Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by admin on April 29, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Eduardo Najera doesn’t want to be considered an enforcer. He’d rather be called an energy guy. Most Spurs fans probably just want to call him an annoyance, though, as Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes: “Bothersome, he is. And that’s the way he and the Mavericks like it. But he doesn’t want to be known as an enforcer in this series, even if he’s one flagrant foul away from being suspended for a game.”
  • Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News points out that when Manu Ginobili plays Dirk Nowitzki, Manu normally gets hurt: “…At least this fits into a pattern. In 2002, in the World Championships, Ginobili collided with an opponent, severely sprained his ankle and missed the rest of that tournament. The opponent? Nowitzki.”
  • Andrew McNeill of 48 Minutes of Hell previews Game 6 and writes about the mounting pressure on the Spurs and why some people see tonight as a must-win for the Spurs: “Here’s a riddle for you: lots of folks are saying that the San Antonio Spurs need to win Game 6 tonight in San Antonio and end the series, because if it goes to Game 7 in Dallas, all the pressure will be on the Spurs. But by saying that, aren’t they putting all that pressure on the Spurs to win tonight instead?”
  • No Maverick made the Top 15 in jersey sales this year, and the Mavericks were not in the top 10 in team merchandise sold.
  • Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas writes one of the keys to Game 6 is for the Mavericks to keep their cool: “The Mavs didn’t handle the pressure and a deafening crowd well here in Games 3 and 4. They know they have no choice tonight in do-or-die Game 6.”
  • Enjoy watching the game tonight, wear your lucky shorts, sit in your lucky chair and hopefully this will not be the last Mavericks game we see until November.

This post was written by Blaine Zimmerman. If you’d like to contact Blaine, drop a comment or email him at bzimmerman11b[at]gmail[dot]com.

Heard It Through The Grapevine

Posted by admin on April 22, 2010 under xOther | 4 Comments to Read

  • Jesse Blanchard from 48 Minutes of Hell discusses how the Spurs adjusted to contain Dirk: “Given the same looks he has gotten in the first two games, and they have been the same despite the vastly different outcomes, on most nights Nowitzki will produce a stat line that looks like  8-17 from the field and four to five free throw attempts. A great line, but hardly unmanageable.”
  • Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie notes that the Mavs’ Game 2 offensive performance was atypical: “Dallas was stinko, in that regard. Save for the late comeback mentioned above (after trailing for double-digits for most of the contest, the Mavs got it down to five points before Duncan and Ginobili put it away), Rick Carlisle’s team consistently failed to connect on shots that, I’m sorry, they’ve consistently made for years.”
  • Apparently, DeJuan Blair has a new nickname.
  • Spurs owner Peter Holt responds to Mark Cuban’s comments regarding “hating” the Spurs: “Listen, there might be some people in the league that are mad at him, but I’m not mad at him. Anything that raises the awareness is only good for us.”
  • Johnny Ludden of Yahoo explains Tim Duncan’s post-season focus, and with Duncan turning 34 on Sunday, Ludden spotlights the implications of Duncan’s age: “As much as anyone, Duncan settles into a rhythm in the postseason, which spares him the grind of back-to-back games. He’s at the age where any day off is a good day. Popovich’s decision to hold Duncan out of the season finale afforded him five days to rest before the playoffs. He received another two days before Game 2. ‘I’m feeling a lot better and I’m re-energized,’ Duncan said. That’s why it was imperative for the Spurs to win one of these first two games. The series now shifts to an every-other-day format, which should favor the deeper Mavs. The Spurs can’t ignore that reality, nor do they pretend Duncan is the same force he was seven seasons ago, when he won his second MVP award. Last year’s knee problems spurred him to lose 15 pounds during the summer, and no longer does he command a double team as often as he once did…But this, too, is also true: ‘He’ll never lose his skill set,’ Dirk Nowitzki said. Come Sunday, Duncan will have another birthday to celebrate, another game to play. And if the Spurs’ season needs saving again? Yes, Tim Duncan is both older and wiser. No one should think he is done.
  • As usual, Rick Carlisle kept his cool during the post-game interview.
  • Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas writes that when Kidd isn’t playing well, neither are the Mavericks.

This post was written by Blaine Zimmerman. If you’d like to contact Blaine, drop a comment or email him at bzimmerman11b[at]gmail[dot]com.

Foul Ball

Posted by admin on April 20, 2010 under Commentary | 3 Comments to Read

Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Danny Bollinger/NBAE via Getty Images.

Sunday night, the Mavericks attempted 34 free throws to the Spurs 14. If you’ve been a Mavs fan since before 2006, you know how it feels to be on the short end of this stick.

The game was called very close, which was surprising knowing the previous battles between these two teams. This is a long-standing, heated rivalry that is typically very physical. The referees haven’t been known to call ticky-tack fouls when these two teams meet. They’ve usually just let the players play. Last night that wasn’t the case, as almost every small touch foul was called…on the Spurs.

It’s hard to argue that the game was called fairly, because the Mavericks still hadn’t committed a foul yet in the 3rd quarter when the Spurs were in the bonus. And this was before the “Clamp-a-Damp” technique thrown out by Popovich.

By no means am I complaining about this. Sometimes teams just get the calls, and it can happen on any given night. I highly doubt Bennett Salvatore said to himself before the game, “You know, I feel bad for the way I’ve treated the Mavericks before, so I kind of owe them one.” Things like this just happen every once in a while, and it’s fairly normal for playoff games.

Looking at the season series, the Mavs  attempted 96 Free Throw Attempts to the Spurs 84. In games one and four, the Mavericks had more FTA (27 to 19 in game one and 28 to 20 in game 4). In games two and three, the Spurs had more (24 to 21 in game two and 21 to 20 in game three). The only game the Spurs won was the first game, where the Mavericks shot 8 more free throws than the Spurs. On the season, though, the Spurs have been better at getting to the line. The Spurs finished the season tied for 18th in the league with 1,969 FTAs and the Mavericks were ranked 25th with 1,870 FTAs. Bascially, neither team has been spectacular at getting to the line, which is suprising considering Tony Parker’s driving game and Dirk’s knack of getting fouled on jumpers.

How does this affect the players? Well, the whole reason Popovich called for intentional fouls on Dampier was to get the ball out of Nowitzki’s hands, to take the Mavericks out of the flow of their offense. It didn’t quite work, but with the Mavs aiming to push the tempo, having to stop and inbound or shoot free throws would technically take them out of their game, and made Dallas run more half-court offense. The Spurs may have been cautious defensively due to the frequency of foul calls, but they maintained their focus and energy on the offensive end. San Antonio shot 50% from the field as a result, but they didn’t seem to adjust to how closely the game was being called. Matt Bonner drove a few more times than Spurs fans probably wanted him to, but Parker and Ginobili didn’t drive as much as they normally do. A more aggressive approach by the Spurs’ guards would have almost forced the referees to call more fouls on the Mavericks.

Basically, Game One was an anomaly to how these teams have played all season. Between the two teams, the free throw attempts are very similar, so don’t expect this to become a trend, particularly after the Spurs have had a chance to revise their approach. If anything, expect Game Two to be loosely called, with the referees allowing a lot of contact. After having a chance to review the film from Game One, it’s likely that the officiating crew will give both teams more leeway on defense.

That being said, here are some points to look at moving forward:

  • Dampier played very good defense on Tim Duncan Sunday night. Haywood had 10 points on 4-5 shooting. In close games during this series, don’t be surprised if Carlisle does offense/defense substitutions between these two.
  • Caron Butler (22 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals) had his best game as a Maverick. It is absolutely essential for him to keep playing that well if the Mavs are to make a deep playoff run.
  • Jason Terry had another off night, though he did hit a jumper and a corner three late in the fourth that could boost his confidence going into the next game. For a streaky shooter, a little confidence is all he needs to go from a slump to a monster series.
  • Gregg Popovich is one of the all-time best at making adjustments. Expect an entirely different game plan Wednesday night (especially against Dirk), because that’s just how Popovich works.
  • As Rob said, I doubt we’ll see Beaubois this series, he’s just too inexperienced and Barea has had some great games against the Spurs in the past. I do think Najera will make a couple of appearances, especially if Popovich tries the Clamp-a-Damp again.

Heard It Through The Grapevine

Posted by admin on April 15, 2010 under xOther | 5 Comments to Read

  • The Spurs hope George Hill will be ready for the first round series vs. the Mavericks, and Jesse Blanchard of 48 Minutes of Hell breaks down why he’s the key to the series for the Spurs, and Gregg Popovich’s favorite player.
  • While watching the game last night, I, like many of you, started wondering why Marion shoots so many floaters around the basket, even though it seems like he never makes them. I looked up his At-Rim FG% at HoopData, and surprisingly, he’s at 62%, 1% higher than the league average. I’m still of the opinion that he needs to lay off that floater.
  • Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas writes about the respect the Mavs have for this Spurs team: “The Mavs simply have too much respect for Gregg Popovich’s team to get their britches in a bunch about Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili taking off Game 82. Plus, the Mavs are much more concerned about preparing for Game 1. “
  • Angry Trey shared this video with us Mavs fans, from the 16th President of the United States
  • And in case you were wondering, my first round predictions (in the West) are Lakers in 6, Jazz in 5, Suns in 6 and Mavs in 6…..which isn’t very brave of me at all.

Grapevine cont’d, by Mahoney:

  • Rick Carlisle has been named the Western Conference Coach of the Month according to a release from the team. It’s the first time a Mavs coach has won the award since Avery Johnson nabbed it in February of 2007.
  • From Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) on Twitter: “Ed Stefanski interviewed Dwane Casey twice last year and source close to Sixers GM says ‘He loved him.’ Philly may have to move fast should it want to hire Casey this time, because sources say he’s moved to top of Clippers search. OKC almost hired Casey over PJ Carlesimo.”
  • Shawn Marion manages to crack out the “that’s what’s up” “it’s on” and “it is what it is” trinity. Not in one scrum, but one after another in a single sentence.
  • Yahoo’s John Ludden has an excellent piece in Manu Ginobili: “Looking back, maybe it was foolish to question him. Through his eight years in San Antonio, Ginobili had lifted the Spurs through all those end-of-game, pressure-cooker moments. Resurrecting himself might have been his greatest comeback yet. It took five months, but he has again made believers of them all, and that explains more than anything why the Spurs decided to give him a contract extension that will pay nearly $40 million over the next three years. When Ginobili’s healthy, when he’s playing as he has over the past couple months, isn’t anything possible?”