According to Kevin Pelton, NBA analyst for Basketball Prospectus and ESPN Insider, the Dallas Mavericks ranked first overall in terms of pace heading into Monday’s slate of preseason games. Despite having new players in the mix, the Mavericks have definitely been impressive from the standpoint of pace. For those who don’t know, pace is an advanced statistic that is an estimate of the number of possessions per 48 minutes.
The top five list contained Dallas at 97.8, Houston at 97.5, San Antonio at 97.4, Orlando at 96.1 and Philadelphia 95.4. With the top three residing in the Southwest division, we might be in store for a lot of windshield wiper basketball. “We want to play fast with the personnel we have, for sure,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’re working on it. At times, it looks like we’re getting it and getting there. The high turnovers short circuit that so quickly.”
Carlisle noted that the Mavericks reviewed the film of the game against the Atlanta Hawks. Out of the 19 turnovers, Carlisle felt that maybe only one of two of them were due to the impact the Hawks had on defense. There are a couple of ways where the turnovers could ruin the tempo. It could be due to decision making, bad passes or bad catches. So which one is the biggest culprit? “Yes, yes and yes,” Carlisle said sarcastically, indicating that it’s everything. “We’re just making mistakes. We’ve got to correct it. We’ll keep studying it, keep working on it and we’ll get better”
It was mentioned in The Rundown that Carlisle’s comedic timing has been as sharp as a tack. It was on display again when he discussed the turnovers. “We’re doing it every way you can do it,” Carlisle said of the turnovers. “If we were a sex manual, it’d be a best seller.” Short circuiting the aggression is a good breakdown for what is ultimately happening for the Mavericks. They want to manufacture tempo, but it’s actually harder than people think. “Everybody always talks about wanting to play fast and wanting to run, but it’s a huge commitment,” Carlisle continued. “Players can say but they never really understand the commitment involved until they get coached to do it every day. It’s a lot. The effort has been there, but we’ve just got to keep recognizing situations.”
There have been instances where the Mavericks have been able to see how the turnovers can bite a team from the other end of the spectrum. They had a 20-0 run against the Houston Rockets earlier in the preseason and it was triggered by turnovers. The run saw players pushing the tempo and running. With Dirk Nowitzki out of the lineup, it can’t be stressed enough about the emphasis needing to be on creating as many easy scoring opportunities as possible. That run occurred during the third quarter of the game, but Carlisle wants the team to be consistent with their attack throughout the game. “There’s going to be times late in game where we we’re going to be saying, ‘Go, go, move. Let’s manufacture a great shot. When we get it, let’s step into it,’” Carlisle explained. “It’s not going to be as simple as throwing the ball to one guy and saying go beat your guy and four others.” Through six games in the preseason, the Mavericks have averaged 17.6 fast break points. They have also outscored all but one opponent, F.C. Barcelona, in fast break points by a margin of 106-76. Comparing those notes versus the 2010-11 season, the last 82-game regular season, the Mavericks only averaged 14.8 fast break points.
The mindset and philosophy is simple. “We’ve got to bring the efficiency up and the inefficiency down,” Carlisle concluded. If the division is showing that speed will kill, the Mavericks will need to fight fire with fire. They must do that though with supreme control.
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.