The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 109, Toronto Raptors 104

Posted by Connor Huchton on November 8, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

Mountains


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. 

  • It’s difficult to avoid a sense of surprise. The Mavericks have now won four of their first five games under the following detrimental conditions: an injured star player, injuries to several other key rotational players, an almost entirely new roster, and a lack of expectant team identity. And yet, it feels as though this Mavericks team hasn’t overcome the odds at all – they’re winning with the simplicity of fully formed ball movement, defense, and overwhelming lineup advantages, all stemming from the principles of Coach Rick Carlisle. The Mavericks won on Wednesday night with the same style that had previously powered them to become the NBA’s second-ranked offense, behind the sums of Vince Carter (6-14 FG, 17 points, five rebounds), Chris Kaman (8-15 FG, 22 points, eight rebounds), and O.J. Mayo’s (8-17 FG, 3-6 3PT, 22 points, six assists) offensive performances.
  • There is a sense within this Mavericks’ team of unceasing purpose. Any lineup – whether it be endowed with Carter or Jae Crowder (3-4 FG, 8 points, four rebounds) or Brandan Wright (5-9 FG, 12 points, seven rebounds) – is quickly cohesive and intently unselfish. Much of this has been powered by Darren Collison (5-13 FG, 15 points, two assists), who this season has performed closer to his 09-10 mold than more recent iterations. The top of the key is his domain, and the Mavericks benefit at every turn due to the unrelenting nature of his movement. The Mavericks are now shooting almost 50% from behind the three-point arc this season (having made 51 of 103 attempts), a percentage equal parts daunting and deserving, and a product of the team’s collective passing efforts.
  • The Mavericks’ ability to mix lineups and hold leads will only be expounded upon after the hopefully rapid return of Rodrigue Beaubois. His presence would quickly shore up the Mavericks most significantly pressing area of concern: backcourt depth. Vince Carter has filled in nicely in stead behind the stellar play of Collison and Mayo, but Beaubois’ return will bring a greater sense of completeness to the team’s rotation.
  • The primary question floating in the minds of many Mavericks’ fans is how a currently effective offense will react to the return of its essential placeholder, one Dirk Nowitzki. I expect continued success and improvement, though a slightly awkward assimilation period may occur. One of Darren Collison’s greatest strengths this season has been in pick-and-roll situations. His distributing efforts have created many open jumpers for Elton Brand, who has not yet been able to capitalize on these attempts with any great consistency. These are opportunities that Nowitzki will be more likely to finish than Brand, and are thus likely to improve the offense’s base efficiency. Though the load of the offense given to players like Brand and Mayo may decrease upon Dirk’s return, the strength and quality of team personnel will remain. Carlisle’s options will grow and the tenets of his offense will likely be implemented at a more efficient rate. The returns of Beaubois, Marion, and Dirk should be eagerly anticipated, despite what change they may bring.
  • It is important to note that the Mavericks 4-1 record has not come against overwhelming competition – the Mavericks’ first five opponents have a current record of 7-16.

Gain through Loss

Posted by Brian Rubaie on November 7, 2012 under Commentary | 3 Comments to Read

Gain Through Loss

Mavericks fans are counting down the days until Dirk Nowitzki’s return, but they should also count their blessings. What the Mavericks lose without Dirk on the floor is painfully clear. An unmistakable leadership void sometimes leaves the Mavericks searching for good looks during prolonged scoring droughts. Yet what the Mavericks may potentially gain during his absence is less obvious but equally important to their long-term prospects.

Missing Dirk puts Dallas’ rebuilt roster of young players and new additions through a trial by fire. Every Maverick is being asked to make extraordinary contributions to keep the ship afloat while the captain is away. The hopeful result is the slow development of a group that will learn how to produce points when Dirk struggles or leaves the floor.

Nowitzki’s history lends credence to the theory. When Dirk shared the floor with Steve Nash, he willingly yielded to Nash at the end of close games. Once Nash left Dallas those looks fell to Dirk, who admitted he was uncomfortable being almost solely in charge of them. There were several misfires along the way, but each failure strengthened Nowitzki’s development into one of the most reliable closers in the NBA. The Mavericks’ current roster has been left to brave a similarly harsh winter, but may emerge a much improved unit when the stakes heat up come spring.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 114, Portland Trail Blazers 91

Posted by Kirk Henderson on November 6, 2012 under Recaps | 4 Comments to Read

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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.

  •  That O.J. Mayo (32 points, 6-8 from three) guy sure is fun to watch when he’s rolling.  His jump shot really looks good from beyond the arc.  Mr. Mayo finally had a good game inside the arc as well, shooting 6-10.  It’s quite exciting to think what he might be able to do given the additional threat of Dirk once he returns from injury.
  • One cannot mention Mayo without mentioning his back court partner, Darren Collison (14 points, 13 assists).  Collison’s insistence on pushing the pace early and often got Dallas off to a fantastic start and got Portland rookie Damian Lillard into foul trouble.  When the game tightened in the second quarter and into the third it was Collison who took control of the tempo, both with his fluid pick and roll game as well as his constant lane probing for layups or kick outs.
  • Collison’s passing was clearly infectious - Dallas dominated the assist category 29 to 13.
  • Before moving on to more of the various positive aspects of the win, let’s discuss the glaring negative: rebounding, again. While Dallas was only beat 48-37 on the boards over all, they lost the offensive rebounding battle 23-2.  Over these first four games Dallas is giving up 18.25 offensive rebounds a game. The hot shooting in the three wins (57%) is covering up this problem, but it needs to be improved upon soon, simply because Dallas’ shooting will come back down to earth.
  • Chris Kaman (16 points on 8-10 shooting, 6 rebounds) had a second great offensive game in a row.  He seemed to have it all working; outside shooting and crafty moves near the bucket.  His defensive leaves something to be desired. He’s a step slow on most rotations and last night did not protect the rim with much authority.
  • Bringing Kaman off of the bench has allowed the Mavericks to keep the offensive intensity turned up to high. In the last 2 games Dallas has yet to score below 26 points in a quarter.
  • I recommend keeping an eye out for Jae Crowder on the bench. His joy at big plays is fantastic.
  • Elton Brand (8 points, 5 rebounds) finally had a decent game shooting the ball. His contributions aren’t showing up in the stat sheet, but his defense and hustle have been outstanding. I suspect when he sees more minutes against second unit players upon Dirk’s return his offensive numbers will improve.
  • Though Shawn Marion (8 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks) missed a good portion of the second half with what’s being reported as a knee strain, he continues to be a vital cog for the team. His stat line is impressive for only 24 minutes of playing time.
  • Brandan Wright (10 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block) is playing with such confidence right now. Every shot he takes looks confident and, while I’d love to see him rebound more, he’s holding his own on defense.  I also love the way he hedges screens.  His length and quickness really bothered the Portland back court last night.
  • Dallas centers are shooting 81% from the floor this season (38-47 for Kaman and Wright)
  • Last night was also the first time in franchise history that the team shot 60% from the floor in back to back games. They did this without one of the most efficient shooters in the league in Dirk. This is the sort of stat that will grow more impressive as the season goes along.
  • I continue to be impressed with Carlisle’s rotations.  Ten Mavericks played at least 14 minutes.  That sort of experience for the entire roster may prove invaluable as the season rolls along.
  • The depth of Dallas clearly wore Portland down.  Former Mavs assistant Terry Stotts was forced to go to his bench early and often, which had not happened yet this season. Though Portland boasts a fairly solid top 6 in their rotation, things start to get rather dicey quickly the deeper Stotts is forced to go into his bench.
  • I’m not sure how I made it thus far without mentioning the contributions of Dominique Jones (6 points, 6 assists, 3 steals).  He ran the offense with confidence, attacked the rim with a purpose and got his hands on a number of loose balls. Jones has not had an easy road as a Maverick and it’s nice to see him string together a couple of decent games.  In the pre-season it looked as if he had played his way out of Carlisle’s rotation but injuries and roster changes have made Jones a bit of a necessity.
  • Jae Crowder (9 points, 2 rebounds) posted a +22 in 14 minutes of playing time. When he is on the floor, good things seem to happen.
  • Portland rookie Damian Lillard (13 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds) had a rough shooting game (2-13 and many of his deep shots went in and out), but you could see the great player he should become.  Despite early foul trouble, he played aggressively, attacking the rim and getting 8 free throws in the process. He has great vision as well, making him an all around threat.
  • LaMarcus Aldridge was held relatively in check last night (20 points, 7 rebounds), but he makes shots that are Dirk-like.
  • Mayo and Wesley Matthews (20 points) engaged in a bit of a shootout last night.  While Mayo clearly won that battle, after last night Mayo and Matthews are 1-2 in the NBA in three pointers made.
  • Vince Carter’s (8 points, 3 rebounds, 3-9 shooting) shot selection left much to be desired. But I suppose with Vince, you take the good with the bad.
  • Roddy Beaubois was unavailable against Portland but was apparently able to make it through most of the walk through. I’ll bet on his return Wednesday against Toronto.
  • Are you following The Two Man Game on twitter? You should be. Great content like this and this is being posted daily.
  • Wednesday night look to round out their three game home stand with a win against the revamped Toronto Raptors and their exciting guard Kyle Lowry.  Visit us later today and tomorrow for continued coverage of the Dallas Mavericks.

Kirk Henderson is a member of The Two Man Game family. You can follow Kirk on Twitter @KirkSeriousFace

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 99, Los Angeles Lakers 91

Posted by Connor Huchton on October 31, 2012 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

 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.

  • It begins with defense. From season to season, as the Mavericks’ roster changes, grows, and bends, the theme of strong, systemic defensive style remains the same under the tutelage of Coach Rick Carlisle. Despite missing two of the team’s better offensive players in Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman, the team’s energy never waned defensively. Darren Collison (17 points, four assists, 8-12 FG) spring-boarded along the perimeter, harrying Steve Nash (seven points, four assists, 3-9 FG) to a dismal performance. Shawn Marion (5-11 FG, 11 points, nine rebounds, four assists) played like the defensive-focused Hall-of-Famer he is. And Elton Brand (eight points, 11 rebounds, 3-10 FG) served as a constant breath of isolation defense fresh air. Brand bothered Dwight Howard (19 points, 10 rebounds, 8-12 FG, 3-14 FT) at every turn, and managed to limit his and other Lakers’ bigs opportunities to dominate the game for any significant stretch.
  • The Mavericks’ offensive cohesion was a surprise of the most pleasant kind. Nine Mavericks’ players had seven points or more, and apart from O.J. Mayo’s late game struggles, almost no player’s production came with a dose of moderate inefficiency. The ball moved with crispness, best exemplified by a late-game play in which Darren Collison passed to a cleverly positioned Elton Brand near the elbow, who in turn quickly passed to a rolling Shawn Marion for a smooth dunk. This transition from a two-man game situation to an immediate matchup advantage, simply through an act of positioning by Brand and the team’s general offensive flow, was a brief, pretty moment of basketball, and one that nicely summed up a night of fun movement.
  • Jae Crowder (eight points, 3-7 FG) and Rodrigue Beaubois (11 points, five assists, 4-8 FG) provided a seamless transition between Mavericks’ rotations through their energized play, both offensively and defensively. Crowder and Beaubois are perhaps the two most exciting players on the team until Nowitzki returns, so their success provided a welcome sight of hope for concerned Mavericks’ fans.
  • Beaubois’ five assists actually led the team, highlighting a fairly strong performance in only 17 minutes of action.
  • It must be noted that this Lakers’ team is not yet fully formed and clearly lacks chemistry at the moment, but it is equally worth noting how much vitality a less-than-healthy Mavericks’ exuded in juxtaposition to the Lakers.
  • Eddy Curry (3-7 FG, seven points, four rebounds) and Brandan Wright (14 points, five rebounds, 5-5 FG) must also be commended for their efforts in the place of the injured Chris Kaman, as both filled in admirably in their own way. Wright finished gracefully and efficiently at the rim as he always does (while exceeding expectations, which he also has a knack for doing), and Curry provided a moderately effective defensive presence for stretches of the game.
  • An important key to the Mavericks’ victory was how well the team collectively played to its own strengths. Collison and Beaubois used their speed and mid-range game, Marion found space for those oft-used six-foot floaters, Wright demonstrated the advantages of wingspan near the rim, and Brand helped move the ball between the perimeter and key with quickness and alacrity.
  • How the Mavericks react to an unexpected victory will be very telling in regards to the team’s continued chances until Nowitzki returns. Rhythm existed on both offense and defense tonight to an almost astounding extent – is the team capable of producing a similar effort on back-to-back nights without the overwhelming talent needed to coast?

The Rundown, Volume II

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on October 29, 2012 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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The Rundown is back. Every Monday, The Rundown will chronicle the week that was for the Mavericks, as well as let you know what is coming up for the boys in blue, with a unique spin. Simply put, it is your Monday catch-up on all things with the Dallas Mavericks.

If you thought you saw it all in The Rundown last week, you’ve got another thing coming. The news kept on coming for the Mavericks (most of it being unfavorable). Another chapter in the Delonte West saga was written, and new Mavericks came walking through the doors of the American Airlines Center. As the preseason wrapped up and the regular season is approaching, let’s take a look at the week for the Mavericks.

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Quoteboard: Dallas Mavericks 87, New Orleans Hornets 74

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on October 23, 2012 under Interviews | Be the First to Comment

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It was an open and shut case as the Mavericks began the game on a 13-2 run and never trailed at any point en route to a 87-74 preseason victory over the New Orleans Hornets. With the win, the Mavericks moved to 3-3 for the preseason. Efficiency was a point of emphasis by coach Rick Carlisle leading up to the game. The Mavericks answered the challenge by recording a preseason-low 10 turnovers (Don’t mind the 36.0 percent shooting from the floor). Their previous low was 13 at F.C. Barcelona Regal on 10/9.

The starting forwards were huge for the Mavericks. Forward Shawn Marion recorded eight points to go along with a preseason-high 12 rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block in 28 minutes. Jae Crowder extended his double-figure scoring streak to four games with 12 points, four rebounds, a preseason-high four assists, one steal and one block in 30 minutes. Vince Carter continued to be effective off the bench as he tallied 11 points and seven boards off of the Mavericks’ bench. He has now scored in double figures in four straight games and five of the Mavericks’ first six preseason contests.

I could do an adequate job of recapping the game, but I’ll let the guys who coached and or played in the game handle the responsibilities of talking about it. Here is your quoteboard for the game against the Hornets.

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Setting the Table: Atlanta Hawks (Preseason)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on October 20, 2012 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

Table Setting

The Mavericks will get their first look at Eastern Conference basketball as they head to Atlanta to take on the Hawks. Dallas will have their first game after finding out that Dirk Nowitzki is on the shelf for the foreseeable future after getting his knee scoped on Friday morning. The team will be getting one player back and losing one player as Roddy Beaubois returns after sitting out for two games due to a sore left ankle. Chris Kaman stayed back in Dallas to get treatment for an ailing calf (not the animal, his actual calf muscle).

Here are some notes of interest as the Mavericks get ready to take on the Hawks.

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Shutting It Down (The Waiting Game Ends)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on October 19, 2012 under News | 5 Comments to Read

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News broke on Friday afternoon that Dirk Nowitzki underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his bothersome right knee Friday. The waiting game is officially over. According to the organization, the surgery was performed at Texas Sports Medicine by team orthopedic surgeon T.O. Souryal. Nowitzki is expected to resume on-court activities within approximately six weeks. “We’ve been preparing for this possibility,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said on Friday afternoon. “It’s never going to be easy to lose a game-changer for six weeks. We know that, but we’re going to have to make up for that in other areas. We’re going to have to play with grit, guts and we’re going to have to raise our level of efficiency in all areas.”

After having his knee drained on multiple occasions during the preseason and speculating if he could continue to work through the issue, Dirk decided to shut it down and begin the healing process. Dirk has been known as a machine as he’s had the ability to recover quickly from injuries, but this will push the boundary of that status, especially when it involves the knee. Carlisle did lighten to mood by sharing his own experience with the procedure, which was done during the 2010-11 season. “If it ‘s any comfort to you, I had a scope two years ago and I was back playing ping pong within six weeks,” Carlisle said. “It didn’t affect my game at all.”

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The Glass is Completely Full

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on under Commentary | Read the First Comment

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Depending on how you assess thing, your glass is either half empty or it’s half full. Dirk Nowitzki (the basketball snuggie) has a gimpy knee and that could really dampen the mood for fans or inside the organization, but that isn’t raining on Mark Cuban’s parade. The man who signs the checks has his glass completely full right now when looking at the potential for his new-look Mavericks squad. “I’m excited. I’m fired up about this team,” Cuban said as he was conducting his customary stairmaster interview prior to Wednesday’s preseason game. “It’s energetic, fun and exciting. It’s a new chapter. I’m ready to go.”

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Blue and White

Posted by David Hopkins on October 18, 2012 under Commentary | 6 Comments to Read

Blue, White, Blue.

David Hopkins is a freelance writer — a regular contributor to D Magazine and Smart Pop Books. Follow David on Twitter at @davidhopkins.

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“Are you sure it’s okay for me to wear Jason Kidd’s jersey?”

My wife April has asked me this question about three times now. She loves basketball. She knows the game. But April is still leery about jersey etiquette. I reassured her that people still love Kidd, and it’s very respectable to wear the jersey of a former player… as long as it’s not Bruno Sundov. That’s just weird.

I bought the Kidd jersey for $8 as the pro shop purged their warehouse, before shipping the lonely remnants to Central America.

Thus, the benefits of Jason Kidd leaving:

  1. Cheap jerseys
  2. The Mavs’ fast break will no longer look like when the P.E. coach tells the stoner kids to hustle.
  3. I don’t have to give a damn about his DWI.

April wanted a Kidd jersey ever since our first game together, when she pointed from our upper-deck seats down to the old man with the ball. “I like him. He’s all business.”

April has good instincts. She foresaw the greatness of Tyson Chandler in 2010 while I was still weighing the benefits of Brendan Haywood. And she gave up on Lamar Odom months before I did.

We were going to the Mavstoberfest event to see the Blue vs. White scrimmage. She wanted to wear her new jersey, and I saw no crime in it.

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