PHOENIX -- As the Dallas Mavericks quickly turn their focus to the Phoenix Suns for tonight's nationally televised game on ESPN, a rotation that had been in flux all of March due to injury, is finally starting to take shape.
"Coach [Rick Carlisle] already made a point that we’re going to do certain things with the rotation, so we understand that part of it," said Jason Terry, who bolstered his Sixth Man of the Year campaign with 22 points in Saturday's 94-77 win over the Utah Jazz. "We understand what he’s expecting out of each and every player. He’s holding us accountable, so we’re in a good place."
The new rotation begins with Shawn Marion, who Carlisle convinced in training camp that he would be a bigger asset to the team coming off the bench, appears to be set as the starter at small forward. Peja Stojakovic and Jason Terry are the new bench pair, checking in together as Marion and Terry did for much of the season.
Marion certainly isn't complaining as his minutes and productivity spike upward. As the starter when Stojakovic missed six games with a stiff neck and in the past two games with Stojakovic moving to about a 24-minute-a-game bench role, Marion has logged 30 or more minutes in six of eight games.
The two he didn't hit 30 he left early due to injury.
Marion's extra minutes are coming at power forward when he stays in the game and Dirk Nowitzki exits at about the mid-point of the first and third quarters when Terry and Stojakovic check in. Where Marion and Terry complemented one another as co-sixth men, Carlisle said the Stojakovic and Marion in the lineup together can gain a similar chemistry, and give the Mavs one of the stronger second units around.
"The chemistry between those two guys [Stojakovic and Marion] might be a little more closely related than that with [Marion and] Jet," Carlisle said. "We’re working toward getting together a playoff rotation here. We’re closely identifying roles and what we need from people, and our communication defensively is going to be a big key in these last  games and as we head into the playoffs."
Perhaps the one surprise is that newly acquired small forward Corey Brewer hasn't been able to crack the rotation, even as a defensive specialist on a team looking to regain its early season standard on that end. Brewer has been inactive the last two games, and with 10 games left in the regular, it's hard to see Brewer making a significant impact.
Although, sometimes with Carlisle cracks come unexpectedly.
"We’ve got 12 guys who are ready to play and practice hard," Nowitzki said. "Brewer, unfortunately right now is not in the rotation, but sooner or later something is going to happen and we’ll see what happens."