The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 99, Sacramento Kings 60

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 15, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot Chart GameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas95.0104.250.030.926.117.9
Sacramento63.226.720.925.417.9

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

  • Back-to-back games against the struggling Milwaukee Bucks and the perpetually befuddled Sacramento Kings weren’t going to test the Mavs’ competitive fiber, but they did end testing the Mavs’ limits. In two straight games, we got to see exactly what kind of dominance this Mavericks team is capable of, and though the level of competition gives these two huge wins a certain disclaimer, demolishing lesser teams does have a decent correlation with long-term success. More importantly: after being on the receiving end of a couple of routs to begin the season, Dallas is finally making legitimate strides in their efforts to create balance.
  • It’s fantastic and reassuring and all kinds of confusing that the Mavs are able to be this good with Dirk Nowitzki averaging just 12.5 points in the last two games. Some of that is a function of playing time (particularly because of the Mavs’ tendency to work through Nowitzki late in close games), but the marginal nature of Nowitzki’s involvement has been apparent irrelevant of his production. Dirk’s still doing work, he’s just doing substantially less than he did at any point last season.
  • Congratulations to the Kings, who now have the honor of posting the lowest point total for any Maverick opponent in a half, the lowest point total in a half in Kings franchise history, the lowest point total for a Maverick opponent in a game, the fewest field goals made by a Maverick opponent, the lowest single-game field goal percentage in Kings franchise history, and the lowest single-game field goal percentage mark for any Maverick opponent overall. Gold stars all around.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 102, Milwaukee Bucks 76

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 14, 2012 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

[Game-specific advanced stats forthcoming.]

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

  • Even a thorough scrubbing of the Mavs’ Friday night game against the Milwaukee Bucks would reveal few — if any — notable flaws. Dallas started fast, repeled Milwaukee’s advances, and finished strong. They played a dominant game on both ends of the court, and rested weary legs in anticipation of Saturday’s date with the Sacramento Kings. They left absolutely no doubt of the game’s verdict, a welcome occurrence in a season where doubt has become a recurring theme.
  • Vince Carter had his highest-scoring game in a Maverick uniform by way of a remarkably aggressive first-quarter performance. He had two nice dunks — both in the half-court offense, mind you — in the first five minutes of the game.¬†Carter has brought an assertive scoring approach to each of his games as a Mav, but this quick start was notable if only because his performance was so efficient and so emphatic.
  • The first of those dunks:

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 100, Detroit Pistons 86

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 11, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas90.0111.158.029.017.215.6
Detroit95.647.829.013.922.2

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

  • Don’t look now, but Mavericks basketball is fun again. Delonte West turned his second game filling in for Jason Kidd into something special, as from the very beginning he was creating some truly spectacular shots off the dribble. West found Brendan Haywood in the right spots, turning the typically clumsy center into an occasional weapon. He created situations that put so much pressure on Detroit’s defense that Dirk Nowitzki was left wide open on the weak side. He worked the ball around, made a living off of his silky handle, and picked up six steals to just five points to make his Kidd imitation complete. It’s been a true pleasure to see West go to work for the Mavs this season, and this seems like a good a time as any to remind you that this guy is playing for the league’s minimum salary. I’m still not quite sure how that happened, but hot damn did Dallas get one of the steals of free agency.
  • Preface: garbage time, Detroit Pistons, etc. But Brandan Wright…wowza:

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 96, New Orleans Hornets 81

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 8, 2012 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas90.0106.748.632.415.415.6
New Orleans90.045.335.917.122.2

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

  • A win is a win is a win, but this one was hardly glamorous or constructive. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the Mavs getting another game under their collective belt, but we don’t know anything more about Dallas than we did 24 hours ago, and I’m not sure the Mavs know anything more about themselves, either. Here’s three cheers for conditioning and repetitions, but this was a pretty cosmetic win.
  • Ian Mahinmi (13 points, 5-6 FG, seven rebounds, two steals) is making it far too easy for Carlisle to leave Brendan Haywood (two points, six rebounds, one steal) on the bench. Defensively, Mahinmi has been solid, though admittedly imperfect. On offense, he’s done a tremendous job of finding spots on the floor with both open passing lanes and easy scoring opportunities. I don’t think we’re at all near a point where Mahinmi would supplant Haywood as a starter (such a move would be ill-advised for motivational reasons alone), but the games in which Mahinmi logs more playing time than his counterpart are becoming more and more common — and rightfully so.
  • As terrific as Delonte West (12 points on six shots, four assists) has played to start the season, I was still a bit surprised that Rick Carlisle opted to start the game with him as the nominal point guard in Jason Kidd’s absence. It was a good call, mind you — and the right call, if such a thing exists in this case — but still one I didn’t expect him to make this early in the season. West and Vince Carter (who started at the 2) both responded well as starters, and Jason Terry (12 points, 5-9 FG, 2-3 3FG, four assists), and Rodrigue Beaubois (11 points, 4-10 FG, two assists, two steals, two turnovers) contributed nicely off the bench.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 100, Oklahoma City Thunder 87

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

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas87.0114.951.921.327.513.8
Oklahoma City100.043.526.028.614.9

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 was a prime demonstration of Vince Carter (14 points on nine shots, three assists) as a post-up option. It’s not about the buckets scored, but the opportunities created; Dallas ran their offense through Carter on the block in the second and third quarters, and VC was able to respond by drawing fouls, getting to the rim, and attracting plenty of defensive attention. Carter was such a convincing post threat that the Thunder left Dirk Nowitzki wide open in the opposite corner in order to blitz him down low. That kind of rotation barely seems possible, but mismatches like the ones Carter was able to create often force opponents into drastic measures.
  • Nowitzki (26 points, 10-16 FG, 1-5 3FG, six rebounds) may not have matched last year’s playoff performance in magnitude, but Monday night was a return to normalcy. The last time these teams met, Dirk looked rushed and uncomfortable. He hesitated before shooting open jumpers, and didn’t put much effort into establishing position at “his spots” on the floor. This performance was “vintage” Nowitzki, if they do indeed make months-old vintages. His footwork, ball fakes, and spins were all in playoff form, and though Dallas didn’t lean on Nowitzki’s offense as heavily as they did in the postseason, he was every bit as efficient as the Mavs could have expected him to be. I hope you enjoyed the first of what will undoubtedly be many brilliant showings for Nowitzki this season.

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The Difference: Minnesota Timberwolves 99, Dallas Mavericks 82

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 1, 2012 under Recaps | 4 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot Chart — GameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas94.087.242.222.114.018.1
Minnesota105.348.220.037.017.0

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 is just the way of the season’s early going, apparently. The Mavericks more closely resemble themselves for a few games, but then dissolve completely on offense against a pretty poor defense just a few days later. We knew to expect struggles. We knew it would take time for the new Mavs to work their way into the system, and time for the old Mavs to work their way into game shape. But now we also know to expect complete inconsistency, as there are no assurances at all of which Maverick team will show up on a particular night. In this one? A team that scores 87.2 points per 100 possessions, and will wither away even against the most questionable defenses.
  • Dallas managed a brief return to normalcy with a fourth quarter combination of the zone defense and Dirk Nowitzki (21 points, 9-20 FG, four rebounds) attacking from all angles, but a timeout gave Rick Adelman a precious opportunity to calm down a jumpy young team. Ricky Rubio (14 points, 2-3 3FG, seven assists, four turnovers) drew the attention of defenders and hit spot-up shooters in the corners and bigs rolling to the rim, attacking the Mavs’ zone at two particular points of weakness. Kevin Love (25 points, 9-16 FG, 5-8 3FG, 17 rebounds) took over from there, and the Wolves finished the game on an uncontested 15-point spurt that left several minutes on the clock but no doubt in the game’s result. This year’s Timberwolves are every bit as entertaining as the manic team that ran up and down the court last season, but this year they’ve traded the unintentional comedy of a Michael Beasley-driven offense for a more sensible, balanced attack driven by pace and Rubio’s guile. It may not result in a playoff berth, but Minnesota is more than capable of “stealing” a game like this one against a supposedly superior team.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 99, Toronto Raptors 86

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 30, 2011 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas90.0110.049.338.917.511.1
Toronto95.650.019.413.218.9

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

  • I won’t fully subscribe to the hyperbole and say that Ian Mahinmi (19 points, 6-6 FG, five rebounds, two blocks) was the best Maverick on the floor on Friday, but he was likely the most active and — at the very least — the most surprisingly effective. Mahinmi did some solid work on the defensive glass, but he impressed most in his cuts to the rim off of pick-and-roll sequences and as a weak side counter to double teams in the post. It was a blast to see Mahinmi provide a legitimate offensive impact, but let’s not go overboard: Mahinmi was only so effective because of the Raptors’ inability to cover for their own defensive overloading.
  • The Mavs managed an efficient offense without offensive flow, effective shooting, or superior ball control. Offensive rebounding was the crutch early (Dallas grabbed an offensive board on 45.5 percent of their misses in the first quarter), and frequent free throw shooting carried them throughout. The shooting finally came around, but only after the Mavericks amassed 37 free-throw attempts in a 90-possession game.
  • Andrea Bargnani (30 points, 11-18 FG, seven rebounds) didn’t look new and improved — he just looked improved. Subtle changes in approach translated into a highly productive and efficient outing for Bargs, as virtually all of the Mavs’ big men struggled to defend him on the perimeter. His pick-and-pop game with Jose Calderon was deadly; Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd both managed to look a step slow in their efforts to defend it, resulting in a disappointing number of wide-open jumpers. Bargnani capitalized, and used his pick-and-roll success as a launchpad for a terrific all-around shooting performance.

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The Difference: Oklahoma City Thunder 104, Dallas Mavericks 102

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Recaps | 7 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas95.0107.447.218.930.412.6
Oklahoma City109.563.538.120.027.4

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

  • Moral victories may be the panacea of foolish NBA fans, but I have a very hard time classifying this absurd 48 minutes of Mavericks basketball as anything but. Just days removed from getting trounced by the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets in back-to-back home games, the Mavs were right back where they were last May: fighting down to the wire with an impressive Oklahoma City Thunder team, scraping together runs for a chance to take the game.
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The Difference: Denver Nuggets 115, Dallas Mavericks 93

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 27, 2011 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

Screen shot 2011-12-26 at 11.58.30 PM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas98.094.947.427.611.919.4
Denver117.355.734.223.815.3

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

  • Give the Mavericks credit: they didn’t lose this game solely on offense or defense alone, but managed to clam up and crumble simultaneously. They turned the ball over on nearly a fifth of their possessions. They started with a well-intentioned transition defense, but spend most of the game lightly jogging in the Nuggets’ dust. They allowed 117.3 points per 100 possessions. These first two games have been ugly in a way this franchise hasn’t seen in a long time, and hopefully those universal struggles don’t persist for too long.
  • Delonte West (two points, four assists, three steals) grabbed his first formal start after becoming the de facto starter for the second half of the opener against the Heat. In theory, it was a good move; West is the hands-down best defensive option the Mavs have against Ty Lawson (27 points, 10-15 FG, 3-6 3FG, four rebounds, four assists, three steals). That theoretical decision didn’t do much good against the Nuggets’ outright fast breaks and transition-induced mismatches, but West was still the right call for starting responsibilities.
  • Turnovers aside, the Mavs actually looked much improved offensively in the game’s opening quarter. There were some productive sets, and various players worked well together in strong-side action. It wasn’t anything resembling the offensive sophistication that earned Dallas their first title, but in such dire times, Mavs fans should take what they can get.

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The Official The Two Man Game Official Dallas Mavericks Official Season Preview for the Official 2011-2012 NBA Season

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 23, 2011 under Commentary, Previews | 3 Comments to Read

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The excruciating introduction to the regular season is finally over: the defending NBA champs are set to take the court again in short order, both for their own benefit and our considerable entertainment. If nothing else, this year promises all kinds of intrigue; the Mavs have lost some notable players, but in their place have added a star, some capable veterans, and a few interesting projects. Donnie Nelson has infused his team with youth and flexibility while maintaining a promising financial outlook, and though Rick Carlisle will have a seemingly infinite number of possibilities and lineups to sort through and fully comprehend, we have the pleasure of watching an expert chemist at work.

The Mavs a truly bizarre roster, but if anyone can optimize the rotation, it’s Carlisle. We may not know exactly what Rick has in mind in terms of terms of minutes distribution or even the starting lineup, but he’ll tinker throughout the season and adjust according to fit and performance. Then, the playoffs will come and he’ll continue to tweak and alter the rotation as he sees fit. There will never be a depth chart with fully dried ink, but the regular season should give us all a fairly good idea of the roles in which Carlisle prefers to see certain players, and the frequency with which certain lineups. It’s all fluid, but the freedom of matchup movement is the very mechanism that has elevated Carlisle close to the top of his profession. He finds and exploits mismatches, and this roster may give him more mismatch potential than any he’s ever coached.

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