California Dreaming

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on May 31, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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ESPN’s Chris Broussard reported late Thursday evening that Chris Paul is ‘angry’ for being cast as the villain in the firing of Vinny Del Negro as coach.

How much of an impact this will have on Paul’s decision to re-sign with the Clippers as a free agent is not clear, but the source conceded that Paul’s anger could lead him to look elsewhere.

“He’s angry right now and his anger is directed toward the Clippers organization,” the source said. “Chris is a man of principle and if he feels like you’ve gone against his principles, it will affect how he feels about you. He’s very agitated that his name has been put out there as the reason for Vinny’s firing. He had nothing to do with it.”

- ESPN

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Radio Gold

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on May 29, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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After making an appearance on KESN-FM over the weekend, Mavs owner Mark Cuban once again took to the airwaves as he appeared on KRLD-FM on Tuesday afternoon. If you missed his initial appearance over the week, you can listen to it here. In his latest radio appearance (which can be heard here), Cuban further explained the team’s two-year plan, more of a behind-the-curtain look at their sales pitch to prospective free agents, what the heck is going to happen to Roddy Beaubois, and how this summer is different than last summer.

There was plenty of gold in Cuban’s comments. When there’s plenty of gold, there is only one way to tackle it.

Here is the quoteboard for Cuban’s appearance on the Ben and Skin show.

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Risk Aversion

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on May 28, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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A safe way to go through life is avoiding risks. You can’t lose when you don’t take a chance. But you can’t win much either.

That’s a way of life that many people go through as some can’t take losing or the realities of losing. Many fans were heartbroken last summer after going through the drama with Deron Williams only to find out that he was going to stay with the Brooklyn Nets, spurning the Mavs and the opportunity to play with Dirk Nowitzki. A new year of free agency is upon us and the Mavs will once again try to swing for the fences as they pursue Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.

Many fans start wincing at the idea of the Mavs trying to pursue these big fish, remembering the feelings they endured through the entire process last year. (First off, you probably should avoid getting on the roller coaster in the first place.)

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Picture This

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on May 23, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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Information is power. Getting seduced by information is dangerous. There is the clichéd saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, there were three photos that popped up last week that are very relevant in the Mavs’ universe. They provide information, two more interesting than the other.

The first one came on Friday morning as owner Mark Cuban reinforced his point to the fans that he is committed to making this past season as an aberration as opposed to the new norm.

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The Zach Attack, Part Two

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 26, 2013 under Commentary, Interviews | 2 Comments to Read

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In Part One of my conversation with Grantland’s Zach Lowe, we discussed the recent disappearing act of Dirk Nowitzki’s shot attempts, Rick Carlisle’s coaching and the whacky twists and turns the point guard position has created for the team this season.

Part Two really digs into the meat and potatoes for the Mavericks. This summer will once again present a crossroads of sorts for Dallas. There’s also a decision the Mavericks made after winning their championship in 2011 that will likely hover around the franchise for quite some time. Lowe discusses the hindsight look at that as well as looking at the legacy Dirk Nowitzki will imprint on the league.

Let’s dig in. Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 96, Brooklyn Nets 113

Posted by Kirk Henderson on March 20, 2013 under Recaps | 4 Comments to Read

CautionNet

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.

  • Dirk Nowitzki (16 points on 8 of 10 shooting) has 10.3 shot attempts over his last three games. He’s shooting 23 for 31 over that period. Dallas is 1-2 in those games. What else is there to say?
  • Dallas fans and Mark Cuban got a great view of the player they missed out on signing this off-season in Deron Williams (31 points, six assists). After a 2 for 7 first half, he responded shooting 11 of 18 in the second, lighting any Dallas guard on fire who came near him. He’s been slowed by a combination of ankle injuries, weight gain, and hubris, but since getting his mind and body right over the All-Star Break, he’s looked exactly like a player worth a $100 million dollar contract. Dallas missed out in a huge way by being unable to sign the former Colony High School player.
  • After outscoring the Nets by 10 in the first quarter, Brooklyn out-scored Dallas by 27 points over the next 36 minutes of basketball.
  • I lied. We need to talk about Dirk not getting the ball more. That his first shot didn’t come until the 6:35 mark in the first quarter is one thing, as the Mavericks actually played really solid offensive basketball. But when Dirk didn’t even touch the ball in the third quarter as Deron Williams and Brook Lopez shot 11 for 12 for 26 points in the quarter, alarms have to go off on the Dallas bench.
  • In the 16 games since the All Star break, Dirk Nowitzki is shooting 51% from the field, 49% from 3 point range, and 96% from the line.
  • On the one hand, it’s nice that Rick Carlisle has faith in his team to run his system over set plays. The offense is essentially a read and react system based out of pick and rolls. On the other hand, why Carlisle would allow Chris Kaman and Mike James to get into a pick and roll duel with Brook Lopez and Deron Williams at the start of both halves is beyond understanding. Neither player is efficient and neither player is going to be a Dallas Maverick next year.
  • Brook Lopez seems to relish playing the Dallas Mavericks. His offensive display was amazing, scoring 38 points on 22 shots and doing so in a variety of ways. He opened the game running a series of strong pick and rolls. He built on that by punishing Chris Kaman with some back down post moves. Lopez then went to a bit of a dribble drive game, taking full advantage of any Dallas defender, using both hands to get to the rim.
  • It’s frustrating that Elton Brand (four points, five rebounds) is playing his most ineffective basketball in months over the last six games, right as Dallas needs him to be his best. Brand has been a phenomenal addition to Dallas this year and I hope the front office finds a way to keep him beyond this one season.
  • Brook Lopez and Reggie Evans combined for 33 rebounds. The Dallas Maverick team pulled down 34.
  • This was the first game in some time where Dallas fans witnessed the limitations of Brandan Wright (nine points, on 4 of 5 shooting). Wright actually had a fairly nice stat line, given his limited playing time. But the Nets took full advantage of Wright’s slight frame, punishing him in one on one defense and on rebounding opportunities. Wright has improved dramatically over the last third of the season, particularly in help defense and rebounding, but occasionally teams with strong post players will take advantage of the fact that he weighs 210 pounds soaking wet.
  • With Jae Crowder hitting yet another corner three against the Nets, this shot is a potential weapon for the Mavericks moving forward. Though the sample size is a bit small, Crowder has hit 50 percent of his corner threes this season, as opposed to a mere 28% anywhere above the break. Crowder had a reputation of being a stretch four in college, but the distance of the NBA three has proven a bit too much for him this season. Interestingly, all of his corner threes this season have been assisted.
  • TMG’s own Bryan Gutierrez tweets that Carlisle doesn’t buy into the notion of Dirk not getting shots being an issue during these two recent losses. However, ESPN’s Marc Stein tweeted during the game that tonight he saw a top 5 on court anger moment from Dirk as he came to the bench during the fourth quarter. Something has to give.
  • There was an odd appearance in the first quarter of the rare 5-4 pick and roll. Kaman caught the ball on the right elbow and Dirk decided to set a screen for him in the middle of the free throw line. Dirk slipped the pick and Kaman fed him for a lay up, which Dirk missed, only to grab his own rebound and score.
  • Some rare playing time for Anthony Morrow (six points on 3 of 6 shooting). Looking oddly like the ghost of Jason Terry, Morrow played well on offense, hitting two tough shots and stealing an inbound pass for a third quarter ending lay up. Defensively, he seemed lost, as Joe Johnson got warmed up in the second with Morrow attempting to stick with him.
  • The shooting of Mike James by the quarter: 2 of 5, 0 of 1, 1 of 4, and 1 of 5 for a total of 4 of 14 for the game. He hits one shot and it seems to give him the confidence to keep shooting. When these shots come within the flow of the offense, as his fourth quarter corner three did, it boosts the Dallas offense, almost serving as a bonus. But when he hunts for his own shot, as he did through out the game, it actively hurts the Dallas offense.
  • Matt Moore of CBS Sports writes an interesting look into the death of the post entry pass as a NBA player skill. Given the Dallas woes to consistently get the ball to Dirk, it feels very timely.
  • After a strong 23 point win against the Timberwolves on March 10th, the Mavericks have gone 3-3 over their next six. With only 14 games remaining, the Mavs are now 3.5 games back from the eighth seed. However, they’re also too far ahead in the total league standing to benefit any from losing games for draft lotto positioning. Dallas currently stands in no man’s land.

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 74, Toronto Raptors 95

Posted by Connor Huchton on December 15, 2012 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

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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. 

  • Losing to the lowly Raptors has a way of plummeting expectations. But this loss shouldn’t be shocking, given that this Mavericks’ team is currently average at best.
  • The first sign that this game was headed for an underwhelming finish came with O.J. Mayo’s (2-8 FG, 10 points, six turnovers) struggles. Quite simply, the Mavericks don’t win when Mayo isn’t playing well.
  • Even so, no respectable team should score a mere 74 points in an NBA game. But when the Mavericks’ second best scoring option, Chris Kaman (7-18 FG, 15 points, five rebounds), began forcing looks in an attempt to jump start the team’s offense, things quickly took a turn for the worse.
  • Kaman can’t be blamed for an occasionally inefficient scoring night. What he can be blamed for is a continuing inability to rebound well.
  • He’s currently sporting the worst rebounding rate of his career, to give that thought some context. 
  • One player who absolutely did not struggle to score was Brandan Wright (6-6 FG, 13 points). Wright scored in droves without missing a shot over the course of an all-too-short 14 minutes.
  • It’s worth wondering why Wright only played 14 minutes on a night when the Mavericks could not have needed his scoring more badly. Wright’s defensive struggles are well documented (and he recorded zero rebounds tonight), but they aren’t significant enough to preclude his presence during games when efficient scoring is at a premium.
  • Other than Wright, the Mavericks bench performed dismally in this game, combining for only 27 points.
  • Linas Kleiza (20 points, 7-13 FG, 5-11 3PT), with his semi-formidable combination of strength and three-point shooting skill, is the type of player who can achieve scoring bursts against teams without a true defensive center.
  • The Mavericks are one of those teams.
  • Though defensively impressive in past seasons, the Mavericks are now ranked a mediocre 17th in defensive efficiency.
  • For a team that currently has only two capable high-volume scorers, the resulting need to score at a high rate creates an increasingly frequent problem and often leads to losses.
  • Things aren’t about to get better: the Mavericks opponents to this point have a 162-199 record.
  • In the next 6 games, opponents have a record of 88-42.
  • Let’s take a moment to admire the resiliency and constancy of Shawn Marion (12 points, 13 rebounds, 4-7 FG), who is competent or better in the majority of games and almost always able to make some form of impact.
  • The only other Mavericks’ player (not named Dirk) you could say that for is O.J. Mayo, and his game is nowhere near as wide-reaching as Marion’s.
  • Though this is a bit of a tangent, it is now my tenuous belief that the Mavericks should have re-signed Tyson Chandler in the summer of 2011.
  • It’s easy to spout that belief in hindsight of the Mavericks’ free agent failures, but the question of whether Deron Williams or Tyson Chandler is a more valuable player lurks in my mind, especially in a Mavericks’ system that thrives with an elite defensive center. Chandler has improved the Knicks’ defense in great increments over the last two seasons, while Williams has often struggled to perform at an elite level with the Nets and has had particular difficulties on the defensive end.
  • And that idea comes with the following facts, courtesy of Jared Dubin. Those considerations make one wonder whether the choice would have been preferential even had the Mavericks managed to sign Williams.
  • Of course, that opinion comes with the caveat of knowing Chandler playing at this level wasn’t a certainty at the time of his departure, after a small sample size of success.
  • (If Chris Paul or Dwight Howard somehow signs with the Mavericks this summer, I rescind this tangent.)

Snake Eyes

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 3, 2012 under Commentary | 19 Comments to Read

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Successful navigation of free agency typically requires foresight, planning, and creative financing, but ultimately falls to the mercy of chance. All of the managerial savvy in the world can only make a compelling case, and in the process leave the fate of a franchise in the hands of an individual with many, complicated interests.

So it was with the Mavs’ failed pursuit of Deron Williams, which officially came to an end with Williams’ announcement of his intention to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets. Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban avoided long-term investments and wiggled their way into the cap room necessary to lure the DFW native, but the payoff for their efforts was always a gamble at best, and it’s not exactly surprising that their little wager against the incumbent Nets didn’t pay off. That said, the outcome also doesn’t make the decision to break up a championship core any less correct than it was a year ago; tough as it was for the champs to forego their title defense before the season even began, Williams and Dwight Howard were prizes worth chasing, particularly in the face of otherwise over-investing in a fading core.

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Take Aim

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 29, 2012 under Commentary, Roster Moves | 6 Comments to Read

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After a quick shuffle of third parties, the Mavs again appear ready to jettison Lamar Odom’s contract westward (and in a way, homeward); as originally reported by Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News – and later clarified by Brad Turner of the LA Times – Dallas will deal Odom in a four-team trade that will also move Mo Williams to Utah and the draft rights to Furkan Aldemir to Houston, while scoring the Mavs a trade exception, cash, and an additional $2.4 million (the price of an Odom buyout) in sweet, sweet salary cap savings.

That brings the total savings of the past 24 hours to (roughly) a cool $3.8 million, between ditching Odom, trading Kelenna Azubuike, and saving on the rookie scale difference between the 17th pick and the 24th pick. There’s no need to hash out the specifics of the Mavs’ cap number until we get a better idea of what might become of Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, and a slew of minimum salary players that currently have cap holds against Dallas’ total, but we have the pleasure of watching first-hand as Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban take their quarters to the free-agent slot machine.

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The Difference: New Jersey Nets 93, Dallas Mavericks 92

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 29, 2012 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot Chart — Game Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas97.094.940.431.529.311.4
New Jersey95.948.216.727.317.4

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

  • It almost seems unfair to distill a loss like this down to a simple explanation, but bare with me: The Mavs played poorly, and the Nets played less poorly. There was no collapse; Dallas’ execution was a bit spotty, and the offensive sequences that did go as planned too often ended with a botched open look. Brendan Haywood played decent but flawed defense, as he too frequently surrendered deep post position or a baseline lane to a focused Brook Lopez. Dirk Nowitzki was efficient, but not dominant. Jason Kidd generally did not play well. The Mavs made big plays to put themselves in a position to win, but stellar defense by Kris Humphries and DeShawn Stevenson prevented Dallas from making the biggest one. Vince Carter was a complete non-factor, and with Delonte West and Lamar Odom already out of the lineup, that absent production was killer. Neither Jason Terry nor Rodrigue Beaubois could provide dependable, consistent offense, if only because the former missed open shots and the latter was a pinch too aggressive. The defense had occasional breakdowns, but for the most part was simply inept by half. All of these things happened, and none of it really matters. Every game matters in a sense, but the holistic outcome of this particular outing is simply nullified against the weight of the entire season. It’s a one-point loss against a crummy team, and a counter swing of the pendulum that typically brings the Mavs their greatest successes. It’s worth a moment’s consideration, surely, but this isn’t at all a game — nor a result — worth dwelling on. (That said, one specific factor is becoming an all too frequent issue. As Marion has been tasked with guarding the opponent’s best player virtually regardless of any positional considerations, his offensive efficiency has hit rock bottom. The man willingly admits that defending the likes of Deron Williams [and Chris Paul, and Ty Lawson, and Ricky Rubio, and...] takes a lot out of him, and yet Carlisle continues to look to Marion for defensive strength even as his offense takes a corresponding hit. Marion is a two-way player, but extending him so far in one direction necessarily pulls him away from the other.)