Center Stage

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on May 10, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment


It’s time to wrap up the position by position evaluation. If the point guard position was the worst spot for the Mavs, the center position was the second choice. Folks got a harsh reminder that Tyson Chandler wasn’t going to be walking back through that door. Going into the 2011-12 season, Dallas had the likes of Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi that had to be replaced.

They got creative by replenishing their center spot by signing veteran big man Chris Kaman to a one-year deal. They also claimed Elton Brand off waivers as he was released by Philadelphia due to the amnesty provision. Brandan Wright continued to log minutes at the center spot, but he also saw more time at the power forward position.

Summing it up:

The centers definitely never had a chance to get into a groove as both Kaman and Brand expected to be playing off of the attention that Dirk Nowitzki received from the opposing defenders. Dirk’s time away due to his knee surgery definitely altered that plan for both big men. That certainly changes the expected results for the centers, but the numbers are still pretty poor over the course of the season.

In terms of rebounds from the center position, Dallas’ centers tied for dead last in the league at 4.3 rebounds per game. The two teams they tied with made the playoffs, but they definitely had more to work with. The teams were the Los Angeles Clippers and the Miami Heat. Both teams were clearly limited with their size in the frontcourt, but they had athletes that helped masked that deficiency.

Those rebounding numbers for the center show a pretty significant correlation to the fact that they weren’t good at getting second chance points. Dallas’ centers were below average in second chance points as they only averaged 3.5 per game. New Orleans’ big men led the league in that category at 6.5 per game.

The Dallas centers had the 11th worst defensive rating for centers at 103.8. Elton Brand was brought in to be the enforcer and anchor in the paint. His defensive rating for the season was 102, better than his career average. He wasn’t necessarily outmatched in his position. Brand isn’t the tallest center in the world, but he’s able to use his frame and long arms as leverage as a defender. The problem was that he wasn’t necessarily set up in a position to succeed as the perimeter defenders weren’t exactly staying in front of their man. That forced the centers, like Brand, to help more than they probably should have needed to.

 What do they need?

You either believe you need a dominant center and pair him with Dirk, or you need a highly-skilled point guard and pair him with Dirk. Both would clearly be ideal, but it’s entirely possible the Mavs might have to select just one option.

It’s always ideal to now follow the blueprint that was created with Tyson Chandler. Dirk has said it over and over again that a mobile center who can play defense is one that works best alongside him. Comparing this summer to next summer, this summer’s crop has the potential to bear more fruit as next summer has intriguing names but the options are relatively limited. That means centers, which always get paid, will really get paid next summer because the options are just so limited.

Through free agency and the draft, there will be plenty of options for Dallas when looking at centers. It is very evident that, like the point guard position, they really need to take care of the center position this offseason. It will be very interesting to see which route they take when it comes to the center spot.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University, studying ideologies of Clark Kent. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 116, Houston Rockets 109

Posted by Kirk Henderson on December 9, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment


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.

  • Though I always enjoy watching basketball, this was the most fun I’ve had watching a Mavs game in weeks. The battle of the former sixth men O.J. Mayo (40 points, eight rebounds) and James Harden (39 points, nine assists, six rebounds) was fantastic and highly entertaining. Though Mayo has been the best Maverick this season, I’ve still had a number of concerns, particularly if Dallas decides to make a long term offer to him in the off season. With each passing game he is putting those concerns to rest. He’s coming off screens better; in the first quarter he came off a Wright screen near the elbow, caught the pass from Fisher, and made a decisive move to the bucket for a lay in. He’s also reading attempted traps out of the pick and roll like a point guard; in the second quarter the Rockets attempted to trap him high and he found Kaman with a ridiculous bounce pass between the defenders. O.J. Mayo as play maker, whether taking shots or moving the ball, has been a delight to watch. Scoring 16 points in each of the first and final frames was also very impressive.
  • Earlier in the week, Tom Ziller wrote a piece discussing we haven’t seen many 50 point games in recent years. When James Harden put up 30 points in the first half (along with five rebounds and five assists) I wondered whether we’d be in for that rare feat. Dallas holding Harden to nine points in the second half answered that question, but one can still be amazed at Harden’s level of play. He had 39 points on 17 shots. That is shades of Dirk in the 2011 playoffs against Oklahoma City, where he scored 48 points on 15 shots. Harden’s efficiency is incredible.
  • The Mavericks have finally changed how they are defending the pick and roll. Prior to signing Derek Fisher, Dallas was having the man guarding the screener show high and then recover. When the screens were set at the top of the key this would force guys like Chris Kaman and Elton Brand to try to recover as their man rolled to the basket. This is a lot of ground to make up quickly for guys who aren’t as athletic as they used to be. Teams picked Dallas apart for weeks. This game in particular I noticed that the man guarding the ball handler either went under the screen or went over the top without any Maverick showing or trying to trap. Results were mixed, to say the least as Harden picked the defense apart in the first three quarters. That said, I’m glad they are trying different coverages simply because it was getting frustrating watching Kaman, Brand, and Sarge struggle to recover.
  • The crunch time line up tonight was fascinating: Darren Collison, Derek Fisher, O.J. Mayo, Vince Carter, and Brandan Wright, with Dahntay Jones subbing offense/defense for Carter if the possession allowed it. Two Man Game founder/editor Rob Mahoney was an early adopter of basketball coaches and analysts getting rid of the classic positional assignment. The above line up is written from PG-SG-SF-PF-C as we would traditionally assign positions, but calling Carter a power forward is a laughable proposition. Carlisle masterfully executed “going small” for the final six minutes of the game; Dallas spread the floor and Collison and Mayo were allowed to make plays. Houston also chose to remove their best rim defender in Omer Asik, opening things up for Dallas. While Mayo clearly dominated late, my favorite play was the slip screen by Wright, followed by a beautiful feed from Collison, and the Wright dunk.
  • Dallas should hope Chris Kaman (20 points in 19 minutes) is okay. He seemed to aggravate the same ankle which he turned against the Suns on Thursday. While I think that everyone would like to see Kaman establish himself in the paint before going to his jumper, the Rockets gave him space early and Kaman took advantage of the opportunity. Mayo is and should be the story of the game, but Kaman’s steady play in these last two wins has been vital.
  • Carlisle opted to go zone in spots in the third quarter and it threw Houston off of their offensive momentum in a big way.  Houston committed 19 turnovers on the evening to the 12 of Dallas. Many of Houston’s turnovers were unforced and Dallas was able to hang around and kept game from getting out of hand. Houston oddly opted to take the ball out of James Harden’s hands during these zone possessions, instead opting to attack with ball movement and open jump shots, and it clearly got Houston out of their offensive rhythm.
  • For the second game in a row Carlisle opted to stick with Darren Collison (12 points, five assists) during a close game. Collison was clearly unhappy with the signing of Fisher and would prefer to start, but he’s playing fairly well within the confines Carlisle has set up for him. He’s still shooting the ball poorly relative to his historical statistics, but perhaps with time those shots might start falling.

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.


The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 92, Detroit Pistons 77

Posted by Kirk Henderson on December 2, 2012 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read


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.

  • With 3:19 left in the second quarter the Mavericks trailed 44-33. Bryan Gutierrez tweeted “Mavs need some momentum in the worst way”. Dallas went on a 59-33 run to close out the game, leading by as many as 19 at one point, a 30 point swing at its highest.
  • Everyone should take a minute to welcome back O.J. Mayo (27 points, five rebounds) from the first few weeks of the season. What changed? Honestly, not much; his outside shot simply began to fall again. After shooting 1-for-10 from range the last three games, Mayo shot 6-for-9 tonight. He still shot an ugly 4-for-12 inside the arc; he takes too many pull up long twos that remind me of Vince Carter from last season. Mayo still has a lot of work to do; his defense is atrocious and his pick and roll game as the primary ball handler is poor for someone of his basketball IQ. Still though, when he’s shooting the ball like that, one has visions of Dirk wheeling, dealing, and kicking to an open Mayo for three.
  • A healthy round of applause for Elton Brand (17 points, 12 rebounds) is in order. While its exciting to see Mayo shoot well, seeing Brand hit those 10 to 15 foot jump shots was such a relief. Last season Brand shot a fantastic 45% clip from that section of the floor and was a big reason many were initially so excited to pair him with Dirk who would, in theory, open up the floor for Brand the way he has for so many others. Prior to tonight’s game though, Brand has shot an absurd 23% from that range. Tonight Brand hit three shots in that area and it forced the Detroit defense to close out on him, thus opening the floor for his five makes at the rim.
  • Brand’s confidence on offense bled over into his defense; his four blocks helped keep the momentum in favor of the Mavericks. Pairing him with Bernard James (six points, 3 rebounds) was a different look for Dallas in the second quarter. It’s probably a rare sight though, both Brand and James are around 6’9″ and Carlisle was looking to steal minutes while Chris Kaman was in foul trouble.
  • The Mavs shot eight free throws, making five, yet managed to win by 15. The power of the three point shot (Dallas went 11-for-25 from downtown) combined with an opponent who had trouble finding the bottom of the net (Detroit shot 34% from the field) can result in some strange statistics. Dallas cannot rely on the deep ball and needs to make a point to get to the line more often.
  • The Derek Fisher (two points, three assists) got off to a quiet statistical start. However, he made an impact with a number of decisive passes out of the pick and roll which Dallas had been missing. He seemed to work particularly well with Shawn Marion (seven points, nine rebounds, four assists), who played a fair amount of power forward due to the aforementioned Kaman foul trouble.
  • Bringing in Fisher seemed to have an interesting effect on Darren Collison (eight assists, no turnovers) who played angry and played with a purpose. It was his first game since November 16th without a turnover. I expect he takes back the starting role at some point; Carlisle needs to send the message that on this Dallas Mavericks team nothing is given and everything is earned.
  • There are still plenty of teaching moments with this squad; halfway into the third Collison took a pull up three pointer early in the shot clock. It rimmed out badly and the Pistons pushed the ball on the break and scored. Carlisle immediately called a time out and loudly yelled “What the heck was that?!” (He did not say heck). Collison was displeased at getting called out so vocally; he seems to grate a bit under Carlisle’s coaching, which is odd given his pedigree.
  • It’s really delightful to see Vince Carter (12 points, five assists) thrive the way he has in the Dallas offense this year. All six of his shots were from beyond the arc tonight, and he hit four. This opened up lanes towards the bucket and because Detroit seemed to block every other shot at the rim during half court offensive sets (they had seven for the game), Carter was able to find open Mavs when he drove, and racked up five assists in only 21 minutes of action. This is an ideal Vince Carter game for Dallas.
  • Though Dallas shot poorly (40% for the evening), that they assisted 28 of 38 made field goals is fantastic. No player, save Russell Westbrook, can move as fast as the ball. Crisp ball movement is incredibly important for the Mavs to get into a rhythm. Finding the open man instead of settling for long contested jumpers or forced shots at the rim is how Dallas can score points in a hurry even without their offensive centerpiece.
  • Chris Kaman (10 points, nine rebounds) might have been in for a big game if it weren’t for some foul trouble. He insisted on taking shots at the rim and not settling for mid range shots in the first quarter. He wasn’t really able to re-establish a rhythm in the second half, but with O.J. Mayo setting the world on fire he didn’t have to.
  • Despite the final margin, this game stood a chance of getting out of hand the other direction. The Mavs were down by 11 at one point and the Pistons, particularly Greg Monroe, simply could not buy a basket at the rim. Monroe shot a woeful 4-of-17 from the field and every single shot he took was in the paint. Had a few more of those fallen early, this game could have been a much different story.
  • The defensive effort in the third and fourth quarters were lead by Brand and Jae Crowder (four points, three steals). Crowder, in particular, played excellent post defense on Monroe and his defensive energy was a catalyst for the Mavericks dominating the fast break point differential (+22 for Dallas). However, there still needs to be some analysis done on Crowder’s offensive decision making. He was 1-for-8 from the field tonight and his three point shot selection in particular is concerning. He’s mostly open on those shots, but he’s open for a reason. He needs to take the ball to the basket in an attempt to draw contact or hit another open Maverick for a jump shot. The free throw line extended threes are of a particular concern as they rim out so badly when they are off that it often leads to a fast break opportunity for the opposing team.
  • Is Brandan Wright in Carlisle’s dog house? Tonight was his third “DNP-Coach’s Decision” in the last four games. Since the overtime loss to the Bobcats, he’s not seen action in four of the last nine games and has only seen 44 minutes of playing time in those five games.
  • It’s easy to become frustrated with Dallas, particularly with the way they’ve played in some of the blowout losses. They’ve tried every rotation combination possible. The team has shot the ball horribly at times. Rebounds are a huge issue, as are turnovers. Yet the team is missing it’s best player, is incorporating six to eight new players into the rotation, is playing two second round rookies significant minutes, and is only one game under .500 in the Western conference. Impressive, really.

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.

Tracked Inertia

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 11, 2012 under Commentary, Roster Moves | 7 Comments to Read

Screen Shot 2012-07-11 at 6.39.25 PM

The Dallas Mavericks can’t invest in long-term prospects and have seen the few possible short-term fixes pass them by. It’s a sad, treadmilled existence; the level of now-mandatory prudence keeps the Mavs in fine financial shape, but that alone doesn’t mean that they’re getting anywhere. The past week has demonstrated the tremendous risk involved in leveraging cap space, and yet Dallas has little option save to keep their books clear and try again.

But in the meantime, Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson will surely clad all kinds of rentals in Maverick blue. Dallas is very much in the running for an amnestied Elton Brand, among other targets, but the first solidified get is Dirk Nowitzki’s kind-of-German national teammate, Chris Kaman, who according to Marc Stein of, has agreed to terms on a one-year, $8 million deal. There’s not much flare to the pick-up, and not much potential; it’s a move designed solely to keep Dirk sane and the team’s head above water, and Kaman is a useful addition in both regards.

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The Difference: Oklahoma City Thunder 95, Dallas Mavericks 79

Posted by Rob Mahoney on May 4, 2012 under Recaps | 5 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Oklahoma City103.349.420.017.48.7

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

  • With the Mavericks splattered on the Thunder’s windshield, it seems a more appropriate time than ever to reinforce just how limited Dallas’ half-court offense has been this season. This crew has managed to salvage just enough possessions for us to wonder if they’re still capable of more, and yet time and time again these Mavs trip into performances like this one: outings filled with bouts of lame, stagnant offense, designed to flow but caught in the mire. Dirk Nowitzki is a miraculous player, but the team so carefully propelled by its balance last season has very clearly caved in, leaving Nowitzki as the one self-standing tentpole to bear the weight of a drooping roster.
    It’s all fun and games when the play action comes easy, but the virtues of extra passes and open shots don’t mean all that much when a team lacks the capability to consistently create such opportunities. Rick Carlisle has tried to find substitutes for the likes of J.J. Barea and Tyson Chandler, but ultimately failed to recreate the same perfect mix of ingredients that brought this same core their own slice of basketball immortality last June. Things could never be the same — not after all of the pieces Dallas lost, and after each of the team’s many additions subtly pushed the Mavs in a different direction. It’s no fault of the newcomers specifically, at least any more than it’s a fault of every Maverick; this was an experiment gone wrong, and though by nature of the process most eyes will turn to the experimenter himself in blame, every beaker and burner and unproductive big man played a part in not playing their part.
  • I’ve been among Brendan Haywood’s more generous supporters, and even I’ve completely run out of excuses and justifications for his poor performance. Perhaps Haywood still holds value in the right context, but at the moment that context seems far too limited to justify his standing or his salary. He actively holds the team back in the vein of an end-of-the-road Erick Dampier, and though he’s only 32 years old, Haywood seems to have sufficiently worn through much of his NBA utility. Haywood has seen Ian Mahinmi and Brandan Wright — two very imperfect players — take their turn in the spotlight during the regular season, all while he settled in with unimpressive rebounding, far too unreliable defense, and slim offensive relevance. Now he seems to have fully completed his downswing; his play leaves more to be desired than I would have possibly imagined, and he shrivels not in the shadow of Mahinmi, Wright, or even Chandler, but in the context of useful basketball players in the most general sense.

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Nothing Would Be What It Is, Everything Would Be What It Isn’t

Posted by Joon Kim on April 30, 2012 under xOther | Read the First Comment

Screen Shot 2012-04-30 at 3.52.17 PM

Joon Kim is the author of NBA Breakdown, and its subsidiaries, Spurs Motion Offense and The Triangle Offense — a tree of sites dedicated to analyzing the NBA’s structural elements. He’ll be contributing periodically to The Two Man Game with video-based breakdowns, illustrating particular aspects of the Mavericks’ performance. You can follow Joon on Twitter: @JoonKim00.

For the most part, every NBA team runs the same basic actions: screens, pick and rolls, and isolations. And why shouldn’t they?   Basketball is ultimately a simple sport – one team puts the basketball in the hoop more than the other and that team wins. While this is true of most teams, the Dallas Mavericks lie beyond the rabbit hole — where basketball conventions are twisted and your expectations must be set aside.

Last May, the Mavericks found themselves going up against the irrepressible potential of a youthful Thunder squad. The Thunder found themselves facing a team that wasn’t measured by its potential, but the pain of past experience. Now the Mavs find themselves facing a surging championship contender filled with bitter experiences of their own. While the teams may be the same, it’s difficult to say where this Mavs team lies. Their resolve has been softened with a championship, and those championship pieces are playing (or or currently “auditioning”) for other teams.

Yet in a season full of inconsistency, the Mavericks have found the best of themselves when facing the Oklahoma City Thunder. Perhaps this isn’t such a surprise. The orthodox attack of the Thunder may be more susceptible than most when facing the unique methods the Mavs regularly employ. Though time passes and the pieces have changed, the Mavericks embracing of unconventional methods could be the key to holding the Thunder down for one more year.

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The Two Man Game’s Official Dallas Mavericks Versus Oklahoma City Thunder Official Western Conference Quarterfinals Preview for the Official 2011-2012 Official NBA Post-Season

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 27, 2012 under Commentary, Previews | Read the First Comment

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No series in this year’s playoffs better illustrates the gulf between winning and winnable; the Dallas Mavericks begin their postseason journey against a familiar foe, and although they hold the potential for a hugely significant upset, there is an auspicious lack of logical explanation as to why the series might actually unfold along those terms. Based on the evidence we have, we can’t write the Mavs off completely, and yet the Thunder are simply too good to not be penciled in for the second round on the basis of their far steadier — and noticeably more superior — play on both ends of the court. The playoffs always bring the potential for a reset and subsequent upset, but we can’t rightly expect either without even the slightest justification.

There’s reason to think that the Mavs might be competitive in this series, but we lack the magic bullet that could throw any predictions over the top. There’s a chorus for good reason; “Oklahoma City in six,” is the most reasonable outcome at this point, although there’s a distinct possibility of this series breaking in virtually any which way. We shouldn’t be surprised to see the Mavs push this to seven or lose in four; there are too many variables at work to have a good feel for how either team might play over the course of this series, leaving us with questions on questions and OKC’s far more convincing regular season exploits.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 104, Golden State Warriors 94

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 21, 2012 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

Screen Shot 2012-04-21 at 1.35.22 AM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Golden State96.950.025.315.29.8

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

  • This could have been a thorough drubbing, but instead Dallas opted for a comfortable win. As much as you’d like to see unwavering effort from the better team in a game like this one, realistically the Mavs were going to let down a bit, they were going to coast at times, and they were going to rest on their laurels. There’s not much to read into there; the mindset of these Mavs has never really been in question, and how they performed — or chose to perform in this particular game is really of little consequence.
  • But if you’re the kind to worry yourself with the Mavericks’ effort in this game for whatever reason, Dallas’ impressive offensive rebounding marks — a display of pure effort — should at least help to assuage some concern. While it’s true that even a fully healthy Warriors team wouldn’t provide stiff competition on the glass, the Mavs were at least committed to exploiting weakness; Brendan Haywood, Ian Mahinmi, and Brandan Wright combined for 10 offensive boards on their own, and their statistical excellence was a product of a slew of back-taps and team-wide hustle. Dallas may not have had the attention span to be troubled with consistent execution, but they at least worked to keep the Warriors off the glass.
  • After back-to-back games plagued by an odd disinterest, it’s good to see Shawn (14 points, 5-10 FG, eight rebounds) Marion actively engaged again. I still wouldn’t suspect that focus would be a problem for Marion in the playoff series to come, but it’s nice to see any potential warning sign erased, regardless.

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The Difference: Utah Jazz 123, Dallas Mavericks 121

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 17, 2012 under Recaps | 6 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot Chart Game Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR

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

  • This game went all the way to the competitive limit, but Dallas’ defense eventually collapsed because of its collapses by design. The Mavericks were content to swarm the Jazz bigs on their interior catches, and although that’s sound strategy considering the personnel and skill sets of both teams, Utah benefited from far too many wide open jumpers. A result this insanely intricate obviously wasn’t decided by those comfortable J’s alone, but if we’re looking for a consistent factor that carried more weight than, say, controversial calls or specific late-game sets, attentions should rightly turn to how so many Jazz shooters found unoccupied real estate. Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Gordon Hayward don’t need offensive help, and yet because of the specific gaps in the Mavericks’ defensive matchups, there was little choice for Dallas but to offer systemic help. Look to Jefferson and Millsap’s tough late-game makes, an absent whistle, or Devin Harris’ baffling number of threes, but the Mavs seemed to really lose this game when their inability to create stable offense became juxtaposed with their defense conceding that very thing to the Jazz.
  • If nothing else, this game taught us plenty about Rick Carlisle’s desperation for offense, and more specifically, his designs to improve the Mavs’ offensive potential with perimeter shooting. Dirk Nowitzki (40 points, 13-26 FG, nine rebounds, six assists) was predictably spectacular, but no Maverick seemed both interested and capable enough to assist him throughout the bulk of this game. Jason Terry (27 points, 11-25 FG, 4-9 3FG) was absolutely tremendous late and both Delonte West (16 points, 5-8 FG) and Vince Carter (18 points, 5-15 FG, 12 rebounds, four assists) did great work in spots, but had all of their efforts come earlier and more consistently, this game may have been decided in regulation. Dallas was wanting for scoring of any kind beyond Nowitzki, so much so that Carlisle kept Brendan Haywood on the bench for the game’s final 30 minutes in favor of the more offensively capable Ian Mahinmi, and parked Marion — who was unmistakably absent in his time on the floor — for the final 27 minutes in favor of either Carter or West. That’s a pretty lengthy substitution of defense for offense, particularly when Jefferson is so formidable down low and Gordon Hayward was blowing by Jason Kidd with regularity. Yet considering the downward slope Dallas’ defense has taken over the last 20 games or so, an offensive jump-start is an absolute necessity. This isn’t a one-time occurrence; this team’s scoring is in shambles, and the defense is no longer oppressive enough to pull out consistent wins. Substitution patterns this radical may have been too great a cost, but Carlisle’s concern for the offense within the context of this game and the playoffs is rather clear.

The Difference: Los Angeles Lakers 112, Dallas Mavericks 108

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 15, 2012 under Recaps | 5 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot Chart — Game Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Los Angeles117.948.929.029.46.3

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

  • This was a game that deserved to go into overtime, and unlike far too many extra-period affairs of the post-lockout season, actually behooved its audience to. Dallas may have bogged itself down into isolating Dirk Nowitzki (24 points, 9-28 FG, 3-8 3FG, 14 rebounds) at times in an effort to get him going, but for the most part the Mavericks’ ball movement was quite good; Jason Terry (21 points, 8-15 FG, 5-6 3FG, four assists) and Delonte West (20 points, 9-15 FG) both did wonderful work as shot creators, and the entire offense was built on and benefited from the virtues of the extra pass. Sadly, execution doesn’t always lead to elite efficiency; try as the Mavs might to work the ball around and make the right plays, Nowitzki’s shooting struggles and the Lakers’ ability to apply defensive pressure in all the right places kept this a wide-open game. Meanwhile, the Lakers sans Kobe were in a position to exploit the necessity of the Mavs’ over-helping; only Brendan Haywood had the hope of checking Andrew Bynum without a double team, a fact which essentially required that each of Ian Mahinmi and Brandan Wright’s minutes be plagued with openings on the weak side. It wasn’t the fault of Jason Kidd (who was often caught cheating off of his man to help on Bynum), or even Wright. It’s merely the reality of this rotation, and if these two teams meet in a potential first-round series, it’s a reality the Mavericks will have to confront on more specific terms. (One related thought: A potential factor that could oddly make the Lakers’ swing passing more manageable from a Maverick perspective? Kobe Bryant. Players so brilliant rarely make decisions as oddly short-sighted as those Bryant makes with regularity. He may think three moves ahead of his defender in the post, but basketball chess games last a bit longer than three moves.)
  • There’s no use in demanding perfection of any team at this stage in the season, particularly one that has seen as much in-season variance as these Mavericks. That said, is it enough to be pleased with strong effort and decent execution against an opponent missing a star? I was going to say that this game sums up Dallas’ season nicely, but perhaps that response does so even more aptly.

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