The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 109, Los Angeles Clippers 102

Posted by Kirk Henderson on March 27, 2013 under Recaps | 4 Comments to Read

Clipper

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 strategic decision to double team Chris Paul late in the fourth quarter (33 points, seven turnovers) stifled Paul at the perfect moment for Dallas. Starting with a jumper over Mike James at the 4:13 mark in the fourth, Paul put on a one-man 6-0 run to pull the Clippers from down 87-90 to up 93-90 in just 79 seconds. By doubling Paul early in the shot clock, Dallas effectively shut down any semblance of offense for Los Angeles. The other Clippers looked unsure what to do offensively and the result was three contested three pointers that would not fall, giving Dallas a chance to get back into the game after Paul’s momentum shifting run.
  • In a refreshing return to form, Dallas insisted on going to Dirk Nowtizki (33 points, nine rebounds) in both the fourth quarter and overtime. In those final two periods of basketball Dirk scored 15 points on a mere six shot attempts, getting to the line seven times. The concern over the Dallas guards and their inability to get the ball to Dirk is not an issue that will go away with one game, but seeing Darren Collison actively look to give Dirk the ball when he’s posting up hard is a welcome change.
  • While the focus might be on O.J. Mayo’s impressive driving lay up to send the game into over time, his defensive efforts on Chris Paul at the end of the third and during the double teaming sequence of the fourth were fantastic. His length seemed to bother Paul much more than Mike James, Darren Collison, or even Shawn Marion, forcing Paul into a few uncharacteristic bad decisions. Oddly, coach Rick Carlisle gave Shawn Marion the assignment for the final Clipper regulation play (where Paul hit an incredible lay up at a nearly impossible angle), but I would’ve rather seen him stick with what had frustrated Paul in previous possessions.
  • While I value Rick Carlisle immensely (see above with his choice to double Paul), he’s been very inflexible at times this season. Against the Clippers, his late game and overtime play calling nearly cost Dallas the game.  The decision to run isolation plays for Vince Carter in the final minute of the fourth and the final minute of overtime defy logic, particularly in the overtime when Dirk had been unstoppable. Carter has been brilliant this season, but is at his best on catch and shoot threes and trying to get to the rim against the bench players of an opponent. Carlisle put Vince in situations did not necessarily play to his current strengths, particularly when the Mavericks have another potent final shot taker.
  • The Mavericks started the third quarter in frustrating fashion, picking up four team fouls in under two minutes. After putting the Clippers into the bonus with nearly seven and a half minutes left in the quarter, it felt as if the game might get out of hand quickly for Dallas. However, the often foul-prone Mavericks only committed two more fouls the remainder of the period and managed to keep pace with a Clipper offense that is capable to putting up points quickly.
  • The ever reliable Shawn Marion (four points, four turnovers) looked out of sync from the opening tip. Though it’s surely not a trend, it was bizarre to see how off Shawn Marion was with his timing. As he’s aged and lost aspects of his athleticism, his game has shifted more towards anticipation and understanding of the game. He misplaced passes on offense, mistimed jumps on rebounds, and was surprisingly ineffective on defense. That the Mavericks won without a strong Marion contribution is fantastic, but I remain shocked at how out of sorts Marion looked against the Clippers.
  • Center by committee won out again, with Brandan Wright and Elton Brand chipping in a combined 19 points, 12 rebounds, and six blocks . With Dirk both missing games and taking time to round into form, it was a clear challenge for the coaching staff to determine which players work in a given situation with such a limited sample size of data. I remain shocked that a Wright-Nowitzki front court has worked reasonably well defensively. That all of these pieces are coming together at all is a testament to the players and the coaching staff. It’s is also a lesson for fans just how important chemistry is and how long it can take to build.

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.

Thermodynamics: Week 11

Posted by Travis Wimberly on January 10, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Read the First Comment

Ice

Thermodynamics (n.) – the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy

The winless warriors strike again. The Mavs just completed another week in which they consistently played hard but failed to win a single game. If you’re still watching each game in full, good on you. You’re a true fan (or a masochist).

Let’s dive into the good, the bad, and the ugly of the Mavs’ week.

Week 11 (Hornets, @Jazz, @Clippers)

FIRE

1) Elton Brand

Brand turned in a nicely productive week. He averaged 10.3 points per game (PPG)— well above his season average of 6.9 PPG— and shot a cumulative 14-of-23 (61%) from the floor. He was particularly effective from mid-range, going 6-of-7 (88%) on shots from over 15 feet. Most importantly, Brand exercised prudent shot selection and played within the flow of the Mavs’ offense — of his 14 field goals this week, 12 were assisted (86%). This last point explains in large part why Brand shot so well; Brand was consistently in a position this week to receive the ball after dribble penetration and ball movement had scattered the opposing defense, and when that happens, he has the ability to be a very effective mid-range shooter.

Moving forward, I’d like to see two more things from Brand. First, I’d like to see him rebound more consistently. He averaged 5.3 rebounds per game (RPG) this week, which was bolstered largely by his 20-minute, nine-rebound performance in Utah. He did not rebound very well in the other two games, as evidenced by his DReb numbers: 13.5% against the Hornets, 9.6% against the Clippers, per Hoopdata. A big man of Brand’s height, frame, and skill should be closer to 20.0%, if not even higher. The second thing I’d like to see from Brand is mostly out of his control: I want to see him play more. I think he should start at center (moving Chris Kaman to a bench role) and play 28-30 MPG. The Mavs’ defense is considerably more effective when Brand plays with Dirk (once we have a bigger sample size, I believe the on-court/off-court stats will bear this out). Considering how poor the Mavs’ defense has been for most of the year, this one minor adjustment could make a noticeable difference.

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Dallas Mavericks 90, Los Angeles Clippers 112

Posted by Connor Huchton on December 6, 2012 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

Silbury Hill

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGame 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.

  • It’s difficult to say 22 things about a game as disheartening as Thursday night’s debacle, but I’ll do my best.
  • The Clippers executed a perfect storm of exposing the Mavericks’ weaknesses. The Mavericks failed noticeably in the following areas: perimeter defense, three-point shooting, rebounding, turnover control, and any sense of cohesion systemically on the defensive end. So, pretty much everything.
  • The Mavericks even squandered an unlikely effort from Derek Fisher (15 points), who was the only Maverick other than Vince Carter (16 points, seven rebounds) who appeared comfortable with his jumper. Oh, what a journey it’s been over the last few weeks.
  • O.J. Mayo’s recent shooting struggles continued, but his inevitable regression shouldn’t worry the team too greatly. This was always bound to happen, and Mayo couldn’t carry the team forever. As long as he continues to make threes at a reasonable rate, he’ll remain the team’s most productive player.
  • What should worry the Mavericks is how thoroughly inconsistent and unsure Darren Collison’s (8 points, 2-5 FG, two assists, five turnovers) recent play has been. Collison is still the Mavericks’ best point guard option and has enough talent to maintain a competent offense, but he seems to have lost some sense of confidence in recent weeks, compounded with a lack of aggression that has submarined his production.
  • With Collison playing as he did, Fisher deserved every minute he played tonight.
  • Jae Crowder is being asked to do far too much for a second-rounder in his rookie season, as was apparent tonight. Crowder has earned a spot in the rotation, but he’s not able to sustain success from game to game, especially when thrust into a starter’s role.
  • 13 Mavericks played tonight, which usually indicates a blowout of some kind. This wasn’t the good kind.
  • How many analytic statements is that now?
  • As poorly as he’s played this season, I’m of the belief that Rodrigue Beaubois, who played four minutes tonight, might as well get an opportunity to run the team, however briefly. Until Dirk Nowitzki returns in ____ weeks, this team lacks identity. Beaubois has enough talent to give taking a chance with minute allocation some credence, and the offense simply isn’t flowing under the direction of any other Mavericks’ point guard.
  • The ease with which Chris Paul (14 points, 13 assists) navigated through the key doomed the Mavericks from the very beginning. Very few Clippers’ baskets could be classified as ‘tough’, and Blake Griffin’s double-double (19 points, 13 rebounds) was recorded all to easily at the rim.
  • Though point guard defense isn’t overly consequential in the grand scheme of the game, it can hold a significant impact when the defensive efforts at the position are terrific or the opposite. The latter is too often true with the Mavericks’ personnel – Fisher and Collison aren’t quite Rondo and Paul in that respect.
  • I’d like to see Chris Kaman receive more opportunities in the post on nights like tonight, when little else is working, but that also requires better perimeter passing than the Mavericks showcased.
  • 123-149. That’s the record of Mavericks’ opponents this season, and an 8-10 record against that level of competition might be the most discouraging statistic of all.
  • Of course, things were not always so morbid. But winning four of the last thirteen games can certainly make one forget the 4-1 streak that preceded it.
  •  It’s interesting how much better the Mavericks have been with Derek Fisher on the floor in limited minutes thus far. According to 82games.com, the Mavericks are 23.7 points better per 48 minutes with Fisher playing.
  • Of course, further research reveals that the area where the Mavericks are significantly better with Fisher on the floor is the defensive end. Though it’s possible Derek Fisher is leading a defensive revolution, it’s highly unlikely.
  • His impact was minimal tonight in 12 minutes of playing time, but Brandan Wright likely deserves a stronger presence in the rotation. The Mavericks are simply better with him on the court – he’s part of the Mavericks’ best heavily-played lineup (Collison-Mayo-Marion-Brand-Wright), and he often outproduces his competition, though his defensive issues remain.
  • But paired with a player like Brand, who can counteract some of Wright’s deficiencies, Wright’s production is well worth its possible defensive price.
  • The Mavericks play the Suns and Kings in two of their next three games, so a couple of necessary winning performances are on the essential horizon.
  • And we made it to 22 statements. Thanks for reading.

Oppenheimer’s Deadly Toy

Posted by Shay Christian Vance on November 16, 2012 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

Mk_6_nuclear_bomb

LeBron James had become death, the Shatterer of Worlds. If July 8th, 2010 was the date that the bomb dropped, the NBA’s Manhattan Project had started long before. It has been said that while all three of Miami’s Superfriends were affable since their arrival in the 2003 draft class, it was the 2008 Olympics where their cabal was created and real plans forged. All of them passed on full contract extensions, went into free agency where any team could have them for the right price, but ended up with Pat Riley, who just happenstancely had decided to rebuild in the middle of Dwayne Wade’s prime and had the money to pay all three available. Jeff Van Gundy prophesied they’d win more than 72 games and the era of player-created teams began.

Mere days after the Decision, Carmelo Anthony’s wedding brought together many of basketball’s young superstars. It was there that Chris Paul declared to form his own “Big Three,” supposedly referring to Amare’ Stoudemire, Carmelo, and himself. For all those that had foreseen apocalypse in The Decision, it was now undeniable: the end was nigh. Small markets and less desirable locales would be destroyed by pillars of fire, prayers went up that Michael, Larry and Magic would be raptured before having to see a future where would-be rivals were teammates. These upstarts would rule the Earth soon enough, friendship and collusion would hold the basketball world in an iron grip. And the next shoe did drop shortly behind the first: Amar’e signed with New York in the off-season with Carmelo following in a mid-season trade.

Not all that was foreseen came to pass. Miami failed to live up to its immediate expectations and there was talk of Spoelestra being fired (not that anyone would be silly enough to fire a coach shortly after adding two star players…). The Heat lost in the Finals their first season after adding James and Bosh. As quickly as it had been declared they would set a new record of wins, their loss in the Finals to the Dallas Mavericks brought about declarations that LeBron would never win a championship.

Praise was heaped on the Mavericks from every direction as all those who had foretold the demise of their beloved sport instead were reassured in the success of the previous status quo. The Mavericks won their sole championship on the back of a slow build through draft, trade and free agency, and the continuation of the trusted method of paying the luxury tax to win. Dallas had provided a reprieve with which to review how the NBA’s greatest teams of 2011 had been formed: OKC’s drafted nucleus, Dallas’ free agent and trade, Miami’s player-as-GM foray. One team was noticeably absent.

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The Difference: Los Angeles Clippers 94, Dallas Mavericks 75

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 3, 2012 under xOther | 5 Comments to Read

Screen Shot 2012-04-03 at 8.29.31 AM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame 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.

  • Jason Kidd missed Monday’s game — and is sidelined for the next three, as I understand it — with a groin strain. That’s a bummer, but it’s a valuable opportunity for Delonte West to quickly work himself back into game shape. It’s a trial by fire (or by burn?), sure, but getting a fully effective West back into the regular rotation is a top priority at this point. Dallas needs his shot creation, shooting, and defense badly, and although West was brilliant on Friday against Orlando, Monday was perhaps a more accurate reflection of his game.
  • Rodrigue Beaubois struggled even more mightily. Rick Carlisle seems fully prepared to take the bad with the good when it comes to Beaubois, but it’s these kinds of performances that will likely change his mind. Beaubois’ overdribbling was a big problem, and on a night when Dallas was already struggling to establish consistent ball movement, having the ball lodged on one side of the floor as Beaubois looked to break his man down was pretty painful. Also: in the first quarter, Beaubois threw one of the worst swing passes I’ve ever seen, missing a wide open Jason Terry by a good five feet.
  • At no point did this particular game look good for the Mavs. Even their more adequate runs were laced with turnovers and defensive lapses, and their very occasional buckets weren’t really created as a result of any kind of offensive process. It’s good to know that Dallas can still put up 75 points with every bit of beneficial offensive structure burned to the ground, but I don’t suspect they’ll win many games with offensive execution so lackluster and defensive effort so wanting.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 96, Los Angeles Clippers 92

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 14, 2012 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

Screen shot 2012-02-14 at 10.42.28 AM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas91.0105.548.125.329.611.1
Los Angeles101.151.433.828.231.5

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

  • Dallas didn’t play terrific D, but packing the paint and trapping Chris Paul made the league’s top offense very beatable. The Clippers — simplistic though their offense may be at times — are so incredibly effective if Paul is given any kind of access to the paint, so the Mavs walled it off (in part by assigning Shawn Marion to cover Paul) and lived with the results. Caron Butler and Mo Williams hit a combined eight three-pointers as a result, but the Mavs were able to prevent the more foundational play actions that would have set up a rhythm for the Clips’ inside-out offense. Defense against an elite offense is always going to involve some give and take, and though there were some breakdowns and plenty of surrendered perimeter jumpers, the Mavs were able to minimize Paul’s impact and keep things contained in the paint.

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Turning the Crank

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 11, 2011 under News, Roster Moves | 6 Comments to Read

Screen shot 2011-12-10 at 11.44.17 PM
Things…appear to have taken a bit of a turn.

According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the possible three-team deal that would have sent Chris Paul to the Lakers is now dead, and Lamar Odom — who was set to go to New Orleans as a part of the transaction — will instead be sent to Dallas in exchange for the traded player exception created by Dallas in the Tyson Chandler deal. Or, in a less convoluted way: the Mavs have turned the inevitable, gainless departure of a prized free agent into the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.

No matter how you slice or dice that transaction, you’ll arrive at the same conclusion: that’s a hell of a move.

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Bones on Bones

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 10, 2011 under Commentary, News, Roster Moves | 2 Comments to Read

Screen shot 2011-12-10 at 3.50.57 PM

The Mavs weren’t expected to make much commotion during this year’s abridged free agency, but they’ve already made one move in anticipation of another. The Knicks’ acquisition of Tyson Chandler — originally designed to be an outright free agent signing — has officially been processed as a three-team, sign-and-trade endeavor, scoring Dallas an $11 million trade exception, a protected second round pick (via Washington), and the imminently waivable Andy Rautins. According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Mavs are already working to use that traded player exception to acquire Samuel Dalembert on a one-year deal via sign-and-trade with Sacramento.

It’s a lot of hustle and bustle (especially when coupled with Dallas’ signing of Brandan Wright, and likely acquisition on Vince Carter) for a team largely anticipated to stand pat, but it’s worth waiting for the smoke to clear before we take full stock in Dallas’ off-season haul. Trade exceptions, by nature, are transitory tools; they’re only worth what a team is able to gain with them, and we’ll have a better grasp of the yield from the Chandler sign-and-trade as soon as Dalembert makes his decision. The Mavs are hardly the only team pursuing him; Stein also noted that Houston was interested in acquiring Dalembert if the Rockets’ other options fell through, meaning the Mavs’ next play could lean on the reconstruction and upcoming review of the Chris Paul blockbuster.

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Rumor Mongering: Taking Inventory

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 6, 2011 under Commentary, Rumors | 4 Comments to Read

Screen shot 2011-12-06 at 12.35.30 AM

Look, I don’t want to be tossing these wistful ideas around, and if you’re dawdling around these parts, odds are that you don’t much like reading them. Yet we must depart from the usual realism to discuss one specific rumor, from Marc Stein and Chris Broussard of ESPN.com:

There is also a small handful of teams that has informed the Hornets they are prepared to trade for Paul with no assurance that they can keep him beyond this season. That list, sources say, includes the Rockets, Boston Celtics and defending champion Dallas Mavericks.

Each of those teams would be gambling that Paul would be won over by his new surroundings and either elect to play out the final season of his current contract (valued at $17.8 million in 2012-13) or opt out of his contract on July 1, 2012, and sign a new deal. Paul’s 2011-12 salary is listed at $16.4 million.

How wonderful. Obviously Chris Paul would be an incredible get for the Mavs, but like so many other franchises reportedly vying to obtain him via trade, Dallas is low on assets. Just so we’re all on the same page, let’s run down the slim list of Maverick pieces that would be attractive to a team like the Hornets:

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Multiple Choice

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Commentary | 3 Comments to Read

Screen shot 2011-12-05 at 7.20.56 PM

In yesterday’s Bullets, Henry Abbott noted the following:

If the Mavericks are really being stingy with Tyson Chandler I suppose that could be taken as a sign the new CBA is having some effect. The Mavericks are like the Knicks and Lakers in how they have spent, historically, but they are not at all like those teams in how they earn, and have lost mighty amounts of money as a result. A stiff luxury tax could, in theory, hurt Cuban more than anyone — as he’s one of the owners already feeling the most financial pain.

It’s true — Dallas has historically been a big-spending team, but without the revenue streams that make franchises like the Lakers and Knicks so insanely profitable. Mark Cuban is likely to be one of the first influenced by the new luxury tax as a result, and we may see the implications of that deterrence sooner rather than later.

But if the Mavericks fail to re-sign Tyson Chandler this summer, it will have little to do with the tax or the new collective bargaining agreement. The Mavericks will likely pay the luxury tax this season, but at a dollar-for-dollar rate with a lower overall payroll than last season (largely due to Caron Butler’s salary being off the books), Cuban would get a bit of a financial break relative to his team’s title campaign even if he and Donnie Nelson chose to keep Chandler around. The Mavs’ defensive centerpiece could be had for a sizable financial investment and only a par-for-the-course luxury tax penalty, if only Cuban willed it so.

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