will commence the 2009-10 campaign tonight, when they welcome the new-look Washington Wizards to American Airlines Center.

Dallas has reached the postseason nine consecutive years and has won at least 50 games in each of those campaigns. It sent the San Antonio Spurs packing in five games in the opening round of the playoffs before bowing out to the Denver Nuggets in five games the following round. Cuban's goal was to retain the core of his squad in leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Jason Terry and Erick Damper. The multi-millionaire then brought in Shawn Marion, Tim Thomas and Drew Gooden for reinforcement.

Nowitzki led the Mavs with 25.9 points per game and will share the load with Marion, who's also a prolific scorer and can change the pace of the game. Marion has bounced around teams the last few years, but has been consistent with whomever he plays for. Marion is career 48.1 percent shooter and gives head coach Rick Carlisle another scoring option besides the German All-Star.

The Mavericks will once again be battling for bragging rights in the Southwest Division over the likes of Houston, San Antonio and New Orleans. Memphis is still building and won't be relevant in this conversation for years to come, even with the addition of Allen Iverson. Dallas has finished first in the Southwest just twice during its long postseason run.

Meanwhile, Washington will open the Flip Saunders era this evening after he joined the club in the offseason. The Wizards fired Eddie Jordan after a 1-10 start, then tabbed director of player development Ed Tapscott as interim head coach. The team finished the season 19-63, which was the worst record in the Eastern Conference, and matched the worst mark for the team over an 82-game season.

Saunders last coached Detroit from the 2005-06 season to 2007-08. The Pistons reached the East finals in each of Saunders' three seasons as coach, losing every time. He hopes to have a healthy unit back for 2009-10, while All-Star guard Gilbert Arenas has played in just 15 games the past two seasons. Arenas has had three surgeries on his left knee over the past two years, and last competed in a full season in 2006-07, when he averaged 28.4 points per game.

Arenas has battled through extensive rehab to get back on the floor and regain his rhythm, something forward Antawn Jamison won't be doing any time soon. Jamison is expected to miss the first eight to 10 games of the season after he partially dislocated his shoulder in a preseason game earlier this month. He led Washington in scoring at 22.2 points per game and missed only one game last season.

Forward Caron Butler and shooting guard DeShawn Stevenson hope to have injury- free campaigns for the Wizards, who had reached the postseason in four straight years before last season's tumultuous ride to a 19-win campaign. Butler has finished second on the team in scoring the last two seasons.

Dallas won both meetings with Washington in 2008-09 and has won 11 of the past 15 matchups between the teams. These two clubs have split the past 14 encounters at American Airlines Center.

10/27 10:30:59 ET


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