Deron Williams goes home ... with a purpose

USA TODAY Sports

To recap, last July, Rick Carlisle and Donnie Nelson met with Deron Williams in New York to talk contract. Mark Cuban wasn't there. He was producing a crucial episode of "Shark Tank," his reality show about entrepreneurs. Dirk Nowitzki wasn't there either. He was in Germany. The Mavericks, or whoever were repping them, offered D-Will $70 million over four years, $5 less than they could have. They explained what they intended to do with the extra money he would leave on the table. D-Will was not impressed and rejected the Mavs offer, signing a five-year deal with the Nets worth $99 million.

Then, when Williams was struggling, Cuban talked about how it was fortunate that he didn't sign the point guard he had cleared cap space for. Instead, he talked about happy he is with his rebuilding strategy.

Now D-Will is returning to his hometown, for the first time since those comments. Expect fireworks.

The Mavericks are currently three games out of the playoffs, three games under .500. They will have to pass the Jazz and Lakers to make the playoffs. They are an offensive powerhouse but less so on defense, as evidenced by their 127-113 victory over the Hawks. They shot 57 percent overall and 59 percent from three; but the Hawks shot 56 percent overall and 38 percent from three. Of course, unlike the the Nets, the Mavericks beat the Hawks.

The Mavs have a lot of motivation. They are at home for six games. They need to win if they are going to make the playoffs, about a 1-in-7 shot say oddsmakers. If they don't, it will be the first time in 13 years Cuban won't have playoff tickets. Also, they're refusing to shave until they're at .500. That's pretty motivating too.

Dirk Nowitzki has been the old Dirk the last five games, hitting his best stretch since returning fron surgery. In that stretch, he's averaged 19.6 points and 9.2 boards, shooting 50.7 percent overall and 52.6 percent from three. Vince Carter, who the Mavs are pushing as Sixth Man of the Year candidate, is also shooting better than 50 percent from three over that five-game stretch. And for the time this season, Anthony Morrow played well against the Hawks, shooting 3-of-4, scoring eight points and handing out three assists.

The Nets are healthy, with Keith Bogans and Kris Humphries expected back. And D-Will is expected to continue his work of late. Brook Lopez, who had 19 points for the Nets in their loss to the Mavs in Brooklyn, is averaging 26.3 points on 61.4 percent shooting in four games against Dallas since 2010-11 - his third-highest scoring title against any opponent.

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