The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 118, Utah Jazz 99

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 24, 2011 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

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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…except this time, only kind of, and not really.

  • Deron Williams is one of the best point guards in the league, and his absence for the Jazz — as he currently resides in trade limbo and will soon make his debut for the New Jersey Nets — significantly changed the way this game progressed and the way we should view it. If Utah had their complete roster (with Devin Harris and Derrick Favors) to work with, the Mavs would have faced significantly more resistance. However, a team with Earl Watson running the show is just a bit different than one with Williams or Harris at the helm. The Jazz had been pretty inconsistent this season with their team more or less intact, but to take away their best player and starting point guard — while Utah transitions into life after Jerry Sloan, no less — remove some of this win’s significance.
  • Still, a game is a game, and there is some insight to be gleaned from 48 minutes against any team out there. Dallas had some trouble early on offense (primarily due to their eight turnovers in the frame, which were more their own doing than Utah’s), but really cranked up their production as the game went on. It’s the balance of this team that continues to surprise me; again, the Mavs had an impressive number (seven) of double-digit scorers to complement Dirk Nowitzki’s 23 points on 15 shots. The starters played well enough to keep their minutes down, and the reserves were rewarded with some extra playing time. High fives all around.
  • The temptation to read too far into wins like this one is always present, and should put an asterisk on any conclusions you or I try to draw from this particular game. That said, I can’t help but wonder if the Mavs have finally found an offensive formula that really works. They don’t have that second star on-par with a Pau Gasol or a Paul Pierce, but by adding Rodrigue Beaubois (10 points, 4-6 FG, four assists) and Peja Stojakovic (18 points, 7-9 FG, 4-5 3FG) to the rotation while benefiting from more impressive contributions from J.J. Barea (13 points, 5-8 FG, five assists), Dallas has created an interesting scoring framework. I’m not sure all of Dallas’ scorers can be contained on a nightly basis, and though it’s not entirely necessary for opponents to systematically seek and destroy every scoring threat on the floor, there’s comfort in knowing that the Mavs will have most teams beat in scoring depth.
  • Another interesting wrinkle to that idea is that it makes the Mavs much more difficult to scheme against. The San Antonio Spurs, for example, teched specifically against Jason Kidd and Jason Terry in last year’s playoffs. Their plan worked to great effect; the offense stalled when the pressure increased on Kidd, and San Antonio ensured that Terry wouldn’t provide Nowitzki with the scoring complement he so sorely needed. However, the Spurs looked positively puzzled when trying to defend Beaubois, and Caron Butler was able to explode for a few big scoring nights. Teams can try to take away certain elements of the Maverick offense, but if any team invests too heavily in trying to stop any player aside from Dirk, Rick Carlisle can call an audible and shift the offensive flow.
  • Interesting note: Dallas shot 50% from the field or better in every quarter, and 57.9% from the field overall. That total is a season high.
  • Stojakovic is a much better fit with this team than I imagined he would be. Considering his age and injuries, I expected Stojakovic to be a relatively stationary element of the offense; he seemed destined to be tethered to a corner and spot up ad infinitum. But what’s impressed me most has been Stojakovic’s movement. He’s not content to rely on others to create shots for him — he actively looks to create new passing angles and new open zones from the floor. His release is much quicker than that of, say, DeShawn Stevenson, and thus he’s a much better catch-and-shoot option than Stevenson when he’s running around screens or coming off a curl cut. Stojakovic is more than just a spot-up option, and his movement in the offense adds a pretty interesting dimension to this team.
  • You’ll have to forgive me: the trade deadline beckons, and this installment of The Difference will have to be cut well short of its point-differential quota. Just imagine there are 12 more bullet points here, each a tribute to one of Brendan Haywood’s 12 on Wednesday. The guy is playing his best basketball of the season, and instilling new confidence in the non-starting end of the Mavs’ D5 rotation. Tyson Chandler, a motivated Brendan Haywood, and Ian Mahinmi — it doesn’t get much better than that.
  • Aditya Challa

    Paul Pierce is the number one scoring option for Boston!