In case you didn’t notice, there was no Grapevine yesterday. Apparently there are only so many synonyms for “embarassment,” “blow-out,” and “complete and utter destruction.” Pity. Oh well, let’s kick it.
- The Mavs offense isn’t exactly the bell of the ball, but the D is definitely the girl who tears her dress, spills punch all over herself, and breaks a heel when she tries to leave, crying. That’s probably putting it mildly. Via Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News, Dirk harps on the Mavs’ defensive deficiencies: ” “You name it. Pick-and-roll. One-on-one containment. Transition. Rebounding. Rebounding actually is OK. But it’s all over the place. We got some work to do.” “
- The same Sefko article has a lot of quotes from around the team concerning the Mavs “making their run” in the Western Conference race. It could just be a strange coincidental slip of several tongues, or possibly the way the quotes are framed, but it all oozes a bit of arrogance. If everything is going well, this team is capable of playing at a much higher level than they’re playing now. But the problem is that they are absolutely clueless as to how they’re going to harness that power. It’s as if they’ve unearthed a safe filled with precious goods, and plan on calling the locksmith in the morning and being done with it. But unless Darrell Armstrong is going to single handedly make the fringe Mavs into good perimeter shooters, turn Josh Howard into a premier defender, keep Dampier motivated game-in and game-out, and significantly change the way the Mavs play team defense on almost every possession, I’d say it’s easier said than done. We’re not biding our time. “Waiting too long” to make a run isn’t an issue; we should be worried about making a run at all.
- Randy Hill of FOX Sports ends up rehashing tired, false maxims, including the famous angles of “Dirk as a playoff failure” and “Kidd as a fast-breaking dependent.” Nevermind the fact that Dirk has averaged 25.4 points and 11.1 rebounds for his career (that’s a 24 PER, holmes) or that Kidd’s New Jersey teams played at andante. Still, his negativity concerning the short-term future of the franchise is surely something he shares with some Mavs fans: “Where do they go from here? Or, better yet, how can they be more efficient in hiring players? Well, upgrading the talent level will be tricky. Dallas has almost $69 million already committed to next year’s payroll, with Josh Howard, Jason Terry and Erick Dampier signed up to make around $10 million each. Superstar salaries for less than superstar players may make Cuban seem generous when the contracts are signed, but with those employees joining Dirk to win at a .568 clip, it makes for a weak financial case. Good luck trading one of those cats for anything or anyone of value or consequence.”
- Jeff Caplan of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has some interesting numbers on the Mavs’ shooting from distance: “It’s no secret the Mavs need help with the 3-ball. Entering Tuesday’s games, they ranked seventh in the league in 3-pointers attempted per game (20.5), but just 25th in percentage made (33.7). Dallas shot better on the last road trip, three times hitting for 40 percent or better from behind the arc as it went 2-for-2. Jason Kidd, oddly the team’s most consistent long-ball threat this season, made 11 of the team’s 25 3-pointers on the four-game trip, accounting for 44 percent of the Mavs’ makes.”
- Sports Illustrated‘s Jack McCallum, Chris Mannix, and Steve Aschburner all pick the Mavs to miss the playoffs. But I tend to agree with Ian Thomsen: “We can talk all we want about all of the different reasons one or another team will fail, but injuries and trades will define the race. Utah has been hurting all season, and for the moment I’m thinking the Jazz without Carlos Boozer are the most likely outsiders among the contenders.”
It hasn’t gotten much play, but Andrei Kirilenko could miss significant time if his ankle doesn’t improve “over the next two or three days.“ He’s not a starter, but he’s arguably been Utah’s second most important player to date. Couple his status with Carlos Boozer’s ambiguous return, and you could have a team that’s waiting, waiting, waiting, and shown the door come April.
- Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com breaks down Josh Howard’s monopoly on the first possession of the game. He’s taking a lot of the Mavs’ first shots, and the stats aren’t pretty. That said, Fish does offer a disclaimer that should entice a “Mmhmm,” among those familiar with the Dallas offense: “If the five guys on the floor are Dirk and Josh, and then, say,Kidd, Wright/George and Damp. … maybe Josh Howard SHOULD be taking two or three of the first five or six shots.”
Fish urges readers to look at the data and analyze for themselves, and that’s a good idea. Check it out.
- Oh no. Please, don’t let it be true. OH DEAR LORD DON’T LET IT BE TRUE. My words of advice to Mark Cuban (who confirmed a potential exploratory interest to Tim MacMahon of The Dallas Morning News Blog): just think the situation through before you do anything rash, like sign Marbury. And then, if you still think signing Marbury would be a good idea, still don’t do it. It’s for the best.