The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 100, Minnesota Timberwolves 77

Posted by Kirk Henderson on March 10, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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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.

  • The Mavericks have been one of the worst teams in terms of scoring the first six minutes of a game. Though it’s been less of an issue since the All-Star break, it reared its ugly head once again against the Timberwolves. The Mavericks have a tendency to settle for long twos early and if they don’t fall, the entire offense goes awry. Dallas scored six points in the first six minutes of action, and four of those six points came from Chris Kaman. The Mavs still have hopes for the playoffs, but cannot start games this way against better teams down the stretch and expect to win.
  • Following the win over the Wolves, the Mavericks are now riding a three game win streak, primarily on the back of two road wins. The wins over Detroit and Minnesota were the first two road wins in a row for the Mavericks since winning in Phoenix and Houston on December 6th and 8th. Dallas has not won three road games in a row this season.
  • The pace of the game changed when Rick Carlisle opted for mass substitutions at the four minute mark of the first. Darren Collison’s instinct to push paired with Vince Carter’s play making and shot taking abilities have been a huge boost off of the bench lately. In retrospect, the 14-0 run to start the second quarter essentially ended the game, and Collison and Carter led the way during that charge.
  • Fans must be careful reading into these last two road wins; both teams, particularly the Wolves, are dealing with the loss of key player personnel.  The entire starting front court for Minnesota was out against Dallas. Kevin Love broke his hand for the second time this season, Andrei Kirilenko was out with a calf strain, and Nikola Pekovic  is dealing with a abdominal strain.
  • I’ve questioned Collison’s decision making and defense frequently this season but I do not doubt his talent. So often he makes a few poor decisions early and it changes how he approaches the game. Against the Timberwolves he probed early and often, particularly along the baseline and it lead to wide open shots for his teammates. Back to back eight assist games should help bolster his confidence moving forward.
  • Watching O.J. Mayo (eight points, eight assists, seven rebounds) play complete basketball games is really entertaining. While he might be known for his three point shooting this season, Dallas has benefited from his play making when he lets the game come to him. His shooting ability forces defenses to respect his jumper, thus opening up driving lanes where he’s made excellent decisions as of late. I particularly enjoy his use of the bounce pass during fast break situations.
  • Though I do enjoy seeing Collison’s blazing speed, he has a tendency to overvalue how that may work to his favor, particularly on fast breaks where the Mavericks do not have a numerical advantage. So I was delighted to see Collison recognize instances where attacking wasn’t to the Maverick’s benefit.
  • In the second quarter, Collison got an outlet and pushed ahead of his teammates. He still had four defenders in front of him so he slowed slightly, let Dirk Nowitzki post up along the left side, then drove past him as his man decided to play the pass. Collison was met at the rim by a defender but passed to an open O.J. Mayo in the opposite corner. Mayo then reversed the ball to the trailing Vince Carter, who knocked down the open three pointer.
  • The Wolves PA system played the musical portion of “The Real Slim Shady” at one point during the first half. I’ve become used to all of the pop hits mixed in with weird sound effects from the various NBA arenas this year. Hearing that particular Marshall Mathers song was a bit odd to say the least.
  • Our good friends over at A Wolf Among Wolves have detailed just how horrid the Timberwolves three point shooting has been this year. A 2 of 18 performance against Dallas will do little to make their fans feel better.
  • During the Maverick title run, Rick Carlisle occasionally opted with the three guard line up featuring Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, and JJ Barea. The Wolves attempted something similar against Dallas putting out Barea, Luke Ridnour, and Ricky Rubio for a stretch of time. I’m guessing this was mainly due to necessity as six of the Wolves’ nine healthy players were forwards, none of whom are particularly adept ball handlers. The Wolves probably hoped the small ball line up would put Dallas on their heels, but this line up for Minnesota was unable to convert much of anything.
  • The Maverick announcers made a point of mentioning that Dallas won the rebounding battle against Minnesota. I should hope so, seeing as the Wolves missed 56 of their 88 shots. There were plenty of opportunities to grab rebounds.
  • I must admit there are times when I miss J.J. Barea. His ability to get to the rim for a player of his size is still something I am in awe over. He made one spinning left handed shot over the bigger, stronger Jae Crowder that illustrates his value. Of course, with the Wolves dealing with so many injuries, Barea has been forced into a role that doesn’t really suit him. The Wolves need his scoring, whereas during his time in Dallas, his ability to get to the rim and hit shots served as a change of pace from the Dirk-centric offense.
  • As the game wore on, it became apparent that no one on Minnesota’s team wanted to take an outside jump shot. The guards of Minnesota actually got a fair number of penetration and kick out opportunities, but they simply couldn’t knock them down.
  • Jae Crowder, who is not normally a well regarded decision maker, led a fast break that resulted in a look away bounce pass from Crowder at the top of the key to Chris Kaman on the right block, who used a whirling dervish spin towards the middle for a lefty hook.
  • The Wolves had no answer for Vince Carter (22 points, nine rebounds). Shooting 4 of 5 from deep helped open the game up for Dallas early.
  • Had Dallas forced it to him, this felt like a game where Dirk Notwizki (16 points, nine rebounds) could’ve had 30. He scored from all over the floor tonight, particularly from his sweet spot along the baseline.
  • Dirk did, however, have four turnovers, including one on the base line where he was wide open. He rose to shoot a jumper, then decided to pass to a diving Kaman. He must have realized Kaman was cut off because he came down with the ball still in his hands, which is a clear travel. Dirk headbutted the ball in frustration. His willingness to pass to his centers is fantastic, but sometimes I want Carlisle to remind him he’s Dirk Nowitzki and the baseline jumper, particularly the wide open jumper, strikes fear in the hearts of his opponents.
  • I wish Coach Carlisle would have gone to his bench players sooner. The game was out of hand to start the fourth, yet he waited until the four minute mark to give Anthony Morrow any sort of run. If the front office made the move to acquire Morrow, there had to be a reason, so I believe Carlisle should actually give him situational minutes, particularly when a game is already decided.
  • In a similar vein, Dallas opted to waive Dominique Jones and all signs point to the signing of Chris Wright from the developmental league. It feels like a bit of a hedge on the season, particularly since Dallas is still technically in the playoff hunt. Wright won’t see a minute of action until the Mavericks are mathematically eliminated, which might be a while, given how this team refuses to quit.
  • I hope Dallas is somehow able to resign Elton Brand (10 points, 12 rebounds). He works well with Vince Carter on the offensive end, but he does so many little things on both ends of the floor that Dallas would be lucky to keep him past this season. I’ve grown to appreciate the way he gets his shot off despite his waning athleticism and I love how he seems to relish punishing younger, more athletic players.
  • Derrick Williams (18 points, nine rebounds) has been impressive putting up numbers in the absence of the Timberwolf front court starters. It’s clear he has the talent to play in the NBA, but his game seems better matched to a high octane offense. Of course, like Brandan Wright, he seems doomed to forever be a tweener forward, unless he can extend his range to the NBA three point line. He knocked down a number of distance numbers against Dallas, but the Mavericks left him wide open for both his three point attempts.
  • Speaking of Wright (13 points, seven rebounds), the Mavericks have found ways to use him recently to really show case his offensive abilities. Though he’s been getting more minutes recently, he hasn’t been the defensive liability he was earlier in the season. His help defense has been solid and he’s no longer trying to block every shot within 15 feet of him. I doubt he stays in Dallas past this year, but he’s going to be an NBA contributor somewhere in the 2013-2014 season.

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.