The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 97, Golden State Warriors 100

Posted by Connor Huchton on February 1, 2013 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

Clouds

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.

  • For years and years, the Mavericks prided themselves on winning close games, often on the heels of a Dirk Nowitzki (DNP; injury) fadeaway. With Dirk out of the lineup and this year’s Mavericks’ team performing dreadfully in close games, the team’s sputtering finish against a deep Warriors’ squad shouldn’t surprise. But it still does, and it acts an originator of a thousand “What if’s?” What if O.J. Mayo (8-13 FG, 3-5 3PT, 6-8 FT, 25 points, six assists, five rebounds) makes both of his free throws in the final minute? What if the possible foul on Brandan Wright (4-8 FG, nine points, three rebounds) is called? What if _______? In the end, that blank space can only be filled by disappointment.
  • Like so many other Mavericks’ losses of the same brand, it’s difficult to find much issue with any aspect of the Mavericks’ game plan beyond the team’s execution in the final minutes. The Mavericks battled back and forth with Golden State all night, and fought bravely to give themselves a chance to win, albeit one which they did not ultimately take. All the same, Mayo played brilliantly and nicely utilized his transition abilities, Shawn Marion (8-11 FG, 18 points, 17 rebounds) rebounded like it was 2006, and the rest of the Mavericks collectively provided acceptable play, despite struggling with help defense on Klay Thompson (11-18 FG, 3-7 3PT, 27 points) and allowing David Lee (6-13 FG, 15 points, 20 rebounds, nine assists) to corral seven essential offensive rebounds.
  • The potency of Lee’s game appeared in full force tonight. The Mavericks did a fine job of assessing and guarding Lee in the post-up situations he often thrives on, but also at times overcommitted or lost help defense awareness, leading to Lee’s nine assists (often from passes to open shooters) and a weighty rebounding total of 20 for the All-Star power forward. Lee’s offensive game is vast, and the Mavericks were quite often an audience to the power of that vastness on Thursday night.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 112, Golden State Warriors 103

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 13, 2012 under Recaps | 4 Comments to Read

Screen Shot 2012-04-13 at 9.09.33 AM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas92.0121.755.122.730.410.9
Golden State112.051.228.433.317.4

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

  • Considering that every NBA team should be expected to make a run at some point or another, this game went quite well. One could demand better maintenance of a double-digit margin, want particular players to score more effectively against such lackluster defense, or pick nits here with Dallas’ occasionally odd execution, but in a general sense it’s hard to look down on an effort where Jason Kidd (nine points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds, three steals, two blocks, two turnovers) made a real impact, Rodrigue Beaubois (11 points, 5-9 FG, five assists, one turnover) was among the more constructive forces on the floor, the reserves managed 57 points, and Dirk Nowitzki (27 points, 10-23 FG) was Dirk Nowitzki. This certainly wasn’t a spotless performance, but it was another quality outing at a time when Dallas can’t afford anything less.
  • For the pessimists out there: the Mavs’ execution of the pick and roll seemed fairly lazy at times, as Kidd and Delonte West in particular were completely derailed in their pocket-pass attempts. Things will certainly have to get crisper in that regard, and the transition defense could still use plenty of improvement. Neither of those shortcomings was enough of a problem to put Dallas’ efforts in serious jeopardy, but they could prove more costly if they persist against better competition.
  • In their current form, the Warriors are a perfectly miserable basketball team. There were some decent individual efforts on Thursday, but overall the team’s operation is reminiscent of a confined gas; they’re objects floating within the limits of a particular space, toward no end in particular and without any coherence of movement or purpose. The Mavs’ defensive inattentions afforded the Warriors the space to make their random bounces seem constructive, but this is a team in disarray, to say the least.

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The Difference: Golden State Warriors 111, Dallas Mavericks 87

Posted by James Herbert on March 11, 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.

  • There aren’t a lot of positives to take from a loss like this, except for the fact that it’s probably not all that representative of anything. The reality: the Mavs are now the third team this season to lose all three games of a back-to-back-to-back. At 23-20, they’ve dropped eight of ten and would occupy the West’s final playoff spot if the season ended today. Fortunately, the season doesn’t end today. This brutal stretch of nine games in 12 nights is over and I’m closer to the Mark Cuban “these losses are meaningless” school of thought than the “Dallas is a disaster” stance that clean-shaven Sam Mitchell took on NBA TV Friday night. Brendan Haywood will be back soon, Delonte West after that, and we’ll look for incremental improvements over the next month or so.
  • Oh, Jason Kidd will be back soon, too. He was a late scratch. No need to play the soon-to-be 39-year-old on three straight nights. This meant we were treated to a starting backcourt of Jason Terry and Dominique Jones, with Rodrigue Beaubois and Vince Carter theoretically adding scoring punch off the bench. For JET, it was his first start since last January. For Jones, it was the first of his career. Also, this was Terry’s 1000th career regular season game.
  • For the second night in a row, Dallas looked old and slow and fell behind early to a non-playoff team. The Warriors scored the first six points of the game and Rick Carlisle took his first timeout with 6:31 left in the first, down 11-5. The Mavs’ legs were dragging from the opening tip, while the Warriors, who hadn’t played since Wednesday, were full of energy, even if it wasn’t always channeled correctly. The Mavs started the first quarter shooting 2-13 and finished it 6-22.
  • That energy I talked about? Much of it came from Ekpe Udoh, who was running and jumping and contesting shots all over the place. Early in the first, he challenged a Dirk Nowitzki jumper, then blocked Ian Mahinmi’s follow attempt. He blocked a Nowitzki shot a few possessions later. He should become a Serge Ibaka-like league-wide fan favorite as soon as the Warriors are relevant.
  • The first quarter wasn’t all one-sided and it wasn’t just the Mavericks being sloppy — both teams had six turnovers in the opening frame. After that timeout with 6:31 left, Rodrigue Beaubois and Lamar Odom checked in. Both immediately hit threes and tied the game at 11. But in the last 3:31, Golden State went on a 13-2 run. For the rest of the game, Dallas was playing catch-up.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 101, Golden State Warriors 73

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 21, 2011 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

Screen shot 2011-03-21 at 3.00.38 PM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas93.0108.650.026.325.016.1
Golden State78.538.318.213.017.2

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin, give or take a dozen or so considering the ridiculous scoring margin of this game.

  • It’s hard to ask for more in a bounce-back game. The Mavs completely smothered a solid offensive team, they cleaned the glass, got quality shot attempts all around, Kept Monta Ellis (18 points, 7-18 FG, four assists, three turnovers) and Steph Curry (11 points, 4-12 FG, six rebounds, six assists) relatively quiet, and contested the hell out of everything. Wins against the Warriors only mean so much, but Dallas needed this game, and more importantly they needed a performance as dominant as this one. It’s hopefully only the beginning of a renewed commitment to defensive detail.
  • Not only do the Warriors lack even a single notable defender to counter Dirk Nowitzki (20 points, 9-15 FG, six rebounds), but they no longer even have a pesky, high-risk defender (a la Stephen Jackson) to cause problems with speed and active hands. David Lee was visibly frustrated in trying to defend Nowitzki, and the other defenders Golden State threw at Dirk probably should have been frustrated. Lou Amundson, Ekpe Udoh, and a handful of others had their shot, and not one of them did a passable job of defending the Mavs’ headliner. (One exception: Udoh’s on-ball block on a Dirk jumper early in the fourth quarter. A good play, but not exactly consistent with the Warriors’ total body of work in defending Nowitzki in this one )
  • Tyson Chandler (seven points, 17 rebounds) and Ian Mahinmi (nine points, 13 rebounds) were both glorious, which is the kind of thing that tends to happen against poor rebounding teams without competent defensive bigs. No sign of Brendan Haywood, but it didn’t matter in the slightest; Chandler and Mahinmi did excellent work on both ends of the court, and their rebounding totals speak for themselves. Standing O for the Maverick center corps, even if Haywood just had a view from the sidelines.
  • Peja Stojakovic (17 points, 6-11 FG, 5-8 3FG) had a tremendous game, largely because his threes were falling. Stojakovic made a trio of three-pointers in the first minute and a half of the third quarter, despite the fact that he hadn’t played since March 7th. Good on him for coming out guns a’blazing. That said, a game like this one speaks to how random Stojakovic’s good and poor games really are. There are plenty of nights when Peja is a non-factor, and he leaves the game with only a handful of shooting attempts. However, often the only significant difference between this kind of showing and his 2-of-8 nights is the outcome of his attempts. Stojakovic doesn’t really force shot attempts, meaning that those shots he does take are typically open ones. On Sunday, those shots fell. In other games, they won’t. But how does Rick Carlisle go about getting production from an offense-only player (or on another level, how does Carlisle decide when to play Stojakovic and when to pull him) whose most significant offensive flaw is the fact that he can’t make every shot? Stojakovic may be limited, but he stays within himself, so much so that his production is almost entirely reduced to the open three-pointer make-miss binary.
  • I find Udoh’s defensive potential incredibly intriguing, but the guy just isn’t an NBA-ready offensive player. He can grab the occasional bucket off a cut or offensive board, but he doesn’t have any kind of high or low post game and isn’t even a serious pick-and-roll threat. Even for a team that so badly needs his defensive impact, that’s a problem.
  • Good to see: Dallas had no intent to give up easy looks inside. The Mavs contested well even when various Warriors got all the way to the rim, and in the cases when the back line was out of position, the Maverick bigs took hard, limiting fouls.
  • This was fun:
  • I can’t remember the last Warriors game I saw in which I though Golden State utilized Reggie Williams as much as they should. Williams had a nice run during the Warriors’ D-League call-up rush last season, but on a healthy roster Williams tends to get lost in the shuffle. Their loss.
  • Nowitzki did a pretty nice job of hedging on pick-and-rolls, which isn’t exactly a staple in his game. Dirk isn’t the most mobile big around, but he was able to stall Monta Ellis in a potentially dangerous situation long enough for a perimeter player to recover. Claims of Nowitzki’s defensive ineptitude are still largely hyperbolized, but it’s still nice to see him deter a Maverick-killer like Ellis from turning the corner on screens.
  • Dallas played a good offensive game against Golden State, but not a great one. That said, it’s good to see this team get to the free throw line with notable frequency, grab plenty of offensive boards, and execute for good attempts. The turnovers could still stand to go down and the shots didn’t always fall, but this was a pretty sound offensive outing.
  • Rodrigue Beaubois (15 points, 5-11 FG, four rebounds, four assists, five turnovers) has done an outstanding job of putting pressure on opposing defenses in the last few games. Beaubois can become a bit passive for stretches, but he wasn’t settling for step-back threes or mere spot-up attempts in this one; drives into the paint were commonplace, and from that point Beaubois was creating scoring opportunities at the rim or kicking out to his teammates for open jumpers.
  • One note about Beaubois’ abilities as a drive-and-kick player: his kick-out passes tend to sail a bit. The accuracy is there, but by lobbing those passes a bit more than he should, Beaubois negates some of the impact of his drive and wastes precious time in the open shooting window for his teammates. Even a bit more arc on those feeds allows defenders time to adjust and contest, so bringing those kick-out passes down a bit could go a long way in picking up Beaubois’ passing effectiveness.
  • All you need to know: there were sequences in this game in which Vladimir Radmanovic was used as a token center. I know Andris Biedrins was out with injury and David Lee had foul trouble at times, but once you’ve reached that point in the rotation, why bother with convention? Throw another wing out there and see what happens. Worst case scenario, Dorrell Wright or some other forward gives up buckets inside. Best case: you might be able to cut into that deficit with hot shooting, or even be able to shoot Tyson Chandler off the floor if he doesn’t chase his man all the way to the three-point line. Radmanovic is no answer, regardless.
  • Dallas does more odd defensive cross-matching than any team in the league. It’s certainly not uncommon to see a given team swap coverage among PG-SG, SG-SF, or PF-C, but the Mavs are the only team that regularly pits their starting point guard — Jason Kidd — against opposing small forwards with regularity. Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler are constantly flipping coverages to pit Chandler against the greater offensive threat, and Carlisle switches up Beaubois, Kidd, DeShawn Stevenson, Jason Terry, and J.J. Barea all the time. PER allowed by position may be more irrelevant for the Mavs than any other players in the league.
  • An odd sequence with 32 seconds remaining in the first half: David Lee attempts to back down Beaubois from the wing, but makes no progress whatsoever after a few seconds’ work. Incredible, right? Well, it’s less so after a closer inspection, as Beaubois appeared to be giving Lee a double arm-bar to the back, the bane of post players everywhere and — as I understand it — an automatic foul.
  • To the Mavs’ credit, one of their greater defensive successes for the evening was limiting Golden State’s explosive scoring potential. Basketball is a game of runs and all that, but the most notable spurt in the Warriors’ favor was an 11-2 burst toward the beginning of the second half. That’s a victory to take on a purely independent basis; the overall defensive execution was marvelous, but to quash every run is pretty spectacular on its own merit.
  • The Warriors may have been a great landing spot for Al Thornton (eight points, 2-7 FG, four rebounds, two turnovers) in terms of a team that’s able to artificially inflate his stats despite limited minutes, but I’m not sure a style that facilitates his ability to take quick, poorly chosen shots is the best thing for his development as a player. Horrible shot selection was already among Thornton’s vices, and life as a Warrior certainly hasn’t done much to change him.
  • A few weeks into his Maverick career, I still don’t see Corey Brewer’s incredible defensive ability. He’s certainly effective on that end, but I see nothing to demand time on the floor, particularly when he’s — as Corey Brewer is ought to do — airballing three-point attempts from the corner.

Officially Unofficial

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 28, 2010 under News | 5 Comments to Read

Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Marc Spears have unearthed the All-Star reserves, with a few surprises.

Dirk Nowitzki’s exclusion was not one of them. His selection was never even debatable. But the Western Conference reserves will be Chris Paul, Brandon Roy, Nowitzki, Kevin Durant, Pau Gasol, Deron Williams, and and Zach Randolph. Great picks all the way down the line, and particular kudos to the coaches for picking this crop over Denver’s Chauncey Billups. Billups is a fine player, but this just isn’t his year. Plus, I think there’s a very legitimate argument to be made for Tyreke Evans over Chauncey, anyway…but we’ll save that for another day.

In the East, the reserves will be Rajon Rondo, Joe Johnson, Chris Bosh, Gerald Wallace, Al Horford, Paul Pierce, and Derrick Rose. In related news, it really, really sucks to be David Lee right now. He’s doing just about everything humanly possible (ahem, offensively), and still can’t catch a break. Pierce is having an off-year, but his selection was more or less assumed. I just wish we could see Lee and Josh Smith in the game, but no such luck.

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Draft Ranges

Posted by Rob Mahoney on May 30, 2009 under xOther | 5 Comments to Read

The Mavs don’t have a very good track record when it comes to finding value late in the draft, though selecting Josh Howard with the final pick in the first round back in 2003.  But the stakes have never been higher, with the Mavs’ few young assets weighing their options in free agency and the Mavs’ 2010 pick in the hands of the New Jersey Nets.  This one counts big time, and it’s up to the management and the scouting team to find the diamond in the rough.

It’s tough, but hardly impossible.  Quality players pass right under the noses of many a team year after year, leaving latent value late in the draft.  The Mavs pick at 22, which is just a shade closer to the lottery than to the Mavs’ customary position at the draft’s tail.

Here are the picks at 22 this decade:

2008 – Courtney Lee
2007 – Jared Dudley
2006 – Marcus Williams
2005 – Jarrett Jack
2004 – Viktor Khryapa
2003 – Zoran Planinic
2002 – Casey Jacobsen
2001 – Jeryl Sasser
2000 – Donnell Harvey

Three of those players (Courtney Lee, Jared Dudley, Jarrett Jack) have shown rotation player chops.  Lee is the most notable as the starting 2 guard of an impressive Orlando team just one win away from the Finals.  In fact, if the Mavs could magically re-draft Lee this year, they’d be in pretty good shape.

Just for fun, here are picks in the late first round (20+) :

2008
Courtney Lee (22)
Nicolas Batum (25)

2007
Wilson Chandler (23)
Rudy Fernandez (24)
Aaron Brooks (26)

2006
Renaldo Balkman (20)
Rajon Rondo (21)
Kyle Lowry (23)
Shannon Brown (25)
Jordan Farmar (26)

2005
Jarrett Jack (20)
Nate Robinson (21)
Francisco Garcia (23)
Jason Maxiell (26)
Linas Kleiza (27)
David Lee (30)

2004
Jameer Nelson (20)
Delonte West (24)
Kevin Martin (26)

2003
Boris Diaw (21)
Travis Outlaw (23)
Kendrick Perkins (27)
Leandro Barbosa (28)
Josh Howard (29)

2002
Tayshaun Prince (23)
Nenad Krstic (24)
John Salmons (26)

2001
Brendan Haywood (20)
Gerald Wallace (25)
Jamaal Tinsley (27)
Tony Parker (28)

2000
Morris Peterson (21)

It’s certainly worth noting that even the 2005 draft, predicted to be a weak draft class among pundits and largely looked at as a failure in comparison to its contemporaries, still produced productive players late in the first round.  Blake Griffin is no Tim Duncan and the consolation prizes may have their flaws, but that doesn’t mean true commodities can’t be found late in the first.

Next week I’ll start examining potential picks for the Mavs, starting with those rumored and confirmed to have scheduled workouts with the team.  Some of those players seem poised for success on the pro level, and others may not even be top competitors in the D-League.  As fans, we can only hope that MGMT not only makes the right decision in assessing the talent of a potential pick, but also in picking talented players to fill holes in the Mavs’ rotation.