DALLAS -- In a series that turned chippy early in Game 2 with Oklahoma City Thunder's scowling big man Kendrick Perkins taking on the responsibility as ringleader, do the Dallas Mavericks need their own heavy to throw some weight around?
If they do, who other than Brian Cardinal should be called upon?
"Obviously, I’ll be ready when my number’s called, if it’s called. Who knows?" Cardinal said prior to the Mavs' morning shootaround. "The guys out there on the court know how to play, know what’s going on. They see the chippiness."
Perkins and Dirk Nowitzki scuffled in the first quarter of Game 2 in Oklahoma City with each drawing technical fouls. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle rushed onto the court with some choice words for Perkins. That it wasn't another Dallas player already on the floor sticking up for their 7-foot superstar shows some of what's missing without Tyson Chandler and DeShawn Stevenson on the roster.
Cardinal has barely stepped foot on the floor in this series, briefly entering for a possession in Game 1. His attributes don't necessarily fit this style of series, unless the chippiness escalates to a level that the Mavs must answer force with force.
"I think it’s just a matter of trying to impact the game in a legal way and the way that we can do that is by picking people up, by playing more physical, by making people catch the ball farther out," Cardinal said. "It’s by making things difficult and uneasy and not allowing pe0ple to settle in. That comes with us playing a little bit more physical. It’s us playing harder and so I think I’m expecting all those things to come to fruition tonight. Does that mean I’m going to get in? Who knows? The guys that have been out there playing have been playing great. Am I necessarily the X-factor? Who knows?"
The 270-pound Perkins certainly isn't afraid to make himself Public Enemy No. 1 around here. The Beaumont native made that known in the opening minutes of last season's Western Conference finals when he tried to pick a fight with Chandler. He's bringing the rough stuff on Nowitzki this time and the Mavs certainly don't expect Perkins to soften up with the series shifting to Dallas for tonight's critical Game 3.
"Great teams need a multitude of players of different caliber," Cardinal said. "You need your superstar, you need your tough guy, you need your glue guy, you need a variety of players and certain people relish that, certain people understand their role and embrace it and that’s what Perk is. You can go on down the list of teams, Artest, all these guys, they got guys that don’t care if they get a tech, don’t care if the other team doesn’t like them. It’s about winning, it’s about putting yourself and putting your team in the best possible position and we’ll see what happens tonight."
Do the Mavs have that type of guy on this roster?
"Tyson set a tone for us, D-Steve, guys that had a chip on their shoulder," Cardinal said of last season's unit. "I think we have guys this year that have a chip on their shoulder and we need to play more physical, we need to play harder, we need to play better."
Whether Cardinal gets a shot to put a little Mavs muscle into the series is yet to be seen.