A Glimpse of Light From a Distant Star

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 30, 2010 under Commentary | 21 Comments to Read

Without Rodrigue Beaubois, last night’s game would have been a disaster. The rookie jump-started the Mavs’ offense at a particularly vulnerable time in a way that no other Maverick could, or at least seemed willing to do: by getting to the basket. Driving to the hoop is not a specialty of either Jason Kidd or Jason Terry at this point in their careers, which leaves Beaubois and J.J. Barea as the lone penetrators among the Dallas guards. Barea had a pretty horrible night despite playing well in the series to that point, which made Beaubois’ ability to get to the basket all the more important.

So he drove. Over, and over, and over again. He drove past Tony Parker and George Hill, weaved through Antonio McDyess and Manu Ginobili, and finished around Tim Duncan. He was far and away the most dynamic Maverick on the floor in his 21 minutes of playing time, and it’s a damn shame that he didn’t play more. As I mentioned in the recap, not having Beaubois not playing in the fourth isn’t the reason the Mavs lost Game 6, though it could qualify as a reason. It’s hard to say, honestly, because as good as Beaubois was, it’s not like he was going to single-handedly shut down the Spurs’ pick-and-roll. Rodrigue wasn’t going to prevent George Hill from nailing open looks in the corner and he wasn’t going to protect the rim. He definitely would have given the Mavs another scoring option on the floor when they desperately needed one, and that counts for something, but his presence is not a cure-all.

However, Rick Carlisle’s decision to sit Beaubois in this series (and in the fourth quarter of Game 6, in particular) was a monumental error. Carlisle made a huge, huge mistake, and though it’s impossible to say whether or not it cost the Mavs this or that, there’s no question that having Beaubois on the floor would have put Dallas in a better position to win this series. Maybe the Spurs still would have made big plays and done the right things, because that’s kind of what the Spurs do, but I fail to see how having a scorer as productive and efficient as Beaubois on the floor would have hurt the Mavs in any significant way. He makes rookie mistakes from time to time and his defense isn’t perfect, but when the team is relying so heavily on Jason Terry to produce and he’s not producing, there doesn’t seem to be any harm in giving Beaubois some burn with the first unit.

That said, I understand Carlisle’s dilemma. Terry has proven in the past that even in terrible games, he’s able to bounce back to help in the fourth. Beaubois had yet to really prove himself in a playoff situation prior to Game 6, though through no fault of his own. JET was the easy pick, the comfortable pick, and in a bout of temporary insanity, Carlisle separated himself from the strategy he’s gone with for most of the season, and sat the player who was able to produce.

Then again, maybe that approach has never really applied to Beaubois. We saw Carlisle switch up lineups and alter the rotation as players succeeded or struggled, but the one player who seemed immune to all of it was Beaubois. No matter how well Rodrigue played, he could never carve out the consistent minutes he deserved, and only in similarly desperate times — when the Mavs faced injury or a serious match-up problem — was Beaubois considered a possible solution. It’s not easy for coaches to trust rookies, and I get that. The angle that Carlisle is coming from is fairly easy to understand. It’s just wrong, in this particular case.

Really, the problem wasn’t that Carlisle refused to play Beaubois during the fourth quarter of Game 6, but that he refused to play him for the bulk of the regular season. The reason why he didn’t trust Rodrigue during high-pressure moments in a crucial series was because he didn’t throw Beaubois into the fire enough during the initial 82. It’s not as if Beaubois would have been a complete liability; Rodrigue was third on the team in effective field goal percentage during the regular season and second in scoring per 36 minutes. Carlisle failed not because Beaubois wasn’t ready for the playoffs, but because he didn’t know just how ready Rodrigue was. The more playing time he received in the regular season, the better prepared he would have been for the added pressure (both in terms of expectation and the Spurs’ defense) of the postseason.

If Rick didn’t think Beaubois was a good pick-and-roll defender (which he’s not), he should have let him work through it in games and in practice. If he didn’t think Rodrigue could run the point effectively (which he still can’t, honestly; his best performances have been off the ball, and every second that Beaubois played in Game 6 was alongside Jason Kidd), he should have handed him the reins during a mid-season game against the Clippers.

Rick Carlisle did mishandle the appropriation of minutes in Beaubois’ case, the only problem is that it’s been going on for months. He should have been playing more the whole season, and only now has the error manifested itself in a way that secures national attention. Still, assigning blame for the Game 6 loss solely on that one substitution is ridiculous. It doesn’t fall in line with Carlisle’s claims to go with the lineups that work and perhaps Beaubois’ insertion back into the game with 2:44 remaining was too little, too late, but Dallas almost won the game regardless. The players on the floor couldn’t match the Spurs’ execution and lost the game on their own. That’s a team of proven veterans, leaders, and All-Stars just coming up a bit short. Again, it’s not that Beaubois couldn’t have helped, but that his exclusion offers a convenient excuse that disguises the team’s real problems.

  • Jeff

    Don’t forget that Butler was sitting with Roddy which left the Mavs with only one person who could score the basketball. Fairly easy for the Spurs to play good D with a center who can’t score backed by a small forward, shooting guard, and point guard who also can’t put the ball in the hoop. Not taking anything away from the Spurs because they were awesome, but it sucks that the team coach only seemed to accelerate their awesomeness with bad decisions.

  • Cynthia

    Beaubois not playing in the 4th may not be the only reason they lost, but his play in the 2nd and 3rd is definitely the reason the MAVS got back into this game after being down as much as 24pts. And that fact alone should have been the reason Ivory played Roddy ALL 12 minutes of the final quarter….rookie or not. I wonder what the excuse is for Caron sitting most of the 4th? Doesn’t really matter what the excuse is….Carlisle screwed up big time. Just wish he would man-up and admit it.

  • Collin

    JET honestly just looks done sometimes. His jumper is nowhere near as crisp as it used to be and him going to the basket is nowhere near as effective as it used to be. When you add in that he is a defensive liability I just think he really hurts the Mavs with how he pulls minutes from what I consider better options (Butler, Beaubois).

    I also would add that generally he takes too many jumpshots and further contributes to the fact that the Mavs get in these lulls where they just feel like shooting. Its almost as if they see Dirk do it and think it must not be that hard. The fact is that it is about time that Dallas realizes the formula for winning will be to surround Nowitzki and his terrific brand of basketball with slashers who can keep the defense off its heels and allow Nowitzki to be most efficient. I feel comfortable saying this series would have been quite different if Beaubois played since he does present that style. What is really interesting to think about though is that it was Popovich who made the same decision with George Hill last year that Carlisle made with Roddy this year. I can only hope Beaubois’s situation turns out the same way.

  • Cynthia

    I’m not one to scream “fire the coach” if he makes some bad choices, but I’ve lost all the respect I had for the man…and if he got fired (which I don’t think he will) I certainly wouldn’t shed a tear.

  • http://fresnobeach.com darryl howerton

    simple stat: when brendan haywood played 30+ minutes, mavs were 12-1; when he didn’t, mavs were 13-10 … carlisle messed up a good thing.

  • http://Nugglove.com JR

    You see coaches bench rookies all the time in that situation. As a Nuggets fan I’ve seen George Karl bench Ty Lawson in favor of Anthony Carter. Is it the right decision? In my eyes it isn’t but I’m also not coaching in the NBA or have proven anyway I can. But I love Beaubois, the Mavs have gotten themselves a great point guard for the future.

  • Justin

    Wow guys! I believe that Carlisle has done a great job with the Mavs and would be very disappoint if he were to leave. He constantly gets teams to produce at a level above where their talent should be.

    I mean, other than Dirk, is there a single player on the roster who actually performs up to reputation? They are quality players for sure, but its not like the team is overloaded with stars here.

    I say there is no way the team would have been able to accomplish what they have the last two years without Rick Carlisle

  • De Dreier

    @Cynthia

    Not only did you lose all respect for RC, so did I. That might not be the problem but I also think that the relationship between Dirk and RC is now VERY problematic.

    Terry played a horrible series (and a bad year despite his ok stats) and the coach could not handle it. He messed up the center situation and his biggest mishandling was the RB situation as this article rightfully pointed out.

    How could Dirk trust RC after he effectively wasted one of his last prime years?

    The situation is seriously messed up now. If we assume that Dirk wants to stay (thats sure for me), how can he still rely on megachoker Terry and RC, who blew a very winnable series?

  • De Dreier

    Totally forgot to mention what a superdesaster Kidd was for me. He deserves a post on his own. He totally let the franchise down and lets face it… he is totally done. Screw the nice “moving pictures” feature but Kidd is totally over. Nice for the RS but absolutely worthless in a play-off series.

    Btw is there any starting point in the west he can outplay besides Fisher? At least from the play-off teams all are better set on point…

  • Brayden

    @De Dreier

    Just thought I’d throw this out there. Najera made a comment about how Kidd got “sick with the flu and some other things” right before the series with San Antonio started.

    Kidd doesn’t make excuses, and maybe neither should we, but it is interesting to consider. I’m not claiming Kidd is a top point guard option in the West, but when he’s playing well, he was good for this team. Maybe at his age he needs to be 100% to do that though. Maybe he just wasn’t 100% this series. Throw in a couple of statistically abberrant missed shots, and there you have it: a horrible series.

    In any event, our problems this series ran much deeper than just the play of Kidd.

  • harry

    Hey Rick – we are going to keep turning your roster over, give you four or five former all stars with still all star egos to manage, two starting centers who will be competive in a passive agressive wierd girly way, no shooting guard what so ever, a point guard who is all world yet, somehow, strangely limited in the whole score the basketball thing – but don’t forget to bring along the rookie!
    I understand people being upset with coaching choices, but really, looking from the outside in, I don’t envy the job he had this season. Did he make mistakes? By the barrel. However, I don’t hear people acknowledging what an intimidating task he had on his hands this year. We all said after the Haywood/Butler trade that this was a whole new team, and everything was going to have to be different, ect. We seem to forget that those Clipper games were spent trying to work out the rotation and roles for all 12 players, who, if nothing else, defied working out by thier maddening inconsistancy. Even Roddy was that way – he would shine against one team, and then come in and be invisable and look overwhelmed against the next.
    I don’t think laying the blame at the feet of any one person is productive in this case. Our whole team under performed and its the team dynamic that has to change.

  • harry

    P.S. Awesome picture Rob.

  • Cynthia

    Jason Kidd certainly wasn’t the player out there that ran this team in the regular season. And I did read in a couple of places that either he had the flu (espn) or as db.com reported an inner ear problem. And I know Kidd isn’t like D-Wade who LOVES to complain how he’s playing either “sick or hurt” but he’s soooo strong willed and suuuch a great player he’ll suck it up and give you 40 anyway…..but it would’ve been nice to know as a MAVS fan that he wasn’t 100%. A J-Kidd who IS 100% would have definitely made a difference in this series….as well as the Slick Rick going with the hot hand instead of the “seasoned veteran” who couldn’t put the ball in the ocean much less the basket.

  • crispy

    Look as long as Dirk is #1 on the team we will never win a championship….Think about it! Regardless of what went wrong this post season. Also we need a inside threat and im not referring to Damp.

  • Kirk Henderson

    Great read.

  • Andrew

    I agree with every bad thing said about Carlisle on here. All of the blame can’t be put on the coach, but a significant portion can. Terry played in the fourth SIMPLY because of his reputation. What was Marion doing playing so much in the fourth? Why suddenly start Dampier in the regular season when your promising young center is consistently putting up 10 points and 10 boards a game?

    And as far as Beaubois goes, he didn’t get adequate playing time precisely because he was a rookie. This is the only reason. And it’s a disgrace when dealing with a team of (inefficient) jump shooters not to put a young version of Tony Parker (except with a better jump shot) on the floor.

  • jackso

    Good post Rob. As one who thinks Carlisle and Terry lost this series for us, it is hard to think that we will likely have to live with these two folks next year. Our hope is that Carlisle will come out and admit his mistakes (regarding Beaubois and the centers) and learn from them. With Terry, our hope is that his role gets limited more and more. His lack of defense makes him an awful fit with Dirk and exposes our frontline to easy drives. We need to find another young athletic player or two (not superstars) who are eager to play defense and then we can give it one more go with Dirk and Butler and supporting cast.

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