The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 112, Golden State Warriors 103

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 13, 2012 under Recaps | 4 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Golden State112.051.228.433.317.4

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

  • Considering that every NBA team should be expected to make a run at some point or another, this game went quite well. One could demand better maintenance of a double-digit margin, want particular players to score more effectively against such lackluster defense, or pick nits here with Dallas’ occasionally odd execution, but in a general sense it’s hard to look down on an effort where Jason Kidd (nine points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds, three steals, two blocks, two turnovers) made a real impact, Rodrigue Beaubois (11 points, 5-9 FG, five assists, one turnover) was among the more constructive forces on the floor, the reserves managed 57 points, and Dirk Nowitzki (27 points, 10-23 FG) was Dirk Nowitzki. This certainly wasn’t a spotless performance, but it was another quality outing at a time when Dallas can’t afford anything less.
  • For the pessimists out there: the Mavs’ execution of the pick and roll seemed fairly lazy at times, as Kidd and Delonte West in particular were completely derailed in their pocket-pass attempts. Things will certainly have to get crisper in that regard, and the transition defense could still use plenty of improvement. Neither of those shortcomings was enough of a problem to put Dallas’ efforts in serious jeopardy, but they could prove more costly if they persist against better competition.
  • In their current form, the Warriors are a perfectly miserable basketball team. There were some decent individual efforts on Thursday, but overall the team’s operation is reminiscent of a confined gas; they’re objects floating within the limits of a particular space, toward no end in particular and without any coherence of movement or purpose. The Mavs’ defensive inattentions afforded the Warriors the space to make their random bounces seem constructive, but this is a team in disarray, to say the least.

  • Beaubois attempted the ol’ fake timeout in the middle of the second quarter, but seemed to be derailed by either the referee’s quick whistle or coaches walking onto the court in anticipation of play stopping. Hang your heads, friends: a golden opportunity for trickery was lost on Thursday night.
  • There seemed to be the slightest reason for concern over Dirk Nowitzki’s lack of involvement in the regular offense over the last few games, but the focus with which Dallas exploited Dirk’s mismatches in the fourth quarter should put every worry to bed. Dominic McGuire was completely victimized by Nowitzki’s systematic work from the left block, and when Golden State dared to throw a double-team his way, it opened up perimeter looks for Mavericks all over the floor. It was very basic and familiar shot creation, but the kind that’s nonetheless nice to see after Nowitzki had put together a few oddly passive performances.
  • Beaubois has seemed disenchanted with the simplicity of his basic alley-oop play the last handful of times the Mavs have run it, and has on multiple occasions attempted to add a little flavor. His rendition on Thursday:

  • David Lee’s (30 points, 11-20 FG, eight rebounds, five turnovers) virtually ambidextrous game seemed to give Brandan Wright (16 points, 6-8 FG, nine rebounds, two blocks) fits defensively. It almost feels mean to pick on the guy after he had such a strong offensive outing and put together one of his best rebounding performances of the season, but Wright was baffled by the prospect of guarding a player with Lee’s skill set, and seemed to anticipate the wrong move with startling consistency. It obviously wasn’t Wright’s fault alone that Lee went off for 30, but he was well involved in the process, and ceded plenty of open looks by playing the wrong spin, the wrong angle, or the wrong hand.
  • Shawn Marion’s (seven points, 2-8 FG, 12 rebounds, five OREBs) effort is almost never in question (even when his focus happens to be), but he was again a one-man flurry on the glass against a Warriors team that seems to abstain from boxing out on principle. Marion’s temporary lack of touch around the rim killed any chances he had of converting tip-ins and put-backs, but he wormed his way to an offensive rebound on five different occasions, and grabbed many of his seven defensive rebounds through straight hustle. I don’t want to prop up the silly cliché that Player x “wanted it more,” but on the small scale of a loose ball opportunity, Marion just seemed to want it more than damn near everybody.
  • Klay Thompson’s (24 points, 8-17 FG, 3-6 3FG, seven rebounds, eight assists) scoring has drawn plenty of attention during the Warriors’ stretch run, but I’ve been impressed with his complete floor game. No one will soon confuse him with a primary playmaker, but Thompson has good skills and better instincts — he’s a nice passer, a solid ball-handler, and a good shooter, and seems to have a good enough grasp on the game to utilize those assets in meaningful ways. He and Steph Curry may not be a dream backcourt, but that’s a fun, young pairing with some lofty offensive potential.
  • Kirk Henderson

    I wonder, can Dirk “turn it on” when it comes time to play every other night for the duration of the playoffs? Granted, missing shots will happen, but his defensive intensity rivals Lamar Odom's passion for vegetables the last few games. He's never been stellar, but he's also rarely so lazy. I think the answer is yes, but excellence is also a habit.

    Tonight might we see a Kelenna siting? Blazers are beat UP.

    • Matt Hulme

      I'd like to think that -at least on the defensive end- Dirk is sort of saving himself for the playoffs. It sounds as logical as it does absurd, especially considering the risk of laying off the gas while the risk of missing the playoffs entirely still looms overhead, but at the same time, here's a guy that this time last year everyone was saying had lost a step, was still very good but no longer great, and it's just too bad he'll never get a ring with the team he just locked himself into (situationally) long-term. And we all know who wrote the closing chapters of that book (JET – kidding): Dirk.

      All that said, Dirk's game has never been one of power or flash, but of a slow, calculated burn in the context of today's game. He won't kill you with a flying jam over your biggest defenders, and he's never going to be a guard off the dribble, but he's never needed to and he's easily one of the 25 greatest players in history. His defense has always been the calling card of his still-somehow-numerous doubters, but you know what? He's honestly NOT THAT BAD. He's one of the more underrated help defenders in the league (which may sound like a back-handed compliment, but it's not intended that way at all), and though he does occasionally (more so recently, as you pointed out, Kirk) take plays (or stretches of games) “off” on that side of the court, I've never once questioned his DESIRE out there like I do with more traditionally selfish players like Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson.

      Dirk still closes out on outside shooters and he's almost always aware of the defensive switches. He's never going to be the best defender on the court and I would never expect him to be. (Though sometimes, when Dirk doesn't get his hands UP on a shot, it drives me a little insane.) All I need is that level of desire and intensity we all know Nowitzki's capable of come playoff time. And I'm sure he'll be ready. They just have to make sure they get there first.

      • Jensen Matlock

        I agree with you Kirk – Dirk has looked a little slower than normal on D this year.  I think this happens most when Wright is playing center.  Not to pile on Wright cause he has been great this season, but his defensive rotation and spacing are not very good yet and Dirk is certainly not a good enough defender to cover up anyone else's deficiencies.

        Dirk has played with defensive first centers most of his career – Bradley, Dampier, Diop, Chandler, and Haywood (we'll leave Raef out of this).  Say what you will about the first three (slow-footed, foul-prone, cement hands, etc) but they're all guys that altered shots, kept guys out of the paint, and limited Dirk's defensive exposure.  While I'm sure Dirk will pick up his defensive intensity in the playoffs, I think he will still have some problems when Wright and to a lesser extent Mahinmi are out there with him.

        Wood's minutes have continued to get slashed so we'll see if his minutes are going to be based on the situation (like guarding Duncan for instance) or if Rick is just interested in playing a faster, more energetic center.

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