Entering Saturday’s contest against Orlando, the Dallas Mavericks were in need of a spark to get them over the .500 mark on their home floor for the first time this season. Enter Deron Williams, who was back in the starting lineup after missing eight games with a painful big-toe injury.
D-Will finished with seven points on 3-of-6 shooting, adding four assists and three steals along the way. No. 8 was happy to report afterward that it felt good to be back out on the floor.
“It’s only been a couple of weeks, but I felt really good,” Deron said. “The legs felt good, the wind felt good, there were no setbacks.”
No. 8 controlled the tempo from the opening tip-off, bringing his veteran poise back to a new-look Mavs team that has been working hard to find it’s identity while fighting injuries.
“As bad as we started the season we were never out [of the NBA Playoffs] by more than four or five games,” D-Will said. “And that was kind of promising, because we knew we could play a lot better than we have been, especially if we could get healthy.”
Injuries have certainly derailed much of the Mavericks’ season to this point—now, it seems the squad is righting the ship and preparing for a spirited playoff run.
“We still haven’t really (gotten completely healthy),” Deron said. “But we’re definitely playing more consistent basketball and playing a lot better, and I think, figuring out an identity.”
The Mavs took a commanding 61-35 lead in the opening half before the coaching staff decided to sit D-Will down for the night, as part of his injury recovery plan. “
They just told me I wasn’t playing in the second half,” D-Will said. “I tried to fight them a little bit, but it didn’t work.”
Deron passed the torch to emerging rookie guard Yogi Ferrell, who has played well under the tutelage of Williams’ veteran presence.
“I thought he did a great job (against the Magic), even when I came back,” Deron said fo Ferrell. “So it’s good to see him still being aggressive and still playing well, even though I was back.”
The outcome was never in doubt at the American Airlines Center, as Dallas held a commanding lead even with Williams on the bench. None the less, No. 8’s teammates appreciated the immediate impact of his return.
“It’s huge to have Deron back,” forward Justin Anderson said. “He did a terrific job with the pace.”
Unfortunately, the Mavs couldn’t keep that going two nights later against the No. 2 team in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics.
D-Will was again on limited mintues, logging just 13 in the defeat, going 1-for-1 from the floor for two points, adding an assist, a rebound and a steal.
The Mavs trailed most of the way before cutting the Celtics’ lead to just one point in the third quarter. However, Dallas never could close the gap in the loss.