Thermodynamics: Week 19

Posted by Travis Wimberly on March 8, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Fire Ice
Thermodynamics (n.) – the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy

The Mavs’ level of play this week was all over the map. From game to game, quarter to quarter, and even timeout to timeout, the Mavs showcased the level of frightening inconsistency we’ve seen pretty much all year. Really, the week was a perfectly framed microcosm of the basic “hot/cold” concept behind this weekly Thermodynamics column. They were hot. Then they were cold. Then they were hot again — unless they were still cold.

Fortunately, all of that makes it especially easy to write this week’s installment.

Week 19 (@Nets, @Rockets, Rockets)

FIRE

1) OJ Mayo

In the early part of this season, Mayo had pretty much camped out a permanent spot on this “hot” list. Since late December, though, I’ve had exceedingly few occasions to applaud him for a solid week’s worth of games. This week, he finally played consistently enough to earn this spot. He was far from perfect, but you could credibly argue that he had the best week of any Mav. He scored 17 points on 6-of-12 (50%) shooting in Brooklyn, including 3-of-4 (75%) from deep. One of those threes came late in the fourth quarter amidst a big Nets rally, and effectively stemmed the tide long enough for the Mavs to hold on for an impressive road win. Mayo’s performance a few nights later in Houston was a mixed bag; he was terrific offensively, netting 18 points on 6-of-9 (67%) shooting to go with four assists and a steal, but he was a huge part of the Mavs’ pathetically woeful defensive effort. Call that game a wash. A few nights later in Dallas, Mayo played much better against the Rockets — so well, in fact, that Rick Carlisle called it Mayo’s best game of the year. That may be a bit of rhetoric, but it’s not preposterous. Mayo contributed just 13 points in the Rockets rematch, but he was absolutely stellar otherwise: six rebounds, 12 assists, and zero turnovers. Mayo consistently made the right play and was singlehandedly responsible for creating a significant portion of the Mavs’ offense. Especially considering his lackluster performance in recent weeks prior, Mayo shined rather brightly this week.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 112, Houston Rockets 108

Posted by Kirk Henderson on March 7, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Rocket

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.

  • This was quite possibly O.J. Mayo’s best game of the season with 13 points, 12 assists, and six rebounds. He set the tone early with five first quarter assists and continued to make the easy pass throughout the game. It obviously helps when teammates are converting shots (Shawn Marion was brilliant in this regard), but Mayo deserves credit in an area where he’s struggled recently, attempting to do too much and committing turnovers. That he didn’t post a single turnover against the Rockets is incredibly impressive and displays a level of patience not seen from him in weeks. His patience in play making carried over into his shot selection; he waited to assert himself until the final quarter, taking and making three straight shots over a 90 second period as Houston was attempting to take the lead.
  • Dirk Nowitzki’s willingness to give up the ball out of his short corner sweet spot kept the Maverick offense flowing. Though Dirk was quite efficient with his shooting, scoring 22 points on 9 of 16, I was more impressed with the three assists he dished to Brendan Wright (12 points on 6 of 7 shooting) in the first three minutes of the third quarter. Wright may not ever have a consistent rotation spot, mainly due to his rebounding (he grabbed two in 27 minutes of action against Houston), but when he’s hitting offensively, he helps open up the floor for the Mavericks. Dirk was able to get shots later in the game due to Houston being forced to guard the high post flash from any Dallas center.
  • Though many league observers focus on what a certain purple and gold clad shooting guard is doing at age 34, Shawn Marion is doing things defensively at the same age that should not be possible. Even throwing out his 22 points on 10 of 16 shooting, Marion had a brilliant game. Yes, James Harden had 16 free throws, mainly due to his ability to sell contact, but when the game was on the line Marion prevented Harden from getting quality looks. Harden is excellent at both direct penetration and getting off shots when moving side to side. Marion’s abililty to stay on his feet and in front of Harden made the majority of these looks incredibly dificult.  That Marion’s never made an All Defensive team is one of the unspoken travesties among close followers of the NBA.
  • What is Dallas going to do with Darren Collison (seven points, five assists, three turnovers)? He’s been forced to come off the bench at least once behind every single point guard Dallas has had on the team this season, this time behind Mike James. That list of point guards is not a short one. As maddening as his offensive inconsistency is, it’s his lack of defensive understanding that may limit his time in Dallas to a single season. He was unable to stay in front of Jeremy Lin (or any other Rocket) for much of the game. I fail to understand how a player as fast as Collison has such poor lateral movement. Lin repeatedly beat Collison to the middle of the floor which is counter to the Dallas philosophy of forcing a ball handler towards the baseline. I also don’t understand the recovery angles he takes once he gets beat as he often ends up on the side of his man instead of in front of him. Towards the end of the first quarter, after Lin had scored two consecutive layups on him, Collison was unable to get over a screen on a left wing pick and roll. His attempt at recovery did nothing to prevent Lin from whipping a pass to the right corner for a Chandler Parsons three, mainly because he saddled up next to Lin instead of getting between him and the basket. Finally, we have Collison’s tendency to float mentally when he’s off ball. At the three minute mark in the third, Harden caught Collison flatfooted and found Lin making a simple back cut behind Collison which lead to a Lin lay up. A starting point guard in the NBA cannot make the kind of mental errors Collison makes with alarming regularity.

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 103, Houston Rockets 136

Posted by Connor Huchton on March 4, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Clouds

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

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

  • If you focus on three of this game’s four quarters, what appears is another close loss to a good team.
  • But if you stumble across the dreaded third quarter, the worst of quarters known to man or woman (other than the 2003 Not-Centennial Quarter of A Quarter), things become impossibly bleak.
  • The Rockets outscored the Mavericks 44-17 over the course of a 12-minute period. Yes, the Mavericks allowed 44 points.
  • That 44-point mark is the most the Mavericks have allowed in a single quarter this season, and hopefully that record will hold for the remaining 23 games.
  • As faulty as single-game plus-minus is in the realm of statistics, the fact that every Houston starter had a +26 or better speaks volumes about the way Dallas began a tumultuous second-half.
  • Speaking of +/- and other symbols, tonight held a certain sadness beyond the final score.
  • The sterling career of consummate professional Shawn Marion experienced a slight tarnish, as he posted the worst plus-minus of his career, at -35.
  • So what went wrong? Such a wide-ranging question is difficult to quantify with a simple answer, but it begins with perimeter defense, a prevalent issue for the Mavericks all season, and never more so than tonight.
  • Chandler Parsons (12-13 FG, 6-7 3PT, 32 points) isn’t the greatest jump-shooter to grace this storied Earth, but he is enough of a well-rounded player to seize countless open opportunities.
  • Such opportunities came in spades tonight, especially from the aforementioned perimeter, as he made open looks that the Mavericks were so confusingly willing to allow him, especially in the late second and third quarters.
  • When you allow an opposing NBA team to take 34 three-pointers, you are almost assured to lose.
  • When the team in question is the three-point shooting-oriented Rockets, things are even more likely to go badly.
  • In the third quarter, a quick glance at the shot chart and a review of the game tape reveals a simple truth.
  • That truth is this: Over the course of those fateful minutes, the Rockets took an almost impossible number of three-pointers and lay-ups.
  • Those two types of shots, while broadly described, are definitively the most efficient shot types in the game of basketball.
  • A team that manages to primarily attempt those shot types will likely win, and the Rockets are such a team.
  • Esteemed GM Daryl Morey has often alluded to as much, and I’d guess he’s quite happy with how well the team’s methodology surged into the limelight as the game proceeded.
  • That methodology led to the following results in the 44-point third quarter, by my count:
  • A) 7-8 FG at the rim   B) 1-2 FG on mid-range jumpers C) 6-10 3PT from three
  • A defense that allows an opponent to generate those levels of shot discrepancies will always fail, and so the Mavericks did.
  • It was apparent with every passing play that the Mavericks could not find a cohesive defensive strategy: either they overcommitted to the perimeter or allowed far too much room for Jeremy Lin (8-14 FG, 21 points, nine assists), James Harden (5-10 FG, 4-8 3PT, 21 points, seven assists), and Parsons to operate, despite all three being known dangerous quantities from beyond the arc.
  • Harden, in particular, was allowed far too much room to pull-up or spot-up throughout the game.
  • An example that comes to mind is in the middle of the third quarter. Harden is given too much room off an Omer Asik (4-6 FG, 10 points, 10 rebounds) screen, he penetrates into the lane easily, and then dishes to an open Parsons.
  • Vince Carter (4-8 FG, 2-5 3PT, 12 points, four rebounds) goes to close on Parsons, but his contest is hardly one at all.
  • It’s a half-hearted hand wave in the general direction of Parsons, but not a movement that would affect a solid, tall three-point shooter.
  • Now, the fault of a play like this, and the countless similar plays that followed and preceded it in this game, is not solely on Carter or any particular player.
  • It’s a systematic breakdown, apart from any single Maverick, coupled with mediocre individual defense on the part of Marion (atypical), Carter, and Brandan Wright (5-8 FG, 12 points, three rebounds), who didn’t step up to affect Harden in a significant way.
  • Such an occasion is symptomatic of the night, and fairly representative of the Mavericks’ defense over the course of this wayward season.
  • I’d like to finish this (hopefully) comprehensive missive by briefly discussing a single offensive facet.
  • By facet, I’m referencing the tepid play of Dirk Nowitzki (2-8 FG, 8 points, four assists, four rebounds) in tonight’s game.
  • After such a strong stretch of production over the last five contests, Dirk struggled mightily tonight.
  • My issue is not with the shots Dirk took (it rarely is), but with the lack of focus around him offensively, both due to his choices and the team’s various distributors. The Mavericks aren’t going to win many games when Dirk takes only eight shots over the course of 27 minutes, especially if none of those looks are three-pointers and few of them fall into the categories of “easy” or “within the flow of the game”.
  • They certainly didn’t win this one, and time is swiftly escaping the sporadic squad’s grasp with only 23 games and a fading dream left to hold.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 105, Houston Rockets 100

Posted by Connor Huchton on January 17, 2013 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

Clouds

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

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

  • Never has Elton Brand’s (4-9 FG, 11 points, 10 rebounds) importance been more clear than as he denied James Harden (5-23 FG, 20 points, eight rebounds, seven assists) on two consecutive attempts in the closing moments of the fourth quarter. Brand carefully blocked Harden during the most important possession of a close game, as Harden soared into the air with the game tied and momentum on the Rockets’ side. But Brand waited and precisely leaped, and the resulting Mavericks’ fast break points (from O.J. Mayo free throws) were enough to seal a Mavericks’ victory.
  • Dirk Nowitzki (7-14 FG, 19 points, eight rebounds) led the Mavericks in scoring, as he has so many times in the past. The most encouraging aspect of Dirk’s performance was its overcoming nature: Dirk began the game slowly (1-6 FG), but made six of his last eight shots and steadied the Mavericks’ offense throughout a turbulent fourth quarter.
  • O.J. Mayo (3-14 FG, 12-13 FT, 18 points, eight assists, six rebounds) really struggled to find his jumper but did find a nice replacement vein of scoring: free throws, and many of them. It was nice to see Mayo find a way to help the Mavericks in a significant way on a night when he couldn’t simply pull up from beyond the arc. Instead, Mayo passed, rebounded, and free-throw(ed) his way towards a solid contribution.
  • And again, Mayo only had two turnovers in a Mavericks’ win. It’s fair to call this a trend.
  • Tonight’s game serves as a keen example of winning on a night defined by adversity. Despite struggling mightily from the field, the Mavericks drew fouls (43 free throws), passed well (22 assists, 10 turnovers), and played strong closing defense on the way to a hard-fought, four-game winning streak-continuing victory (that’s a lot of adjectives).

The Difference: Oklahoma City Thunder 103, Dallas Mavericks 97

Posted by Rob Mahoney on May 5, 2012 under Recaps | 5 Comments to Read

Screen Shot 2012-05-05 at 11.15.33 PM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot Chart — Game Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas92.0105.448.130.425.012.7
Oklahoma City112.058.026.717.613.4

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

  • You know what they say: If you’re going to lose a winnable series in four games, at least go out in an exhibition for one of the game’s most fantastically understated players, supplying the wood for his buzzsaw in what one can ultimately assume will be a daunting display of razor-focused finesse and craftsmanship. James Harden (29 points, 11-16 FG, 3-4 3FG, five rebounds, five assists) gets a raw deal because the public’s attention span can only extend to two star teammates at a time, but he’s far too good to be relegated as some distant third, and far too lethal to be ignored, even for a second. Dallas tried a number of coverages from a variety of directions in the fourth quarter, but none of it mattered — Harden attacked from the same point on the floor at the same angle, repeatedly bludgeoning the Mavericks with his own unique grace. And, as an important extension: credit upon credit to Scott Brooks, who afforded Harden the opportunities he needed without the slightest interference. Harden keyed the offense and out-dueled Dirk Nowitzki, all because his teammates agreed to spot up from the perimeter, because his coach saw an opening and exploited it, and because he’s a ridiculously difficult pick-and-roll cover.

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The Difference: Oklahoma City Thunder 95, Dallas Mavericks 79

Posted by Rob Mahoney on May 4, 2012 under Recaps | 5 Comments to Read

Screen Shot 2012-05-04 at 9.45.34 AM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas94.085.938.834.220.017.4
Oklahoma City103.349.420.017.48.7

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

  • With the Mavericks splattered on the Thunder’s windshield, it seems a more appropriate time than ever to reinforce just how limited Dallas’ half-court offense has been this season. This crew has managed to salvage just enough possessions for us to wonder if they’re still capable of more, and yet time and time again these Mavs trip into performances like this one: outings filled with bouts of lame, stagnant offense, designed to flow but caught in the mire. Dirk Nowitzki is a miraculous player, but the team so carefully propelled by its balance last season has very clearly caved in, leaving Nowitzki as the one self-standing tentpole to bear the weight of a drooping roster.
    .
    It’s all fun and games when the play action comes easy, but the virtues of extra passes and open shots don’t mean all that much when a team lacks the capability to consistently create such opportunities. Rick Carlisle has tried to find substitutes for the likes of J.J. Barea and Tyson Chandler, but ultimately failed to recreate the same perfect mix of ingredients that brought this same core their own slice of basketball immortality last June. Things could never be the same — not after all of the pieces Dallas lost, and after each of the team’s many additions subtly pushed the Mavs in a different direction. It’s no fault of the newcomers specifically, at least any more than it’s a fault of every Maverick; this was an experiment gone wrong, and though by nature of the process most eyes will turn to the experimenter himself in blame, every beaker and burner and unproductive big man played a part in not playing their part.
  • I’ve been among Brendan Haywood’s more generous supporters, and even I’ve completely run out of excuses and justifications for his poor performance. Perhaps Haywood still holds value in the right context, but at the moment that context seems far too limited to justify his standing or his salary. He actively holds the team back in the vein of an end-of-the-road Erick Dampier, and though he’s only 32 years old, Haywood seems to have sufficiently worn through much of his NBA utility. Haywood has seen Ian Mahinmi and Brandan Wright — two very imperfect players — take their turn in the spotlight during the regular season, all while he settled in with unimpressive rebounding, far too unreliable defense, and slim offensive relevance. Now he seems to have fully completed his downswing; his play leaves more to be desired than I would have possibly imagined, and he shrivels not in the shadow of Mahinmi, Wright, or even Chandler, but in the context of useful basketball players in the most general sense.

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The Difference: Oklahoma City 102, Dallas Mavericks 99

Posted by Rob Mahoney on May 1, 2012 under Recaps | 11 Comments to Read

Screen Shot 2012-05-01 at 1.38.45 AM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas94.0105.344.940.527.312.3
Oklahoma City108.548.558.217.916.0

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

  • Basketball fans tend to see their teams as either the cursed or the ordained, but in reality every franchise is somewhere in between; whatever forces govern the seemingly random bouncing of the ball tend to slide in whichever direction they like, and as much as we’d like to pretend that there’s a real image to be discerned from the breaks of the game, doing so is akin to claiming that stars are drawn for the sake of constellation.
    .
    Performance is and will always be based in execution, but as Dallas has shown over the first two games of this series, sometimes that execution isn’t enough. It’s not sufficient to merely create opportunities; in the inevitable close games that come in a playoff run, the currency of those opportunities must be exchanged. They’re worth something in themselves, but only by utilizing those windows can Dallas — or  any team — attain something of more practical value. The Mavs are trying their damnedest to get more out of those crucial chances, but for the moment they’ve only (and admirably) managed to put themselves in a position to flip a coin. In that, Rick Carlisle and his team can’t be wholly disappointed that the flip keeps coming up tails.
    .
    Dallas, through late-game blunders and all, had their shots. They just weren’t the ordained this time around, and thus failed to make the most of their aforementioned opportunities. Dallas may have left the 2010-2011 season as conquering heroes, but the days of improbable comeback after improbable comeback and huge shot after huge shot appear gone. The magic has left from this Maverick world, with a departure only so sure as the inevitability of its return.

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The Difference: Oklahoma City Thunder 99, Dallas Mavericks 98

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 29, 2012 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

Screen Shot 2012-04-29 at 1.34.59 AM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot Chart Game Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas94.0104.350.032.127.014.4
Oklahoma City105.351.925.322.013.8

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 should hardly come as a surprise given the final margin, but games really don’t get more balanced than this one. Both teams saw their superstars swell in the spotlight, escaping heroically from the mire of their earlier struggles. The top-notch defenders present didn’t disappoint; Serge Ibaka and Shawn Marion both came up with tremendous play after tremendous play, and the craftier defenders on both teams — Jason Kidd and James Harden — managed to get deflections and key defensive action from off the ball. The rebounding profiles of both teams came to a curious middle. The Mavericks somehow managed to get to the line more often than the Thunder — an incredible feat considering that OKC ranks tops in the league in free throw rate — but also turned the ball over more often than their opponents — an equally incredible feat considering that OKC also ranks last in the league in turnover rate. The elite team and the inconsistent team played their way to a standstill, and Kevin Durant broke the silence with a terrific shot in the face of perfectly played defense.
    .
    One could theoretically chalk up a Maverick loss to any number of factors (oddly fragile late-game performance, Dirk Nowitzki’s uncharacteristic turnovers, OKC’s fantastic denial of Jason Terry, a random Ibaka three-pointer, etc.), but I’m not sure I see the point in that kind of exercise. Rick Carlisle and his staff will look to make changes based on Dallas’ many distinct shortcomings, but none of those individual flaws provided a reason for loss so much as the slightest opportunity for one. The Mavs played well. They got real, consistent value from a wide net of contributors, largely forced the Thunder into difficult shots, and managed to negate some of their opponent’s greatest strengths. But someone had to lose this game, and the fact that it ended in a coin flip made the result no less cruel, and such assignments of blame no less arbitrary.
    .
    That final moment was the only time the game’s dynamic took any decisive shift whatsoever, and even then, only a ticking clock was able to provide the impetus for such a change. Otherwise, these two teams would have traded blows and well-executed sets and spectacular shots into eternity, with no victor save any lucky enough to be a part of the process. Those of us on this side of the fourth wall certainly were, and with any luck, will continue to be so fortunate.
    .
    But all individual games must end, just as this series will eventually succumb to its own lamentable finality. In the meantime, the stage has been set for a fantastic arrangement of call and return — supposing that the Mavericks manage to maintain even a remotely similar form in the games to come. Let’s hope that isn’t such a naive assumption in hindsight, and that those engaged by the possibility for highly entertaining basketball aren’t made to be fools. We know what the Mavs are capable of, and sadly, we’ve come to know how little the Mavs are sometimes capable of. This matchup seems to bring out the best in them and the best in a beautiful game, but if this bittersweet day and this nearly canceled season haven’t taught us to take nothing for granted, I’m not sure what in this sport possibly could.
    .
    I honestly have no idea what’s coming, nor the slightest clue of how to conclusively use the information we have to even take a shot in the dark. Yet if nothing else, we have this night of near-makes and infinite possibility. The Thunder and Mavs won’t play again until Monday, and in that lapse we have the invaluable and immaculate gift of tomorrow. For now — even if not for a second more — there are no disappointments. There is only the promise of greater basketball to come, without worry for letdown or regression.
    .
    So rest up. Tomorrow’s a big day.

The Two Man Game’s Official Dallas Mavericks Versus Oklahoma City Thunder Official Western Conference Quarterfinals Preview for the Official 2011-2012 Official NBA Post-Season

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 27, 2012 under Commentary, Previews | Read the First Comment

Screen Shot 2012-04-27 at 5.51.08 PM

No series in this year’s playoffs better illustrates the gulf between winning and winnable; the Dallas Mavericks begin their postseason journey against a familiar foe, and although they hold the potential for a hugely significant upset, there is an auspicious lack of logical explanation as to why the series might actually unfold along those terms. Based on the evidence we have, we can’t write the Mavs off completely, and yet the Thunder are simply too good to not be penciled in for the second round on the basis of their far steadier — and noticeably more superior — play on both ends of the court. The playoffs always bring the potential for a reset and subsequent upset, but we can’t rightly expect either without even the slightest justification.

There’s reason to think that the Mavs might be competitive in this series, but we lack the magic bullet that could throw any predictions over the top. There’s a chorus for good reason; “Oklahoma City in six,” is the most reasonable outcome at this point, although there’s a distinct possibility of this series breaking in virtually any which way. We shouldn’t be surprised to see the Mavs push this to seven or lose in four; there are too many variables at work to have a good feel for how either team might play over the course of this series, leaving us with questions on questions and OKC’s far more convincing regular season exploits.

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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

Screen shot 2012-01-02 at 10.54.34 PM

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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