David Moore of the Dallas Morning News: “Parker is playing in a different stratosphere. Those are Carlisle’s words, not mine. The Mavericks must throw everything at him in Game 3. Traps. Zones. Blitz him from different spots the moment he puts the ball on the floor. ‘We know how great he is,’ Carlisle said. ‘We’re going to have to be a lot better with our team defense. I don’t know if anybody ever stops a guy like Parker. He’s so good and so fast. But we’re going to have to do better on him.’ The coaching staff rarely consults me on these matters. OK, never is a better word to use than rarely. But here’s my suggestion. Open the game in a zone and start Jason Terry. The zone impedes Parker’s great straight-line speed. The pick-and-roll between Parker and Tim Duncan is also a little easier to defend out of the zone. Terry’s value is on offense. The Mavericks must attack Parker on defense. They can’t allow him to catch his breath against Jason Kidd or Antoine Wright. Parker would open on Kidd, not Terry. But the Mavericks can force Parker to switch off the pick-and-roll and bounce him off a few Dampier screens, something they have a better chance of doing with Terry than Wright.” I couldn’t agree more. The Mavs need a kick in the pants offensively and defensively, and the combination of the zone and the JET cover both fronts. Eventually, the Mavs will need to show some accountability with their man defense, but hopefully the zone can slow Parker to a mortal point total.
Graydon Gordian of 48 Minutes of Hell, in response to my thoughts about Dirk’s mini-slump: “…Dirk Nowitzki is not Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, or even Chris Paul. My reaction has never been, ‘he’ll get his points; let’s shut down everyone else.’ I believe we can control the scope of the damage he causes. In order to do so the intensity of our defensive effort needs to be more than sophisticated; it needs to be ceaseless.” I hope we can say the same of the Mavs’ defense of Tony Parker.
Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News continues in a similar vein: “Guarding Nowitzki is not a one-man job. The Spurs have found success in crowding him on the catch, with players as disparate as Bonner and Bruce Bowen, then running other defenders at him on the dribble. The object is to coax Nowitzki to try tough jumpers from the perimeter or, better yet, give up the ball. Even then, the Spurs acknowledge there is only so much a defense can do against a 7-footer with 3-point range. ‘All we can do is make it difficult,’ Bonner said. ‘You can’t completely shut him down. You can only make him work for what he gets.’ The tactic of using a small army to hector Nowitzki isn’t exactly a reinvention of basketball strategy. The Mavericks deal with this close to 82 times a season. What is novel, in this series, is where some of the double-teams are coming from. The Spurs have been particularly aggressive in doubling Nowitzki at the high post, sometimes bringing an extra defender from under the basket. ‘I’ve never seen anybody do that,’ Nowitzki said.”
Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News: “The Mavericks, after reviewing the film of Game 2, know they didn’t have the pep in that game to keep pace with the Spurs. And as well as the Spurs played, it may not have mattered. San Antonio was outstanding. But whether or not the Spurs repeat that execution and effort, the Mavericks know they must upgrade theirs. ‘When we rebound, we’re in the game,’ Kidd said. ‘It doesn’t mean we’re going to win every game, but when you’re not rebounding – giving those guys second opportunities – they’re going to kill you. You could tell they were ready to play from the start and we were a little relaxed. We’ve got to get back to being aggressive.’”
Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News: “Bottom line: These guys know Erick Dampier. They play basketball with him. And he is not the mouth that roared Monday. ‘Nobody’s trying to hurt anybody, and Damp certainly doesn’t have the reputation of being a dirty player,’ Nowitzki said, leading him to conjure an example of a dirty player, which he provided, unprovoked. ‘They got one,’ he said of the Spurs. ‘We don’t.’…Meanwhile, the Mavs must play out of character a little bit. They must at least attempt to look tough. Get in someone’s way, for heaven’s sake. Maybe even make a Spur pay for taking advantage of their good nature. The Mavs just can’t afford to announce their intentions beforehand, no matter how much fun it was to read about it.”
The Morning News has Q&A’s with Mark Cuban and Team President Terdema Ussery. Both are wonderful reminders that regardless of you think of the Mavs as a team, they really are a top-notch franchise. Cuban claims to have only made a profit in two seasons of his ownership, and yet the interviews are littered with talk of winning over profit, constant improvement of the fan experience, and building/maintaining the organization’s image.
Kate Hairopoulos of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “Trying to get Dirk Nowitzki on track, point guard Jason Kidd said he won’t go out of his way to get him the ball. ‘I look for him less,’ Kidd said. ‘We’re not going to force it to him. There are other guys on the floor who can score. Work him into the game. He’s a veteran. He understands what he has to do.’ Nowitzki admitted having trouble with the high-post double-teams — with the Spurs essentially leaving the basket to help guard him — which he said he hasn’t seen before with the Spurs. He’s averaging just 16.5 points against San Antonio. ‘For a 7-footer, who’s non-athletic, it’s pretty hard to beat a double-team,’ he said. ‘I just have to take what’s there. … I think I’m going to have a few opportunities. But when I have them, I have to make sure I make the best out of them.’”