Heard It Through the Grapevine 2-1-09

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 1, 2009 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • David Moore points out that although the Mavs just finished their worst January run in a decade, they finished the month in style.  Who knows where the Mavs will go from here, but in these last two games they’ve looked awfully good.
  • One of the true Achilles’ heels of this (and any other) Mavs team is pick-and-roll defense, but last night, the Mavs had a bit of a breakthrough.  Sure, the Heat don’t exactly have a stable of premier finishers at the rim, but they do have this one guy named Dwyane Wade.  I hear he’s pretty good.  Mike Fisher of Dallas of DallasBasketball.com saw exactly what I saw, and that’s Dirk Nowitzki playing some excellent, aggressive pick-and-roll defense: “Miami tried to run pick-and-rolls that would victimize Dirk, and maybe even set Nowitzki up as having to guard the Heat star. But time after time, Dirk bodied into the screen, gummed up the works of the play, avoided allowing either one of the Miami players to get open, and provided time for Wade’s man to recover. He didn’t get picked for an eighth straight All-Star appearance on the strength of his pick-and-roll defense. But he’s going to get a little credit for it here.”
  • There has been one significant change that has been a flawless 2-0 so far: Kidd has taken over playcalling responsibilities.  The relationship between a head coach and a starting point guard is a strange beast, and one that I’m not sure Avery Johnson really got a handle on.  I’ve said that one of the primary differences between Avery and Rick Carlisle, despite Carlisle’s similarities to Avery in the past, has been Rick’s willingness to adjust and to compromise.  From David Moore of The Dallas Morning News: “Several players estimate that Carlisle called 70 to 80 percent of the plays in the first three months of the season and Kidd took the rest. That ratio has been reversed the last two games. “He’s orchestrating what goes on, and I’ll help out a little bit here and there,” Carlisle said. “He’s doing a great job of leading the guys who are out there on the court. We really need him in that role as a leader, as a guy calling the shots out there.” “
  • Marc Stein names Jason Terry to the “All-Harper Team” (named partially in honor of former Mav Derek Harper), an honor bestowed to the best active players to never have made an All-Star team.
  • Just like a lot of teams Dallas is playing against these days, the Heat seem poised for a rebound while the Mavs seem doomed to fade with their aging core.  David Moore of The Dallas Morning News doesn’t sound very optimistic: “Riley determined the Heat was in need of an overhaul soon after it won the title nearly three years ago. Only three players remain from that championship roster. That’s a stark contrast to the approach taken by the team that lost to Miami in the Finals. The Mavericks have doggedly clung to the belief that the franchise has a team that can win the championship. The only significant change made in its nucleus over the past 2 ½ seasons is Devin Harris and two first-round picks for Jason Kidd. The result is an aging core and team that appears to be marking time until another early playoff exit. Miami might not do any better than the Mavericks two months from now, but it has made the transformation to a young team on the rise.”
  • Despite criticisms and rumors, Josh Howard doesn’t want to anywhere.
  • Holger Gerschwindner, the man largely credited with picking Dirk out of the relative obscurity of German handball and throwing him headfirst into basketball, is apparently in the States and will be chilling with Dirk and the guys.  I can feel Avery scowling from here.
  • ‘Shock journalism’ is generally frowned upon, and one of the biggest, easiest criticisms of the blogosphere is that it relies too much on cheap entertainment that strives to be contrarian rather than insightful.  Everyone’s entitled to their opinions, as ridiculous as they may be, but as Jan Hubbard of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram points out, we may need to draw the line when Gary Payton tries to pick Al Jefferson over Tim Duncan for the All-Star team (especially when, umm, David West is sitting pretty as the resident faulty pick).  Some interesting questions are being asked, and the theme among them: has basketball analysis and telejournalism become so obsessed with its own perverse idea of entertainment that they’re forgetting what it’s all about?: “But why does Payton have to concoct such a ridiculous issue? Why does Mark Jackson have to say that Kobe Bryant is better than Michael Jordan? Why does Jeff Van Gundy have to say that Dirk Nowitzki is not one of the top three power forwards in the game because of questions Nowitzki has honestly answered about former coach Avery Johnson? How does an opinion limit your basketball skills? These guys are all experts. They are smart basketball men. They were excellent players and coaches. What we need from them is expertise, not silliness.”
  • Just in case you were having a good day, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel decides to rub 2006 in your face.