Thermodynamics (n.) – the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy
As the great philosopher Randy Quiad once said, just before he courageously kamikaze-dived his F/A-18 fighter jet into the alien mothership: “I’m back.” My week-long hiatus from The Two Man Game, which was filled with all sorts of illicit activities (e.g., work, eating in between work breaks, sleeping a bit between work breaks), is over. My sincerest thanks to my colleague and good friend Bryan Gutierrez for filling in last week on very short notice. Cheers to you, BG.
So about those Mavericks. They had a strong week, notching a 3-1 record and falling only to the Boston Celtics last night in a double-overtime road pseudo-thriller. A couple more made free throws or a couple fewer turnovers in Boston and it would have been not just a “strong” week, but an excellent one. So it goes.
Let’s do what we do each week. Three hot Mavs performances, and three cold ones. Hit it.
Week 7 (@Suns, @Rockets, Kings, @Celtics)
1) OJ Mayo
Other than his brief apperance on the cold list in Week 5, Mayo has consistently lived in the Thermodynamics fire this season. He’s right back at it this week. He started this seven-day stretch with a strong performance in Phoenix, notching 23 points on 9-of-17 (53%) shooting and hitting the go-ahead jumper with 35 seconds left in the game. In Houston two nights later, Mayo had by far his best performance as a Mav and arguably the best of his young career. He tied his career high with 40 points –outdueling James Harden’s 39 — on 15-of-26 (58%) shooting while going 6-of-9 (67%) from deep. Sixteen of Mayo’s points came in the decisive fourth quarter, when the Mavs erased an 11-point deficit and took control. At home against the Kings, Mayo did about what you’d expect, tallying 19 points on 6-of-9 (67%) shooting in just 28 minutes as the Mavs cruised to an easy victory. Finally, in Boston last night, Mayo was the Mavs’ leading scorer with 24 points on 10-of-19 (53%) shooting, including several clutch baskets in the fourth quarter and first overtime. Unfortunately, Mayo’s otherwise strong performance in Boston was marred by nine turnovers, a missed free throw late, and a few poor shots during the OT frames. Still, the Mavs’ leading scorer did what he does best this week. And he even rebounded to boot, averaging 6.5 boards per game and twice leading the entire team in that department. Speaking of which…
I’ll be honest: I sincerely doubted that the Mavs would rebound well enough for an entire week to get this item on the hot list at any point this season. But even though their effort on the glass this week was hardly dominant, it was a significant improvement over the dumpster fire that had been their 2012-13 glass work to date. For that, I have decided to commend them. The Mavs outrebounded their opponent in three out of four games this week. That’s 75%, for those of you furiously crunching numbers on your abaci at home. Shocking, I know. The margins were: 44-42 at Phoenix, 40-37 at Houston, 38-43 vs Sacramento, and 50-42 at Boston. Further, the -5 margin against Sacramento came entirely in the fourth quarter, when the game was essentially out of reach. Now, this isn’t to say there weren’t still glaring issues on the boards. For instance, the Mavs allowed the Suns’ Markieff Morris to notch a career-high 17 rebounds. Fortunately, Markieff’s twin brother Marcus did not replicate this effort for the Rockets — if only because he didn’t play a second against the Mavs. In any event, despite the lingering issues, it was nice to see some improvement on the glass this week. If nothing else, this all just goes to show that even hot and cold lists are relative.
3) Team shooting
The Mavs shot well as a team this week. Over their four games, they connected on 175-of-348 of their shots, for a team-wide average of 50.0%. Not bad. These efforts were spearheaded by OJ Mayo (discussed above) and Chris Kaman, who finished the week with a 30-of-45 (67%) mark from the floor. Unfortunately, due to other issues (e.g., turnovers), this solid shooting performance did not translate into an immensely efficient week. The Mavs still rank just 13th league-wide in offensive rating (104.3). Undoubtedly, that number will improve when Dirk Nowitzki returns, but before that happens, the other Mavs have several kinks to iron out.
1) Ball security
Last week, my man BG wrote about the Mavs’ turnover woes. He ain’t never lied. The problem continued this week, reaching a low-point in Boston on Wednesday night, as the Mavs committed a season-high 28 turnovers against the Celtics, with OJ Mayo (nine turnovers) and Darren Collison (seven) being the worst culprits. And as bad as those numbers look on paper, the issue was even worse than the box score would indicate. Several of the Mavs’ turnovers came at crucial moments in the fourth quarter and overtime, like Shawn Marion throwing a lazy bounce pass into the press row with less than a minute left, and Darren Collison doing his best John Skelton impersonation on the final inbounds pass of the game. The turnover problem wasn’t as stark in the week’s previous three games, although the Mavs did commit 16 turnovers at Phoenix and had a couple untimely lapses in the fourth quarter at Houston. Hang on to the ball, bros.
2) Derek Fisher
After clinching a coveted spot on the hot list last week, Mavs newcomer Derek Fisher now finds himself on the wrong side of Thermodynamics. Fisher wasn’t necessarily awful, but he sure didn’t shoot well. He went 8-of-26 (31%) for the week, with most of his misses coming from two-point range. He hit a fourth-quarter three in Boston to give the Mavs their only lead of the game, but after that he generally appeared tentative and indecisive (before fouling out in overtime). Fisher’s leadership and presence have proven to be valuable assets thus far, but his impact is seriously hampered if he can’t make at least 40% of his shots. Plus, Fisher’s cold streaks allow the opposing defense to play more aggressively, trapping ball handlers OJ Mayo and Darren Collison at every turn (as the Celtics did last night) and putting immense pressure on the Mavs’ young guards.
3) Roddy Beaubois
If it wasn’t already patently obvious, we may well be nearing the end of the Roddy Beaubois era in Dallas. The French Express averaged just three minutes per game this week, netting a DNP-CD in Phoenix and two measly seconds of playing time in Houston. At this point, I can’t say I’m even criticizing Rick Carlisle for playing Beaubois so little. Even when he does play, Beaubois rarely shows much of anything. He isn’t shooting well (32% on the year), isn’t passing well, has poor court vision, and isn’t making an impact on defense. I really liked Beaubois early in his career (Who didn’t?) but unfortunately, it seems that things just aren’t going to work out for him in Dallas. But hey, maybe he’ll surprise us and turn it all around. Crazier things have happened.
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.