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Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis pick-and-roll looks good

Dirk Nowitzki

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) shoots during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies in Memphis, Tenn., Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)


Dirk Nowitzki is having a really strong preseason.

Yes, it’s preseason, so we’re going to be cautious about reading too much into this, but the fact is Nowitzki looks healthy (a big change from much of last season) and sharp again.

Plus he’s developing a strong pick-and-roll chemistry with Monta Ellis.

Watching them this preseason they have a connection that’s a bit unexpected but works with Ellis attacking and Nowitzki able to roll or flair out for a jumper. There are not Synergy numbers for preseason to break down how effective this is, but ESPNDallas charted it against Orlando Monday: 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting running that play in the second quarter alone.

Nowitzki feels that connection too, he told

“That’s probably going to be our bread and butter all season long,” said Nowitzki, who finished with 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting, although he was more focused on his failure to get a single rebound in 25 minutes….

“He’s great attacking,” Nowitzki said of Ellis. “He can go both ways. He’s been shooting the ball well behind the screen as well, so we really have a lot of options there. When he comes off and really strings the big out and I’m open, I’m going to step in and take those shots when I’m there.”

Dallas also has (but not yet this preseason due to a hamstring injury) Jose Calderon, one of the smarter pick-and-roll point guards in the league. He’s another guy who can shoot over the pick if the defender goes under, drive the lane or make a smart pass. He is going to fit into this mix when he returns.

It’s preseason, would could still see Monta go Monta (step-back contested long two) at points this season, but Dallas seems to be figuring out something that will work on offense and be very hard for teams to stop.