The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 91, San Antonio Spurs 92

Posted by Kirk Henderson on March 14, 2013 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

Storm Clouds

Box Score — Play-by-Play — Shot Chart — Game Flow

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

  • I was hoping to get to rave about the brilliant play of Brandan Wright (10 points, eight rebounds, two blocks), who had an amazing all-around performance against a top notch front court. But with the sixth Dallas loss by three points or less this season, the missed opportunities against San Antonio are a harsh reminder of why this team is an extreme fringe playoff contender at best. The decision making from an offensive standpoint was baffling. Why is O.J. Mayo pulling up for a jumper on a three on one fast break? Why is Chris Kaman taking the ball up the court on a fast break after a steal? Why doesn’t Dallas get the ball to Dirk more often in the high post like they did during the 2011 Championship run? The Spurs managed to score on the final possession in each of the first three quarters while Dallas was unable to do so a single time. Defensively the Mavericks bickered with each other for much of the first half as seemingly every Dallas player was slow to rotate, particularly in instances of ‘helping the helper’ after a rotation had already occurred  The Mavericks also spent far too much time chasing players around screens as a San Antonio player caught a pass moving towards the rim, forcing Dallas to foul or rotate to help early in possessions. Kahwi Leonard snuck in a back door lay up from a high post feed by Jae Crowder because Crowder’s back was to the ball, a defensive cardinal sin. Tim Duncan (26 points, 19 rebounds) bullied Dallas from pillar to post. Finally, the final shot by Vince Carter left much to be desired. As TMG’s own Bryan Gutierrez pointed out on twitter, behind or tied within three points, Vince Carter has taken the final shot six times to Dirk Nowitzki’s one since Dirk’s return. The main reason for this, I suspect, is that Carlisle knows not a single Maverick guard can reliably get a pass to Dirk. There wasn’t enough time for a Carter-Dirk pick and roll in that situation, and even though Carter is the best in the NBA from that particular spot, the Mavericks have to get something going towards the rim when the margin is a single point. Tim Duncan told David Aldridge in the post game interview that a step back fade away is exactly the shot San Antonio was hoping to force. That Dallas was in this game at all with Dirk, Carter, Mayo and Elton Brand shooting a combined 36% from the field is impressive, but the small mistakes Dallas makes throughout the course of the game keep catching up to them.

Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on Twitter @KirkSeriousFace for ranting about Dallas basketball, TV, movies, video games, and his dog.


  • David Hopkins

    Great analysis! I want your basketball brain.

    • Kirk Henderson

      A 500 word run on paragraph? Haha thanks David.

  • Matt Hulme

    For all the good the Mavs showed us last night (much of which you mentioned in your one-”point” post), all of their flaws were just as visible.

    You nailed it, Kirk – The Mavs lack that passer capable of getting the ball in Dirk’s hands in the final ticking seconds. It’s quite possibly the Mavs’ biggest flaw, outside of interior defensive woes and the continued existence of Mike James.

    With no great passer, teams are more free to key up on the Mavs other clutch-situation shooters, Carter and Mayo, and therefore force a tough, contested shot.

    In reality, the Mavs never tried to get Dirk the ball on that last possession as it was clearly never designed for him. And that’s the tragic reality. Carlisle knows the team struggles to get the ball to Nowitzki where he can post up, and so he avoids the decent possibility of a turnover there altogether.

    It’s too bad, because I do think Mayo and Collison (who’s been lightyears better of late and coincidentally IS NOT MIKE FREAKING JAMES) are both capable of making that pass, and six seconds is plenty of time to make it happen. And that six to one stat is absurd in its accuracy. It paints a stunning portrait.

    There are so many things to take away from the game, but for me, it always comes down to this in those one-to-three point losses: If the ball is not in Dirk’s hands at the end, and he doesn’t get the final shot, I’ll always wonder what could have been. I love Carter, and I love his guts and play, but the game should always rest on the shoulders of a team’s best player; if it falls short or rims off, I’ll know it wasn’t meant to be, and won’t question the play call. But if Dirk never touches the rock, I’ll always wonder.

    Live and die by your best player’s last shot. That’s how it works. Kobe, love him or hate him, is always going to take that last shot. And Dirk, who’s more efficient in those situations than Kobe, should too.