Third Round of Bloom and Doom

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on February 18, 2013 under Commentary | Read the First Comment


It’s time for another round of Bloom and Doom. For those that missed the first batch of it in December, here you go. January’s batch can be seen here.

In an effort to keep the discussion going, I sought out’s Tim MacMahon for his opinion on pressing issues for the Dallas Mavericks. You can view MacMahon’s coverage of the Mavericks at You can also follow him on Twitter @espn_macmahon. Periodically, we are going to touch base and discuss topics with our own unique point of view.

MacMahon likes to call it like he sees it. That perspective can hover on the other end of the spectrum from my optimistic viewpoint on things. You could say it’s a classic case of good cop, bad cop. Our different perspectives should make for an interesting conversation on hot topics revolving around the Mavs. This round of bloom and doom really hits the crux of it all with the team. Everything is right in MacMahon’s wheelhouse, and the second-to-last question might be the hardest one I’ve had to answer.

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Posted by Ian Levy on under Commentary, Roster Moves | Read the First Comment

A Pocket Full of Change

On Friday, at Hickory-High, Ming Wang put together a really interesting piece sharing an interesting new strategy for examining the tradeoff between production and cost for the contracts of NBA players. Here’s the rationale and method in his own words:

A few weeks ago, Kevin Pelton of ESPN looked at the best contracts in the NBA by multiplying a player’s WARP (wins above replacement level) by the average amount that teams pay for each WARP. I’d like to approach this same problem from a different angle: namely, how much value are teams getting out of the salaries they pay their players? Instead of looking at WARP, I’ll focus on win shares, another metric of player value. While Pelton’s methodology assumes that the overall NBA salary market is priced correctly (therefore attaching a value to each WARP a team pays for), my method makes no assumptions about overall pricing accuracy and instead seeks to evaluate relative player salary and performance.

At a basic level, my goal is to quantitatively evaluate the best and worst contracts in the NBA. To do so, I construct a simple metric that I call the “value ratio.” This is defined as: (Player Salary/Median Salary)/(Player Win Share/Median Win Share). In effect, I am comparing the amount over (or under) which a player is being paid vs. the median NBA player with that player’s production over (or under) that of a median player. Comparing salaries and win shares with median values serves as a way of normalizing these metrics and making them more readily comparable to each other. A simple way to think about this metric is the following: if the ratio is less than 1, the player is undervalued; if the ratio is greater than one, the player is overvalued; if the ratio equals one, the player is properly valued. In short, the most valuable players will be those with the smallest value ratios.

To get a more full picture of player production, Wang used a three-year average of a player’s Win Shares. To compensate for the fact that salary is not consistent in every year of a contract he averaged the per year salary commitments of this year and each remaining year on a player’s contract. There are several holes in his method, which he acknowledges at the end of his post, but if you know the context for specific players and specific teams, the stories told by his numbers become much richer.

Several Mavericks showed up in different places in Wang’s results. With a value ratio of 0.131, Elton Brand’s contract provided the 7th greatest value of any player who has played at least 500 minutes this season. At a value ratio of 0.259, Darren Collison’s contract provided the 10th most value of any player who had played at least 1,150 minutes this season. Driven by curiosity, I pulled together his results for all of the Mavericks to see how the team’s current crop of contracts rated in value.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 123, Sacramento Kings 100

Posted by Connor Huchton on February 14, 2013 under Recaps | Read the First Comment


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.

  • “Where would the Mavericks be without Vince Carter?” is not a question I thought I’d be asking myself in February, but here we are.
  • Carter (9-15 FG, 6-9 3PT, 26 points, five rebounds) carried the day (or night) for the Mavericks by knocking down five three-pointers in the third quarter against an ever-floundering Kings’ defense.
  • Carter is now bordering on 40% for the season from three, which places him just behind O.J. Mayo (3-11 FG, 0-7 3PT, 10 points, three steals, three turnovers) on the Mavericks’ three-point shooting ladder.
  • On nights when Mayo’s jumper isn’t falling, having Carter as an outside threat is vital to the offensive effectiveness of Dallas.
  • Not many people liken the basketball style and production of Vince Carter to that of Larry Bird, but Carter has now scored more points than the famed Celtic.
  • (Tonight, he passed Bird for 29th on the all-time scoring list.)
  • Two other players carried the weight for Dallas: Darren Collison (7-12 FG, 18 points, nine assists) and Dirk Nowitzki (6-9 FG, 17 points, eight rebounds, six assists, three steals).
  • Collison looked sharp in transition play and did a good job of finding Carter open on the wing in the second half.
  • He also made four of five attempts at the basket, reinforcing the idea that if Collison is going to succeed in the Mavericks’ system, it will be by exploiting spacing advantages (often via Dirk) to the tune of reaching the rim and finishing artfully.
  • Tonight, he did that, and the rest of his game followed suit.
  • As for Dirk, this game provided great encouragement.
  • This was the second consecutive game where Dirk looked much like his old (or in this case, younger) self.
  • He spaced the floor well, made open jumpers, and took long strides to the rim when overplayed by a defender.
  • Those are the Dirk tenets to success, and their implementation resulted in both scoring and passing improvements.
  • Dirk’s passing has become more important to his game with age, and when he’s scoring at will in conjunction with those passes, his ability to assist evolves into a more potent threat.
  • I’ve also been very pleased with how Bernard James (2-3 FG, five points, six rebounds, 16 minutes) has played in his recent starts.
  • He’s paired quite well with Dirk on both ends, taken shots only when needed, and rebounded with decent aplomb.
  • He still struggles with foul trouble a little too easily (he recorded four fouls tonight), but the rest of his skills progress nicely with each game.
  • Comparing how the Mavericks and Kings controlled the ball tells the story of the game fairly well: 27 assists and 12 turnovers for the Mavericks; 17 assists and 18 turnovers for the Kings.
  • Jae Crowder’s (4-7 FG, 3-6 3PT, 11 points) solid play in a fairly brief 16-minute stint served as a pleasant surprise.
  • Crowder’s minutes have dwindled in quantity and consistency during recent weeks, so it’s nice to see him seize an opportunity like this.
  • Every time I watch the Kings, most of the team appears all-too-passive when it comes to guarding the perimeter. That passivity seems like a fixable problem, but it could be the product of an overarching personnel issue (only James Johnson strikes me as an above-average perimeter defender, and he spends much of his time guarding power forwards).
  • With the All-Star Break upon us, it’s a good time to look forward. The Mavericks will likely have to win about 20 of their remaining 30 games to compete for a playoff spot. I’m hopeful that the 8th seed is still possible, but the Mavericks will need to become a far better road team than they have been thus far this season (15-10 at home, 8-19 away) to achieve such a chance.

Rarefied Air

Posted by Brian Rubaie on February 13, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment


In a season rife with inconsistency, disappointment has been the lone constant for the 2012-2013 Dallas Mavericks.  Dallas is experiencing its least successful season of 21st century. The losses have taken a frustrating toll on devoted fans, players and coaches alike.

No one seems more bothered by the team’s performance than Rick Carlisle, who rarely allows himself the pleasure of celebrating or accepting credit for victories but often makes it a point to take personal responsibility when losses mount. The accountability Carlisle displays speaks well to his character but is also misleading. As much as Dallas has struggled, Carlisle has masterfully captained a ship that could’ve easily sunk long ago.

That point was strongly reinforced in Carlisle’s 500th victory one week ago against the Portland Trailblazers. The fans and players awarded Carlisle a standing ovation, an act which Carlisle predictably greeted with the same modesty he’s displayed throughout. Dubbed the “Baller of the Week” by our own Bryan Gutierrez in this week’s Rundown, Carlisle remarked that “It’s meaningful, but I’m not into those kinds of things. … One relief I have is I think after tomorrow I won’t have to hear about it again for a while, so that’s good.”

Carlisle doesn’t want the attention, but his achievement marks the season’s single most impressive feat in Dallas. With few other causes for celebration, win number 500 provides an appropriate moment for basketball fans to pause and appreciate this great coach’s work. One week later, the magnitude of the event, and the thought of all the work that it took to achieve it, is still a challenge to fully appreciate.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 105, Portland Trailblazers 99

Posted by Kirk Henderson on February 6, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to 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.

  • The Wednesday night victory over Portland was game one in a five game home stand for Dallas which stretches out until February 22nd. This home stand is really a last stand, of sorts, in terms of Dallas hoping to make the playoffs. Winning all five seems unreasonable, since a four game win streak is all Dallas has been able to muster to date, but four out of five would be steps in the right direction
  • We’ve not seen the O.J. Mayo-Dirk Nowitzki pick and roll as much as I would have hoped this season, but there were a number of instances of it tonight which bodes well for future games. The best example happened towards the end of the third quarter. Dirk and Mayo ran the pick and roll at the top of the key with Mayo driving right and using the Dirk screen. Due to Mayo’s 20 point first half the Blazers were concerned with him turning the corner and getting to the basket. Dirk saw that Mayo drew both defender’s attention and drifted to an open spot near the left elbow. Mayo saw an opening between the defenders and fired a quick pass to Dirk who nailed the ensuing jump shot. It was the sort of “pick your poison” option that used to happen between Dirk and Jason Terry.
  • Damian Lilliard started the game with 12 points in the first quarter yet finished the game with 19. I was unable to see the first half due to a League Pass snafu, so I’d be interested in hearing what, if anything Dallas did different defensively beyond the first quarter.
  • The difference in execution when Vince Carter (17 points, three assists) is in the line up is something to see. After the ugly Thunder game, the impact of Carter was felt throughout the game. His ability to shake off bad plays and make important ones was seen at the end of the third quarter. He somehow missed both free throw attempts, then forced a lay up, and then followed that up with a turnover when he made a sloppy pass to Dirk. Portland capitalized on these mistakes to go on a 10-0 run to go up by eight points. After a 5-0 run from Jae Crowder, Carter followed up nailing a huge three pointer at the end of the quarter to bring Dallas back within two.
  • Great to see Roddy Beaubois (nine points, two assists) get 25 minutes of game action. He’s the best option available for back up minutes. He might not run the offense with the urgency of Mike James, but he’s smooth when he’s playing under control and really gives Dallas a bit of an “x-factor” when he sees his shot start to fall. His three pointer to start the fourth fully shifted the momentum back to Dallas after a bit of a frustrating end to the third quarter.
  • Jae Crowder’s 5-0 run near the end of the third quarter was vital for the Mavericks heading into the final period. I still cringe at his shot selection, but the three he made to start the run was huge. His steal on the following Blazer possession was an instance of hustle and basketball awareness, two things he was said to bring to the table when he was drafted. When he plays within himself, he can be a very effective basketball player.

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


What’s Left?

Posted by Brian Rubaie on under Commentary | 5 Comments to Read


The 2012-2013 NBA season is barely past the halfway mark, but the campaign has felt much longer for Dallas Mavericks fans. Heartbreaking overtime losses, a carousel of starting lineups and a steady spate of sloppy play have made this team difficult for fans to attach themselves to. With little hope of reaching the playoffs and a roster of tourist free agents, Mavericks fans may soon decide the team as constructed simply isn’t worth watching the rest of the way.

That view was discussed in a brief Twitter exchange between two insightful analysts, our own Kirk Henderson (@KirkSeriousFace) and CBS Sports’ Zach Harper (@talkhoops). Henderson asked if Harper’s lack of recent Mavericks coverage on the Pick and Troll podcast was due to the team being generally unremarkable, prompting Harper to reply: “There just isn’t anything there right now. Team in transition without their Hall of Famer? What’s there to say?”

Although Dallas is all but certain to miss the playoffs, there is still quite a bit for devoted Mavericks fans to discuss regarding the remainder of the season. No, the Mavs won’t soon replicate the high-flying, must-see moments of the Los Angeles Clippers or offer the same star-power-meets-train-wreck appeal of the Los Angeles Lakers. This season offers the Mavericks a glimpse at the twilight of the franchise’s best player, a great coach doing fine work, veterans trying to energize unlikely bids for the Hall of Fame and a likable, unselfish roster that still gives its all in good times and bad.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 91, Oklahoma City Thunder 112

Posted by Kirk Henderson on February 5, 2013 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.

  • I spent most of the game watching and rewatching plays that involved O.J. Mayo (eight points, six assists). His five turnovers were inexcusable. After a rough stretch in December and a horrible game against Miami to start the year, Mayo seemed to get his turnovers under control. Over this road trip, however, he managed to turn the ball over just under four times a game. He started this game with a turnover when he didn’t see Kevin Durant in the passing lane on the game’s second possession. His final turnover occurred when he lost the ball on an out of bounds play. These turnover are due to lack of focus and when Mayo isn’t focused he really hurts the Mavericks.
  • There should be no question why Vince Carter was not traded recently to the Grizzlies during the Memphis-Toronto trade talks. He’s simply too important. Since Dallas does not seem to have a functional back up point guard, his passing ability is necessary to the Dallas bench. That he can get off a shot whenever he chooses is also vital. The offense bogged down with alarming regularity against the Thunder with no one able to get to the rim.
  • Dirk is now 11 for 41 from the field in the three games he’s played against the Thunder. It’s easy to read into this, though. The first game he shot 3 for 11, which was one of his first games back from his surgery. The second game Dirk shot 4 for 19, and still looked to be missing his legs. This third game he was forced to take a number of low percentages looks late in the shot clock because Dallas was having trouble getting any sort of clean look at the basket.
  • Bernard James set a new career high with four blocks to go along with his two points and six rebounds. His timing is really impressive.
  • The quiet dominance of Kevin Durant was on full display against Dallas. 19 points on 11 shots, 10 rebounds, and four assists in only 28 minutes of action. That he’s only 24 is simply unfair.
  • Not to continue to pick on Mayo, but his understanding of team defense is non-existent. In the second quarter he was guarding Kevin Martin (17 points) who was on the weak side wing. Kevin Durant was on the other wing, with the ball. Martin made a simple back cut and Durant found him wide open under the goal for a dunk. Mayo had no idea Martin had cut until it was way too late. A similar play happened a few possessions later when he got caught watching Durant. Thabo Sefolosha slipped behind Mayo and Durant found Sefolosha for a lay up which he missed. Mayo gets caught watching the ball a lot and as a result he’s often late on rotations, particularly when “helping the helper”. Helping the helper means rotating to a teammate’s defensive assignment when that teammate is forced to rotate elsewhere, often due to penetration.
  • In the first two match ups Darren Collison played very well, scoring 32 and 15 points respectively. Midway through the second quarter the Thunder opted to go very small, with Durant playing power forward. Durant switched onto Collison repeatedly during the Dallas high pick and roll action and shut down Collison, blocking his shot aggressivley on one possession. Between this and Russell Westbrook’s challenging defense, Collison stopped probing the lane early and the Dallas offense suffered.
  • Serge Ibaka (12 points, five rebounds) took and made his 8th three of the year. That’s a pretty good indication of how well the Thunder offense was clicking.
  • Mayo’s not the only one who needs a course in defensive awareness. In the second quarter Nick Collison was on the left wing being guarded by Dirk. Jae Crowder was guarding Kevin Durant, who was close to the left corner a few feet away. For some reason Crowder decided to leave Durant briefly  acting as if he was going to trap Nick Collison with Dirk. This was a really, really poor decision as Durant recognized what Crowder was thinking and cut to the basket. Collison threw a simple bounce pass between Dirk and Crowder which Durant caught and dunked it with a foul from Wright. It’s usually a good idea to not leave a MVP candidate wide open for a cut on the baseline.
  • Additionally, there was no way Brandan Wright was going to be able to block Durant as he slashed, mainly due to him being Durant, but also due to the angle Durant took to the basket. Wright has to be smarter than this. Either be in place earlier to challenge the shot better (unlikely since Wright seemed as surprised as everyone else that Durant was left open to cut) or just let the dunk go.
  • It’s interesting to watch how Darren Collison plays with contact. Against the Suns, he went into a zone late, scoring often in the fourth quarter, including one shot where he absorbed contact to finish a touch jumper. Against the Thunder he seemed to shy away from it and he missed three of his four attempts in the lane. One instance in third stands out: a posted up Dirk found a cutting Collison, who actively avoided contact in the paint and blew the layup/jump shot attempt.
  • Coach Carlisle opted to go with Mike James (two points, two turnovers) first when looking for back up point guard minutes. I cannot understand why. Mike James may offer value in a mentoring role, but I don’t see the downside of playing Roddy Beaubois (seven points, two assists). Carlisle tried James, then Dominique Jones (fifteen points) and finally gave Roddy a shot in the fourth.
  • The wealth of riches that is the Thunder bench borders on absurd. Reggie Jackson and Eric Maynor are excellent back up point options. Former number two over all pick Hasheem Thabeet is effective in limited minutes. Perry Jones was initially projected as a number one over all pick. Jeremy Lamb, who isn’t even with the team at the moment, has lottery level talent, should he ever develop. Daniel Orton, a former University of Kentucky player with John Wall and Demarcus Cousins, isn’t even able to get on the floor.
  • Dallas has an 8-19 record on the road. With 34 games yet to play this season, Dallas still has two extended road trips. Starting with the last game in February, the Mavericks play seven of eight on the road. They also have a four game during their last ten regular season games.
  • Watching how Westbrook attacks the rim is at once exhilarating and terrifying. His shot chart shows that he made it a point to get to the rim against Dallas, taking 10 of his 16 shots at the rim.
  • Outside of Bernard James, the main bright spot for Dallas was Shawn Marion’s 23 points on 10 of 14 shooting. He had everything working from the opening tip and even managed to hit a wing three, his third of the season. Strangely,  he’s hit all three of these shots in 2013 after not making any during the 2012 portion of the season.
  • The shot selection of Jae Crowder continues to confuse. Against the Thunder he shot 3 for 11, which is a little below his usual road field goal percentage of 31%. Eight of his 11 shots were well outside the paint, mostly in the 15 to 18 foot range. Beyond 10 feet, Crowder is shooting 33% for the year. I didn’t follow Crowder in college, but the stats-based community was excited to see him land in Dallas. I cannot imagine the role of jump shooting wing was the vision for him.
  • Strange that Dahntay Jones only saw eight minutes of action, all of it in garbage time. I assume Carlisle thought Crowder’s strength might have made a difference on Durant, but I would have liked to seen Jones get a crack at defending Durant. Jones comes with the added bonus that he doesn’t take as many maddening shots as Crowder does.
  • Part of why Brandan Wright (four points, seven rebounds) is a marginal player on the Dallas bench is his inability to set screens consistently in the pick and roll. Its not that he doesn’t want to, but his frame is so slight he does not provide any sort of obstacle when the Dallas opponent has athletic defenders. This was illistrated in the second quarter when O.J. Mayo and Wright tried to run a pick and roll three or four times. The Thunder hedge man was able to deter Mayo and the man guarding Mayo was able to step over Wright’s screen in no time. Finally, Mayo picked up his dribble and made an errant pass which Kevin Martin picked off.
  • There was technical assessed to Kendrick Perkins (seven points, seven rebounds) in the second quarter. Play had stopped due to a Dirk foul on Russell Westbrook. Perkins made a point to seek out and body up to Jae Crowder, who had apparently talked a little trash to Perkins after hitting a shot on the ensuing possession. Crowder talking trash was stupid itself, but for Perkins to decide it warranted him playing the tough guy and getting a technical foul is silly. Oklahoma City was up 25 at that point. I do understand not taking guff, but that was poor judgement.
  • Oddly enough, Dallas still has a 19.3% chance of making the playoffs this year according to the Hollinger Playoff Odds predictor.

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


Pocket Pair

Posted by Ian Levy on January 31, 2013 under Commentary | 10 Comments to Read

051:365 Magic Pair!

This has been an incredibly turbulent season for the Mavericks from a player personnel standpoint. They faced their first 27 games without Dirk Nowtizki, and with just five other returning players on the roster. An NBA roster has 15 slots, but the Mavericks have already used 19 different players this season, not including Delonte West — with whom the Mavericks parted ways before the season began. Each week it seems there is a new addition to be welcomed to the fold, bringing with them the warm tidings of hope.

Since he took over in Dallas, Rick Carlisle has proved repeatedly that managing personnel is one of his greatest coaching strengths. He has been innovative and progressive in managing his lineups and always seems to pull the most from each of his players. This season however, putting the pieces together has been a constant challenge. No matter how he arranges them, they don’t seem to fit together quite as uniformly as they have in the past, and the image never becomes totally clear. I’m personally of the opinion that it’s because these pieces don’t all come from the same puzzle, and that no matter what five-man unit Carlisle runs out onto the floor, some part of it will be a hasty Spackle job trying to hold back the rising tide of flood waters. However, I thought it might be interesting to look at the different lineup foundations he’s tried by examining his success (and lack thereof) with various two-man combinations.

The visualization below lets you look at all the different two-man combinations the Mavericks have used for at least 100 minutes this season. Unfortunately, to create all the combinations I had to place several players on both axes, which can make for a slightly confusing view. The size of each square represents the number of minutes that pairing played. The color represents that pairing’s Net Rating, or point differential per 100 possessions. If you hover over any of the squares you can also see that combination’s Offensive Rating and Defensive Rating. The filters below let you include or eliminate pairings based on any of those variables.



The three least efficient areas to shoot from are inside the paint (but not in the restricted area), from mid-range and straight ahead three-pointers. Altogether, 63.7% of this lineup’s shot attempts come from those three areas. Going back to my shot-selection metric from two weeks ago, the shot selection of this lineup gives them an XPPS of 0.988, where the league average is 1.047. They feature above-average mid-range shooters, but are using that weapon to a fault. Above-average ability isn’t manifesting in above-average success, and their Actual Points Per Shot is an even lower 0.936. From an outsider’s perspective, this group seems like they may be fundamentally incompatible offensively, even with Nowitzki’s eventual improvement taken into account.

Although you never like to see anyone injured, Kaman’s concussion offers the possibility for an interesting experiment. Kaman has had a solid individual season putting up 18.8 points per 36 minutes, the second highest of his career, on a TS% of 53.3, his highest since 2008-2009. However, his rebound percentage is the lowest since his rookie season and the Mavericks have generally struggled when he’s on the floor. Dallas’ defense is 3.6 points worse per 100 possessions with Kaman in the mix, a margin that’s ultimately not all that surprising. However, the Mavs’ offense is also 2.9 points worse per 100 possessions with Kaman involved. Turning back to the visualization above, we see that Kaman is featured in 12 different pairings, only two of which have outscored the opposition. Those two — with Brandan Wright and with Jae Crowder — have played a combined 343 minutes, 44 of which are overlapped.

Much of Carlisle’s rotation work this season has felt like tinkering around the edges. As long as they’ve been healthy, the foundational pieces of Kaman, Nowitzki, Mayo and Marion have been largely cemented in place. With Kaman out, Carlisle will be forced to manipulate his foundation, and there is an opportunity for Brandan Wright and Bernard James to find their way back into the regular rotation in a significant way. Both Wright and James have been featured in several successful (albeit scarcely used) pairings, and I can’t help but feel that they are under-utilized assets. Neither player is comfortable away from the basket on offense and each would give the Mavericks a very different look than with Brand or Kaman alongside Nowitzki. When we talk about spacing issues we are usually referring to a team with a lack of outside shooters, allowing the defense to clog the paint. In this case I think the Mavericks can actually improve their spacing by removing overly-willing outside shooters; the insertion of James or Wright will force the defense to expand their focus and defend more of the floor, more vigorously.

The visualization also makes it seem that there could be potential benefits in increased roles for Vince Carter and Jae Crowder. Carter has done tremendous work in keeping the second-unit offense afloat, but maybe it’s time to let him work long more court time with Nowitzki. His ability to work inside and out, particularly as a post-up threat, seems like it could also alleviate some of the one-dimensional reliance on the mid-range jumpshot. It would be a difficult pill to swallow, but perhaps Mayo would be better off swapping places with Carter. Moving to the bench might feel like a step backwards for Mayo and could have significant impacts on team chemistry, but at this point the Mavs’ current rotation isn’t doing much for the team’s present or future.

In addition to his work for The Two Man Game, Ian Levy is the author of Hickory High, and a contributor to Indy CornrowsHardwood Paroxysm, HoopChalk and ProBasketballDraft. You can follow Ian on Twitter at @HickoryHigh.

Ambiguous Architecture

Posted by Ian Levy on January 17, 2013 under Commentary | 6 Comments to Read

Solid Foundation?

For the first time in awhile, things are looking up in Dallas. Dirk Nowitzki is healthy, and the Mavericks are on a four game win streak. In their wins over Sacramento, Memphis, Minnesota and Houston, Dallas put up points at the scorching rate of 112.4 points per 100 possessions. This is a tremendous bump for what has been the 18th most efficient offense in the league this year and, at just 100.9 points per 100 possessions, the least efficient Mavericks’ offense of the past 13 seasons.

Offensive firepower of great variety has been the defining characteristic of Mavericks’ basketball for more than a decade, so watching the team struggle so mightily this season has been somewhat disconcerting. The absence of Dirk Nowitzki has certainly made things difficult, but the problems have been so systemic it’s hard to lay them all at the feet of one giant German. Across the entire season the Mavericks have wilted in each of the offensive Four Factors. They rank 8th in the league TO%, but 13th in eFG%, 16th in FTA Rate and 27th in ORB%.

The eFG% is especially troubling. Making shots is what Mavericks do, and under Rick Carlisle in particular, the team has shown a razor-sharp focus on the craft of creating quality open looks. This season however, their miraculous ability to manipulate and manufacture open space has largely fizzled. As dark as things have been, some fragrant Four-Factor-blossoms bloomed in their three most recent wins. They posted an eFG% of just 45.3% against Sacramento but pushed the bounds of offensive efficiency with just nine turnovers and 35 free throw attempts. Against Memphis and Minnesota, Dallas scorched the nets with eFG%s of 55.6% and 66.3% respectively. Against Houston, shooting was again a problem but 10 turnovers and 43 free throw attempts did the job. Those eFG% numbers are exciting to type; they feel like a thick, down sleeping bag with the potential to fend off the long winter weeks still to come. But I’m not sure they are truly a reflection of problems solved.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 86, San Antonio Spurs 111

Posted by David Hopkins on December 31, 2012 under Recaps | Be the First to 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.

  • On the bright side, it didn’t feel like a blowout until the 4th quarter. Throughout the game, the Mavs were within reach. The teams took turns with their scoring drives; it always appeared close.
  • By comparison, the last time the Mavs played the Spurs on December 23rd, it was a soul-crushing 38 point loss. This game was only slightly soul-crushing with a 25 point loss.
  • Another way to look at it, this season, the Spurs have beat the Mavs by 31.5 points on average.
  • The Mavs have had 14 different starting lineups in the past 31 games. Vince Carter started for the first time this season. It didn’t help. At 8:28 in the first quarter, the Spurs were ahead 14-2.
  • San Antonio’s big three were… big. Tony Parker had 21 points, 5 rebounds, and 9 assists. Manu Ginobili had 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. And Tim Duncan had 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks. They scored 53% of their team’s total points. They are boring but deadly.
  • Also to the Spurs’ credit, they shot 50.6% as the visiting team. When a team shoots that well, the opponent cannot afford to make many mistakes. One big mistake would be allowing your opponent to shoot 50.6%.
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