Chuck Cooperstein has seen every Mavs game this season — and that means he's seen the good and the bad from the defending champs.
What do you think about the Mavs' chances of defending their title?
Well, it's been an unusual year just because so much of the team that won the title isn't here. The team has played very few games in which they have been all available or in basketball shape.
What's number would you put on that?
It's less than five, I would say.
It's been crazy in that regard, so I really think they're a wild card because nobody knows. The core group that was here, save (Tyson) Chandler, is here. They know how to do this. And then you have a guy like Vince Carter ... an eight-time All-Star who's never gotten out of the second round of the playoffs. He's really got something to prove.
What do you like most about this Mavs' team?
That Dirk is still Dirk. If Dirk were playing more minutes this year, his numbers would've been where you would expect to find them. Even with everybody saying that he's had an off year ... he did finish eighth in the league in scoring and third in the league in free-throw shooting. You have a great player who can provide, and when you have that, you always have a chance.
Interviewed by Jenni Carlson