Thermodynamics (n.) – the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy
Week 2 of the Mavericks’ 2012-2013 season is in the books, and the early returns look promising. The Mavs finished the week 3-0. That’s not bad. I’d be more impressed, but I had hoped the Mavs would find a way to win four or five games this week, despite having just three on the schedule. Call me ambitious.
In case you missed the debut of Thermodynamics last week (or ignored it entirely — fair enough), the premise here is simple. Each week, I’ll review the Mavs’ best and worst performances, and I’ll do so with an innovative, not-at-all-clichéd “hot-cold” motif. With that said…
Week 2 (Bobcats, Blazers, Raptors)
1) “Juice” Mayo
After starting the season with two fairly unremarkable performances in Week 1, OJ Mayo quickly transitioned into remarkable. This week, Mayo was the Mavs’ best player. He led the team in scoring all three games, notching 30, 32, and 22 points, respectively. Perhaps more importantly, Mayo scored efficiently, shooting 30-of-52 (58%) and a blistering 16-of-24 (67%) from deep. He also maintained a 2-to-1 assist-turnover ratio and showed strong single-game +/- numbers (+27, +21, +10). Mayo’s much-needed punch from the two-guard spot is a big reason why the Mavs are 4-1—and with last night’s Spurs loss, tied for first place in the West—without Dirk Nowitzki.
2) Chris Kaman
Think OJ Mayo ran away from the pack on the Mavs’ shooting charts this week? Think again. Chris Kaman shot 8-of-9 (89%) for 16 points against Charlotte, 8-of-10 (80%) for another 16 points against Portland, and 8-of-15 (53%) for 22 points against Toronto. And Kaman didn’t rack up those numbers on dunks and layups — in fact, nearly half of his field goals came on mid-range jump shots. Kaman showed excellent touch from the baseline and the elbow, and demonstrated a nice array of low-post moves while finishing with both hands. His versatility won’t surprise seasoned NBA observers, as his biggest issue has always been health, not talent.
3) Offensive Pace & Efficiency
Here are two things about the Mavs’ offense in Week 2: they played it fast, and they played it well. The Mavs averaged almost 20 fast break points per game this week, evidencing a team-wide effort (spearheaded by point-guard Darren Collison) to push the tempo. And even when the Mavs didn’t score on the break, their up-tempo approach often created exploitable cross-matches in the half-court. Behind those efforts, coupled with excellent ball movement and shooting, the Mavs eviscerated their opponents’ defenses this week. They currently rank second in the league in points per game (108.2) and third in Offensive Rating (114.2).
1) Player Availability
Before the season opener in Los Angeles, many assumed the Mavs would struggle to tread water without Dirk Nowitzki for several weeks. So far, that hasn’t been true. But unfortunately, “without Dirk Nowitzki” hasn’t even told the full story. This week, the Mavs also lost Shawn Marion (sprained MCL) and Rodrigue Beaubois (sprained ankle) from the lineup. Elton Brand missed the Toronto game (understandably) for the birth of his child. Taken together, these events have left significant holes in the Mavs’ active roster. The schedule has been pretty forgiving, and will continue to be for the next few weeks, but the Mavs’ depleted depth may rear its ugly head against tougher opponents (like the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Friday night).
2) Defensive Glass
Last week’s column emphasized the Mavs’ poor defensive rebounding. This column will do the same. Don’t call it a streak (yet…); the Mavs didn’t quite suffer a rebounding meltdown like they did in Utah last week, but their overall numbers on the defensive glass continued to disappoint. They gave up 15 offensive boards to Charlotte, 23 to Portland, and 10 to Toronto. The Portland game was especially troubling, as the Blazers dominated 23-2 on the offensive glass and 48-37 overall. For all the things the Mavs have been doing very well this year, this is one area that’s been decidedly poor. Having a complete roster will help, but that won’t solve the problem on its own.
3) Troy Murphy’s Shooting
At first, I was reluctant to rag on the Mavs’ 11th (or so) man for his first few games on a new team. But then I remembered Troy Murphy is a millionaire professional athlete, so I got over it. Murphy wasn’t awful this week. He moved well, rebounded the ball decently, and even showed some savvy in the Mavs’ pick-and-roll defense. But after declining to shoot even once against Charlotte, Murphy showed us during the next two games why he declined to shoot even once versus Charlotte. Against Portland and Toronto, Murphy shot a combined 3-of-10 (30%) from the field and 1-of-7 (14%) from deep. Some of his misses weren’t pretty, including a corner three against Toronto that nearly got lodged between the rim and the backboard. Always remember, Troy: Keep Calm and Shoot Less.
Travis Wimberly lives in Austin, Texas and writes about the Dallas Mavericks on Al Gore’s Internet™. Travis enjoys shenanigans, claptrap, and frivolity. Follow Travis on Twitter @TravisRW.