The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 105, Washington Wizards 99

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 27, 2011 under Recaps | 5 Comments to Read

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You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.

  • Washington isn’t a particularly problematic matchup for Dallas, yet games between the two teams seem to be a bit more interesting than they should be. With a little over a minute and a half remaining in the fourth quarter, Jordan Crawford hit a pull-up jumper to erase the final points of the Maverick lead. Any team in the league can be dangerous in a one-and-a-half minute time frame, and facing that kind of scenario in a very winnable game is exactly what the Mavs should aim to avoid. Luckily, it didn’t matter; following Crawford’s make, Tyson Chandler scored on a tip-in, John Wall turned the ball over, and Dirk Nowitzki was fouled on a three-point attempt. That gave Dallas just the buffer they needed to secure a win, but this was far from a reassuring victory.
  • The Mavs’ defense wasn’t poor per se, but it certainly wasn’t good. The buckets surrendered in transition to Wall et al are understandable, but the more glaring breakdowns were those that occurred in half-court settings. As usual, the initial contests were strong, but the inability to secure defensive rebounds make things unnecessarily difficult. The Wizards posted a 20.4 offensive rebounding rate, and that effort combined with  low turnovers and decent shooting made Washington unexpectedly competitive. The rebounding has to get better; if JaVale McGee and Kevin Seraphin are giving Dallas trouble on the glass, what happens when the Mavs play even stronger rebounding clubs?
  • Tyson Chandler (23 points, 10-14 FG, 13 rebounds) was the game’s unquestioned standout, as the Wizards failed to account for his presence in any offensive setting. Just one dunk for your viewing pleasure:
  • Chandler’s most important bucket and his most emphatic bucket both came off of offensive rebounds, but Jason Kidd (three points, 14 assists, eight rebounds) set up Chandler for the bulk of his points. JaVale McGee is a skilled shot-blocker, but clearly lacks the defensive awareness to compete with a consistent lob threat.

  • Dallas played as well in their transition offense as they have all season, and produced some truly beautiful sequences. The ball movement was terrific throughout the game, but particularly so as the Mavs looked to set each other up for fast break finishes like this one:
  • Dirk Nowitzki (21 points, 6-18 FG, 9-11 FT, seven rebounds, three assists) had an understated impact, leaving Chandler, Shawn Marion (13 points, 4-6 FG, 10 rebounds, three turnovers), and Jason Terry (25 points, 10-18 FG, four assists) to soak in the limelight. Dallas doesn’t win this game without Nowitzki’s 11 free throw attempts, but Marion played a superb all-around game while Terry funneled in some efficient scoring to compensate for Nowitzki’s poor shooting night from the field. If I can dote on Marion’s game for just a second more: no Maverick does a better job of closing out on three-point shooters, and his speed and length paid off in challenging a Nick Young corner three attempt with under a minute remaining.
  • Chalk this one up as the first big hiccup in Rodrigue Beaubois’ (two points, 1-7 FG, three rebounds, three assists) return. Beaubois played just 13 minutes of action, and Carlisle was right to keep his minutes down; the Mavs’ designated savior was drawing back rim on all of his jumpers, and blew a wide open layup attempt at the start of the third quarter. The Mavs even tried to run a staple alley-oop set from their 2009-2010 repertoire to get Beaubois going, but the set ended in a mistimed jump and a missed layup.
  • Kirk Henderson

    I'd like some discussion over the rational of starting Peja and giving him heavy minutes. I was at this game; he simply can't move. His size and shooting touch are his only advantage but he comes off screens like a corpse and couldn't defend a chair. If it's because they are worried about him getting stiff on the bench, that's fine, but he's a 2nd team guy, not a first team guy. Just seems like we are shoehorning him into a spot where he's honestly playing like garbage.

    • Dallas Fan

      I'd consider moving Marion to the starting 3, making Peja his backup, and allowing Mahinmi to be Dirk's primary backup. So, Marion's minutes would be at the 3 exclusively except I guess in certain small-ball lineups where he plays the 4.

      I think it benefits Dallas because: (a) it reduces Peja's minutes and (b) Mahinmi is a good player. I think one specific area it could help is on the glass. Dallas has been slightly above average on the defensive glass all season, and really poor on the offensive glass (I think like 26-27 in ORR all year). Marion is a good rebounder, and he would get more minutes. Mahinmi is a good rebounder too. His career TRB% is 16.2%. His ORB% is a career high this year – 12.7%.

      More on Mahinmi – Wins Produced, Win Shares, and PER all have him as an above average player the past couple of years (albeit in limited minutes). He's 24. I think his contract for next year, which isn't guaranteed, is less than a million. I think he could be a good rotational player in the future, or perhaps a good trade chip for a deal within the next couple of years.

      Oh, and apologies to everyone for such a long comment.

      • Kirk Henderson

        I think its a good comment. I've been trying to determine why we are giving Peja minutes, but I can't seem to find any reason. The offense is predicated on getting certain personnel the ball on the floor in certain spots. The attempt to use Peja as Dirk-Lite is baffling because he's just not effective, or hasn't been thus far.

        I do understand the desire to have punch off the bench. But the Kidd-Roddy-Peja-Marion-Tyson line up just seems to stumble around and not get much done. I know they are working out the kinks, we should just be winning by more points. Instead for 2 straight games we've gotten down by a margin worth calling a TO over in the first 6 minutes all because the offense has been shooting poor shots. Peja isn't at fault for that, but he isn't helping either.

        • finzent

          I agree with the general point. I think one rationale for letting Peja start is that he's supposed to get a lot of open looks when he's on the floor with Dirk. Makes sense to me, except that it's not really happening until now.

  • Bgalella

    Kirk is right, Peja shouldn't be starting, Like the Tyson Chandler-Dirk Nowitzki-Shawn Marion front court.