“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”
-Louisa May Alcott
- In light of everything that’s happened over the last two months (the Josh Howard Witch Trials, The Depression of 2010, and Tradeapalooza, in particular), this win should give Mavs fans a greater sense of optimism than any other this season. We’re starting to see how Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood fit in with this Maverick team, and the early returns are definitely promising.
- The story of the game is, without a doubt, the Mavs’ 19-0 run that spanned the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth. Even more impressive: the last 12 points of that run came without Dirk Nowitzki on the floor, as a lineup of Kidd-Terry-Butler-Marion-Haywood rattled off 12 uncontested in a little over three minutes. It was also an incredibly balanced run, as JET, Kidd, and Haywood chipped in five apiece and Dirk added four.
- Without such a terrific team-wide performance late in the game, the Mavs would’ve been doomed to a loss. Orlando put the pressure on the Dallas early by dropping 33 points in the first quarter (on 65% shooting) to the Mavs’ 23, including 20 points in the paint based on Howard’s strong start.
- Dwight Howard (29 points, 11-16 FG, 16 rebounds, five blocks) was incredible, but Brendan Haywood’s defense was nothing to scoff at. Dwight did a lot of damage in the first quarter against the Mavs’ inferior post defenders, and though Howard ended up with some pretty incredible totals, Haywood really did bother him with his length and strength. Howard had 10 touches against the rest of the Mavs, and either scored or drew a foul on eight of those possessions. But against Haywood? On 26 touches, Howard only scored or drew a foul on 11 possessions. I know it’s not rocket science to declare Haywood the Mavs’ best post defender, especially with Dampier absent, but those numbers are indicative of not only how well Brendan plays on-ball defense in the post, but also how well he denies position and the ball to opposing centers.
- J.J. Barea played just eight minutes, all of which came in the second quarter. But in those eight minutes, he did a surprisingly effective job of buoying the Maverick offense at a time where it looked to be in peril. The Mavs were doing a much better job defensively in the second quarter than they did in the first, holding the Magic to just 14 points in the quarter. The only problem? Dallas couldn’t score. Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry combined for five straight misses over the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, and aside from an Eddie Najera three with 7:03 on the clock, Barea had the only points of the first five minutes. Never underestimate the impact of a couple of buckets when a team is completely unable to score.
- Another game with a short rotation for the Mavs — only seven players played 10 minutes or more, and only eight played at all. For contrast, the Magic played ten players overall, nine of which played 10+ minutes. This could change when Erick Dampier comes back from injury or as Rick Carlisle sees more situational opportunities for Rodrigue Beaubois, but given the personnel the Mavs now have, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Carlisle run a tight rotation from this point forward.
- The key for Dallas was, again, balance; five Mavericks finished in double-figures, including 15 points on 10 shots for Haywood, 16 points on meh shooting from Butler, and a tidy 16 points, seven rebounds, and four assists from Terry.
- Caron Butler has not shot well in any of his first three games as a Maverick, but he is showing improvement. Right now he’s showing some skill in creating in one-on-one situations, but that’s where most of his looks are coming from. Butler’s having some trouble finishing around the basket (per HoopData’s Tom Haberstroh, “Caron Butler is a crisp 3-14 on layups since he joined the Mavericks.”) and is taking too many long jumpers (six of his eighteen attempts came between 16-23 feet away from the basket, and three of his attempts were threes), but as he gets more and more comfortable with the offense, his teammates will find him in positions more conducive to scoring efficiently. Think about the way Dirk plays. He gets the ball in most efficient spots on the floor, and then capitalizes by using his height and footwork and by relying on optimal court spacing. Right now, Butler’s left to pump fakes and crossovers, and while it’s getting him some points, he isn’t nearly as efficient as he could be.
- Re: above, it’s essentially the same for Brendan Haywood and defense. He’s playing well in one-on-one contests right now, but he clearly gets a bit lost in the rotations and in more complex coverages. It’s not a hole in Haywood’s game, just lack of familiarity with a defensive system he stumbled into barely a week ago (if that).
- The Magic, who are 8th in the league in three-point shooting percentage at 36.3%, shot a miserable 16% (4-25) from beyond the arc. Part of that is good shooters going cold, but the Mavs also appeared to be chasing the Magic off of the three-point line by design. Many of Orlando’s shooters, however, simply refused to be chased. Credit them for their perseverance, I guess, but the result was a lot of tough, contested jumpers.
Shot distribution data from HoopData.com.