No Game Is an Island: Plan of Attack

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 2, 2009 under Previews | 12 Comments to Read

The Dallas Mavericks visit the Oklahoma City Thunder
7:00 CST

I love the home-and-home.  It’s one of the regular season’s greatest creations, and what it lacks in variety it makes up for in intrigue.  It’s almost like a mini-playoff, usually against a team that you would never, ever, under any circumstances play in the playoffs.  Which is cool.

The Mavs and the Thunder are practically playing a home-and-home, although not entirely.  The Mavs played the Raps and the Thunder played the Grizzlies, but the overtimer in Dallas is still fresh on everyone’s minds.

The game’s in OKC this time around, and the Thunder are still decidedly lacking in the Durantula department.  Again, a pity.  In his absence, though, the Thunder are playing like wounded tigers with laser eyes and rabies, pushing the Mavs to the limit and taking down the Grizz.  They don’t need the best small forward in the West, apparently.  KD is expected to miss out on tonight’s game with the same ankle troubles, meaning OKC gets another crack at the Mavs.  This is where it gets tricky.  On one hand, you’d expect the better equipped team to take care of business in the second game.  They know what to expect from Green and Westbrook, and don’t have their gameplan scrambled around by planning for Durant.  On the other, a previously hungry OKC team may now be nothing short of ravenous, and could feast on a the Mavs if they show up even the least bit lacksidasical.  Or will a team with few offensive options outside of Kevin Durant snap out of it and realize what they really are?  SO MANY VARIABLES, PEOPLE.

Regardless of the turnout, last week’s preface provided a backdrop to an otherwise meaningless game.  No offense to the Thunder, but without Durant they’re small fries.  But, armed with the knowledge that this team is capable of getting all up in their biznass, the Mavs should be able to respond in ways that capitalize on the differential in talent and the fairly transparent strategy the Thunder will no doubt employ.  Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook are both awesome, but can they really beat the Mavs on their own when Dallas knows what’s coming?

EDIT: Thanks for the heads up from commenter Marrrkus – Jeff Green will not play tonight (back spasms).  Source.

  • Michael Wu

    You gotta love that Dick Motta’s theory on the wounded tiger. almost proved to be true the last game!
    Sorry i’ve been gone for so long Robert Matthew Mahoney, but my comp is broken, but i’m back now!
    Although I feel like the Thunder have used up their Wounded Tiger abilities with the two games since KD (counting the dallas one). A wounded tiger my fight harder, but eventually it dies. And i think The OKC tiger is dead.

  • Marrrkus

    Jeff Green is out anyway.

  • Kevin

    How is this happening? Am I the only one who hasn’t had a moment where he was that impressed with the Mavs all year? I don’t get to see many games but i always check the boxscore/recaps. The team just seems underwhelming this year. Sad.

  • http://www.thetwomangame.com Rob Mahoney

    It’s happening because the Mavs don’t take many people seriously on defense. We’re currently losing to Nenad Krstic, Thabo Sefolosha, and Kyle Weaver. Ugh. On top of that, Josh Howard is done for the game with a sore left ankle.

    They’ve definitely underwhelmed, but you’ve never been impressed at all? They’ve definitely had games and stretches that warranted praise, and that’s part of the reason they’re so aggravating.

  • Kevin

    I can’t really remember a convincing win against a good team that was at full strength, they’ve struggled against the good teams in general. Also, I think either Dirk is slipping or he’s just worn out from having to carry too much of the load offensively. I only see him on the national tv games but he hasn’t looked great in any of those except one game against Pheonix, he doesn’t drive as much, or rebound as well (those could both be the defense loading up on him since most of the season he’s had only one other scorer on the court with him). I assume you get all the games what do you think?

  • Kevin

    Oh, just remembered, the win in Orlando when Nelson got injured was pretty impressive.

  • http://www.thetwomangame.com Rob Mahoney

    I don’t see it. Dirk’s had some bad games, but for the most part it’s same ol’, same ol’. The reason the Mavs aren’t at 2005-2006 or 2006-2007 levels is mostly because of the defense and the injuries.

    The Orlando win was definitely nice. The signature wins have been few and far between, but to say they haven’t impressed at all may be taking it one step too far.

  • Kevin

    Dirk’s PER according to Hollinger is his lowest dating back to at least 02-03 (that’s as far back as it shows) and considerably lower than his peak levels a few years ago.

  • wacc_attack

    complete embarrassment. im calling it – we’re missing the playoffs. if we make it, we dont deserve to

  • http://www.thetwomangame.com Rob Mahoney

    Kevin: True. But just like you said, Dirk’s carrying more of the offensive load than ever, and the pieces around him have been inconsistent, injured, or ineffective. His efficiency and production are down a peg, but it’s not a matter of Dirk decreasing in skill.

    wacc: Not a game to remember. I still think the Mavs will find their way to the postseason, and don’t overestimate Shaq’s “resurgence” in Phoenix. Matt Moore (of Hardwood Paroxysm) once described Shaq in this recent stretch to me as a ‘false prophet,’ and I’m inclined to agree.

  • Kevin

    I’m not even sure what team we’d want to face come postseason, the only one i think we could beat is Portland, maybe Denver.

  • wacc_attack

    Rob, I say that based on the fact that all the teams we are in a dogfight with for one of the 6 spots manage to beat quality teams while shorthanded – they overcome adversity. We, on the other hand, always seem to fold. LA perhaps is not the best example, as their depth exceeds even ours from a few years ago (remember the good old days when we were called the deepest team in the league….), and thus losing Bynum was no biggie. But look at Utah which battled all year long with their top 2 and at times 3 players out for loooooong stretches. Look at Phoenix which, fielding such “sick ballers” as Matt Barnes and Barbosa, and without Nashie and Amare manages to take it to LA. And us? We get blown out by a sorry, no backbone, blow every close game theyre in team which is missing theyre top 2 players. The excuse that it was one game doesnt hold here; it might have the first month of the season. We were at full strength, knowing full well we NEEDED that victory in case god forbid we drop the next two. And we fold. Again. We show no effort for 3 quarters, let 2nd rd picks and dudes who played in Russia last year walk all over our three/four so-called All Stars and two future Hall of Famers. Somehow a team that was automatic in the 4th became the meltdown leaders of the leage (maybe save OKC). Im actually curious to see those stats, the largest +/- in the 4th quarter of lost games – willing to put some cash on us being atop that list, or very close. Home opener, blew a lead in the 4th. Then the lakers at home, again. Orlando was a meltdown of epic proportions. The Hornets at home, Boston. Houston on the road. Not to mention the blow outs in Boston or at the Bucks. This used to never happen; losing by 10 was a tragedy that would spur a 10 game winning streak. We dont have the mental fortitude to close out class teams in big games in the clutch, we just dont. I pray Im wrong, but I really dont see us making the playoffs UNLESS the guys have a heart to heart before the game tomorrow night and just will us to a victory.