Opening Tip: Marion the mismatch eliminator?

DALLAS -- There aren’t many players in the NBA who Shawn Marion isn’t capable of defending, as coach Rick Carlisle so eloquently put into historical context Saturday night.

So can the Matrix be the Mavericks’ designated defensive mismatch eliminator this season?

“He has been for four-plus years,” Carlisle said. “He loves taking on challenges.”

Too bad it’s not as simple as telling Marion to sic the opponents’ leading scorer, whether he plays point guard, power forward or any position in between.

That’s not a strategy that Marion sees working on a regular basis.

“It depends on the other team,” Marion said. “Most of the teams we’re playing, no, we’re not going to be able to cross match. We’re going to have to guard position by position. This night was one of the teams that we were fortunate enough to do that. Most of the nights, it’s not going to be that easy.”

In other words, Jose Calderon has to guard somebody. Same goes for Monta Ellis or Dirk Nowitzki.

Cross-matching was much easier for the Mavs during the days when Jason Kidd played point guard. He had the strength to keep shooting guards or small forwards from dominating on the block. That isn’t the case with Calderon.

Plus, it’s asking a bit much for the 35-year-old Marion to run off a bunch of picks or bang with a power forward all night. Not that he isn’t up to the task, but he acknowledges that those assignments need to come in limited doses.

“For a lil’ bit. For a lil’ bit,” he said.

It’s nice to have a defender with Swiss Army knife versatility, but Marion can’t be the solution to every mismatch for the Mavs.