The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 101, Oklahoma City Thunder 107

Posted by Kirk Henderson on March 17, 2013 under Recaps | 7 Comments to Read

Strike

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.

  • Expect the lack of shot attempts for Dirk Nowitzki (23 points on 8 of 10 shooting) to become a narrative for the Mavericks in the coming days, though it’s something I’ve been concerned about since Dirk returned to form. Against the Thunder, he started off 8 for 8 from the floor off of a variety of different looks. His final make came at the 8:22 mark of the third quarter. He took two more shots in the quarter, then didn’t have a field goal attempt for the remainder of the game. Credit must go to the Thunder defense, but the responsibility falls to Dirk, the coaching staff and his teammates. His teammates are the biggest problem, as Mike James, Darren Collison, and O.J. Mayo seem bewildered as to how to get the big German the ball. Dirk posts up well, sets good screens and is the league’s most dangerous trailer. He’s had to resort to calling for the ball more and more often this season as his guards don’t seem to see him unless he’s yelling at them. He’s big, he’s blond, he even has an insane beard.  He’s also a former MVP and an NBA Champion. If this team still thinks it can make the playoffs it’s not going to do so on the backs of anyone other than Dirk Nowitzki. Get Dirk the ball.
  • Contrast Dirk’s stat line to that of once and future scoring champion Kevin Durant (31 points, nine rebounds). Prior to the fourth, Dallas had managed to keep Durant in check with 12 points while forcing a variety of turnovers. In the final period, Durant scored 19, taking full advantage of his size mismatch and demanding the ball from Russell Westbrook. In most cases Durant simply got the ball at the top of the key and went to work, very similar to the way Dallas used to use Dirk.
  • The development of Jae Crowder (11 points, four rebounds) has been a roller coaster. I greatly enjoy his man to man defense, but he has brief lapses in judgement that really hurt the Mavericks. Kevin Martin scored two layups on simple back door cuts when Crowder got caught watching the ball. Additionally, each of his turnover were very frustrating to watch; he somehow failed to see a Thunder player between him and his teammate. Each lead to easy fast break points in a tightly contested game.
  • The offensive rebounding from the Thunder, particularly from Serge Ibaka (18 points 16 rebounds including seven offensive) badly hurt the Mavericks. Due to the threat of Russell Westbrook (35 points, six assists), the Dallas big guarding Ibaka was forced to cheat over for additional help defense when Westbrook got a Maverick defender in an isolation situation. As a result, a smaller player usually had to rotate down to try to box out Ibaka which did not work.
  • In recent weeks, I’ve been a big fan of how O.J. Mayo has let the game come to him. He’s made smart choices and put himself and his team in a position to win. Though Mayo didn’t hurt Dallas against the Thunder, his nine points and three assists are not enough from a player many consider to be the second offensive option. Despite his growth as a player this season, he doesn’t give Dallas enough on a consistent basis.
  • We’ve most likely seen the last of Roddy Beaubois in a Dallas Maverick uniform. He broke a bone in hand in a rather strange play involving Kevin Durant. Though he’s out indefinitely at the moment, we here at the Two Man Game wish him a speedy recovery.

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.

  • http://twitter.com/aarondeesknees Aaron Dees

    Bleh. Frustrating. I kept waiting and waiting and waiting to see more shots from Dirk. Why does Mike James exist?

    • http://www.facebook.com/davidghopkins David Hopkins

      Mike James exists because Rick Carlisle doesn’t believe that Atreyu, with his Auryn power medallion, is the chosen one to save the Childlike Empress in the land of Fantasia. Mike James is the cold reality that ruins miracles, hopes, dreams, and never-ending stories. I don’t know. We need better options at the point guard position.

      • http://twitter.com/KirkSeriousFace Kirk Henderson

        He alone doesn’t hold the blame though. I cringe whenever Collison throws an entry pass. Dirk’s second fall away from the right elbow was started via an entry pass from Collison. One Dirk had to jump up to catch it was so high and so off target. That’s the norm though.

        Mayo, who is actually a decent direct line passer, has issues when doubled off of a pick and roll as well. He throws a nifty little behind the back pass but whenever splitting a double team, he’s usually off.

        • Matt Hulme

          The sad fact of that matter is that the Mavs have not been this desolate on the point guard front since the pre-Nash years, with the possible noted exception of that weird transitional period post-Nash when Terry was running point prior to Harris taking the reigns, but even Terry knew how to feed the ball to the team’s best offensive weapon.

        • http://www.facebook.com/davidghopkins David Hopkins

          I agree. All my silly rambling aside, Mike James is here because he’s a stopgap for Collison. It’s not a perfect solution.

    • Sam

      And unfortunately, with Roddy’s latest injury (feel bad for the dude, can’t seem to catch a break), we don’t even get to ponder what it would be like if Carlisle would play Roddy in some of those minutes. We just get to suffer through more 30+ minute Mike James outings.

      I will give James a bit of credit though in that I like the way he plays defense. He’s not necessarily a fantastic defender but he brings a little attitude and toughness out there. But everything else about his game is pretty frustrating.

  • Matt Hulme

    There are so many thoughts swarming in my head right now, but the one prevailing thought (other than my unflattering and seemingly-impossible-yet-somehow evermore agressive stance on Mike James) is my growing discord with Rick Carlisle’s coaching style, specifically in the fourth quarter.

    Beyond the obvious fact that Rick’s fourth-quarter coaching method should consist of the words “REBOUND” and “FEED DIRK THE BALL”, it’s generally absurd that the Mavs cannot close out a tight home game with the season on the line.

    While the Beaubois injury is devastating to the fact, I cannot for the life of me understand Carlisle’s substitution pattern in late-game situations, as it has been made abundantly clear that while Collison lacks much of the polish and fluid passing skills you’d hope your field general can muster in those clutch moments, James is an absolute liability out there, much more prone to take an ill-advised 26-foot jumper than to ever pass the ball inside or to a true outside threat such as Carter.

    I would truly rather see Mayo running the show as a point-shooting combo guard, with Carter, Marion (when healthy; for the love of basketball, please return soon Matrix), Dirk, and Wright or Brand filling out the lineup. I know that leaves some certain deficiencies out there, but certainly Mayo has shown the capacity to fill this role in certain situations and at this point, what is there to lose by trying something risky? The Mavs are on the brink of elimination. I just wish they’d start acting like it.