Running the Wave: New Blood

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on August 21, 2013 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

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With the new wave of players, the sense of excitement is palatable. With the American Airlines Center dormant for the first time during the playoffs since Mark Cuban took over the team, the Mavs made another attempt to reload their roster. There are some very intriguing names that have been added to the mix.

With the new players up for discussion again, the Two Man Game crew answers another question relating to them.

Once again, it’s time to run the weave.

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Money Talks

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on May 20, 2013 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

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The game of basketball has turned into the business of basketball. Players are still slowly learning that fact. Fans should understand that now. The 2010-11 Mavs are a great example of how business could get in the way of a good thing.

Dallas won the title that year and decided that it wasn’t a safe risk to “bring the band back” for another run at the title. Giving the core a chance to defend their title would have been enjoyable, but there was clear and reasonable logic behind the move the front office made. Mark Cuban has gotten a lot of heat for that decision, but the results of the playoffs this year suggest he was right for letting everyone go. As the Conference Finals are in motion, the Indiana Pacers’ Ian Mahinmi is the lone former Mav from the championship roster who still is playing.

Let’s look at what the Mavs would have theoretically had to do to bring most of the band back. Remember, Brian Cardinal and Peja Stojakovic are out of the league now. That leaves J.J. Barea, Caron Butler, Tyson Chandler, Jason Kidd, Ian Mahinmi, DeShawn Stevenson and Jason Terry. One guy to remember but won’t exactly be figured into this equation – Corey Brewer. He signed a three-year, $9,177,000 deal. He is now a free agent.

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Shooting for the Stars

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on May 7, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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The position evaluation continues. We will be looking at each position on the floor and determine where things went wrong and what needs to change or areas of need from each position. Again, names will be named soon.

The point guard position has been covered, and it is now time to evaluate the shooting guard position. With Jason Terry departing in free agency during the offseason, a scoring punch was a major necessity. Waiting things out ultimately worked in the favor of the Mavs as they were able to sign O.J. Mayo at a reasonable price.

While the position can be a dime a dozen spot, the Mavs have had quite the challenge of being able to have a capable and consistent person man the position. Like Darren Collison, Mayo provided a major source of optimism going into the season. A guard in his mid-20s coming into town with still untapped potential would make anyone excited.

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Fourth Round of Bloom and Doom

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on April 2, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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It’s time for another round of Bloom and Doom.

In an effort to keep the discussion going, I sought out ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon for his opinion on pressing issues for the Dallas Mavericks. You can view MacMahon’s coverage of the Mavericks at ESPNDallas.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @espn_macmahon. Periodically, we have touched base and discussed topics with our own unique point of view. It’s been a while, so it was necessary for us to reconnect and agree and disagree on a few subjects.

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 analyzes if Rick Carlisle is having the coaching performance of his career, which 2011 departure would fit best this year and other topics.

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Quoteboard: Dallas Mavericks 104, Boston Celtics 94

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 23, 2013 under Interviews | 3 Comments to Read

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The Dallas Mavericks were able to get a much-needed win over the Boston Celtics. A 104-94 victory over the Celtics ruined Jason Terry’s return to Dallas. The Mavericks never trailed against the Celtics on Friday (scored was tied four times). It marked the second time this season that Dallas recorded a victory without trailing at any point (also Jan. 14 vs. Minnesota). In the Mavericks’ 113-98 win over the Timberwolves, Dallas never trailed but the score was tied once (at 2-2).

Brandan Wright made his 13th start of the season (44th career) against the Celtics on Friday. In his 100th game with the Mavericks, Wright tallied a season and game-high 23 points to go along with a season-high-tying eight rebounds in 30 minutes. His previous high scoring game this season was a 16-point effort at Phoenix on 12/6. Shawn Marion returned to the starting lineup against the Celtics on Friday, after missing the previous eight games due to a left calf strain. Marion posted his 13th double-double of the season (417th career) with 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds in 31 minutes. Marion pulled down 10 of Dallas’ 26 rebounds in the opening half.

Dirk Nowitzki totaled 22 points and seven rebounds in 32 minutes against the Celtics. He scored 20-plus points for the fourth in his last six games (13th time this season). Nowitzki is averaging 19.4 points and 8.4 rebounds over his last seven games. He is shooting 54.3 percent (50-of-92) from the floor and 50 percent (11-of-22)  from deep in that span.

Some notes before the quotes:

- Wright’s 23 points marked the second-highest scoring game of his career (25 points vs. Philadelphia Mar. 20, 2009). It was also just the second 20-point game of his career and his highest scoring game as a Maverick (was 17 vs. Golden State Apr. 20, 2012). Wright pulled down eight rebounds for the fourth time in his last seven games (seventh time this season). He is averaging 12.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 24.3 minutes over his last 11 games. Wright is shooting 63.3 percent (62-of-98) from the field in that span.

- The game against Boston marked the first time since Mar. 12, 2008 vs. New York that Shawn recorded 10-plus boards in the first half of a game (10 rebounds). It was also the first time he totaled 10-plus boards in any half since Apr. 10, 2012 vs. Sacramento (10 boards).

- In his return to Dallas, Jason Terry scored eight points on 3-of-9 shooting with three turnovers over 21:57. He was minus-6 overall.

- The Mavericks announced after the game that they would not sign guard Chris Wright to another 10-day contract, ending his time with Dallas.

Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ win over Boston.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 104, Boston Celtics 94

Posted by Kirk Henderson on March 22, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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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.

  • This could easily be called “The Brandan Wright Game” (23 points on 11 for 16 shooting, eight rebounds). Though his best offensive game as a Maverick was exciting to watch, I remain impressed by his growth as a help defender and rebounder. Early in the season he would challenge anything within 15 feet of the bucket, often leaving his man for the offensive rebound. Wright’s much more selective in his challenges as of late, and it has helped improved the Maverick’s rebounding ability. His on ball defense has improved as well. In the fourth quarter, Wright made a brilliant strip/steal of Jeff Green on a fast break attempt that he passed to Darren Collison as he was falling out of bounds. Collison drove the length of the floor for a pull up jumper. That strip/steal is not a play Brandan Wright makes at the start of the season.
  • Considering how hard I’ve been on the shot selection of Mike James this year, I feel it’s important to note that this may have been his best game as a facilitator of the offense. Though he recorded only six assists (and one turnover) in his 25 minutes, he drove the lane looking to pass instead of shoot and many Mavericks, particularly Vince Carter, couldn’t seem to convert the nice set ups provided by James. Hopefully, the pass-first Mike James is here to stay for the remainder of the season.
  • Though Coach Rick Carlisle downplayed Dirk Nowitzki’s small number of shot attempts over the last three games, the Dallas announcers made it a point of discussion throughout the first half. Though it’s good that something as basic as shots doesn’t become an issue in the locker room, the Maverick players seemed to respond to the rumblings, looking to actually get their best player the ball. Dirk had 11 field goal attempts in the first half and finished with 22 points and seven rebounds.
  • The Vince Carter circus was in full effect against the Celtics, as he took and made a few shots that only a player of his talent can make. Arguably, his best play was a miss in the fourth quarter. Carter drove from the right side, faded towards the middle of the lane and in an attempt to draw contact he threw the ball up on the rim. It took a number of bounces and came off the left side of the rim. None of the Celtics bothered to box Brandan Wright out, who swooped in from the left side of the base line, caught the ball as it was coming down and emphatically dunked the ball as three Boston defenders looked on in frustration.
  • Though it feels silly to point this out every time it happens, some instances are so egregious they must be discussed. On the final Maverick possession of the third quarter, Darren Collison and Dirk ran a high screen and roll with Collison driving left. Collison stopped just past the elbow for a great shot fake, which got his man up in the air and pulled Dirk’s man in his direction. At this point, Dirk was at the top of the key with no one within five feet of him. Collison has to see him and pass him the ball. Instead, he missed a long jumper. That play is why Darren Collison will not be a starting point guard in the NBA. You have to know where your best player is and what his strengths are at all times.
  • In July of 2009 I remember being thrilled at the signing of Shawn Marion (the best free agent signing of the Dirk Nowitzki era). I also remember thinking that there was no way he’d be effective or worth his salary by 2013-2014. Now? Outside of Dirk’s he is the second most important Maverick. Against the Celtics, he put up 11 points and 13 rebounds, five of them offensive. Dallas went 5-3 in his absence, yet one can reasonably wonder how his presence would have changed the two close losses to the Spurs and Thunder. Is he worth $10 million next season? I’m glad I don’t have to assign a monetary value to his contributions because they’ve been nearly priceless the last four years.
  • Watching Avery Bradley play man to man defense is incredible. I’d like to think that every basketball player can be taught to play defense in this fashion but the truth is what Bradley does is a gift. Watching his feet and the angles he takes on ball handlers, it’s clear Bradley is operating on a different defensive plane.
  • Marion’s return meant at least one Maverick would be seeing less floor time. That ended up being Jae Crowder, who had played admirable basketball over the last eight games. That said, Crowder would be best served by being locked in a room all summer with game tape of Shawn Marion and early career Josh Howard. Crowder is an athletic specimen who is also pretty good at basketball. Unfortunately, he doesn’t use his athletic gifts near enough on the offensive end, often content to stand and shoot. Shawn Marion’s simple baseline cut and dunk off of a Mike James pass in the first quarter is a prime example of a basic basketball play that Crowder could make if he learned to better move without the basketball.
  • On Thursday, Andy Tobolowsky at Mavs Moneyball wroteAAC welcomes home one of its best, one of its brightest. The hero, the personality. The only guy who never knew, no matter the circumstances, that the game, the Mavericks, the dream of a ring were over years ago. Jason Terry, the only one of us who turned out to be right.” As the season has marched on, one thing that’s occasionally missing from the Mavericks seems to be confidence. Too often, Dallas tightens up when the game gets close late. Terry gave the Mavericks, and all of us, the belief that they could and would come through in any situation.
  • Elton Brand received his first “Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision” of the season against the Celtics. As TMG’s own Bryan Gutierrez notes, Carlisle is not above sending a message to his players, as he’s done time and again with literally the entire team. Brand’s had a rough go as of late, and this is hopefully just Carlisle’s way of letting Brand know he demands more. Expect Brand to respond well the next time he gets an opportunity.

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.

 

Setting the Table: Boston Celtics (Game 69)

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

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The Dallas Mavericks need a win in the worst way as they host the Boston Celtics. They can’t afford to start their do-or-die homestand with two consecutive losses. After missing the last eight games with a left calf strain, it appears Shawn Marion will be active for the Mavericks.

The big news is the return of Jason Terry to the American Airlines Center. This will be the first visit for Terry as an opponent after spending eight seasons with the Mavericks from 2004-11. Terry averaged 16.1 points, 2.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.2 steals and 32.7 minutes in 619 games (285 starts) with Dallas. “It feels good,” Terry said on walking back into the American Airlines Center. “It feels like home, as it should.”

Among Mavericks all-time leaders, Terry ranks 6th in points (9,953), 7th in assists (2,524), 6th in field goals (3,719), 2nd in 3-pointers (1,140), 8th in free throws (1,375), 7th in 3-point field goal percentage (.388), 6th in free throw percentage (.847), 5th in steals (735), 6th in minutes (20,219) and 6th in games (619). He won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award with Dallas in 2008-09 and was a member of the Mavericks’ 2011 title team. Does the nostalgia bring back enough feelings for him to shed tears tonight? “No, I shed tears when I had to leave,” he said. “So I don’t think I have any more left.”

He said it is tough to see his former team struggle because he’s still a “Mav fan at heart,” but he’s still disappointed on how things ended in Dallas. “You like to have a fight for what you earned and we didn’t get that opportunity,” Terry said. “But I mean it’s over now, we’re past that disappointment. And we had to move on.”

It’s evident that Terry will still be well-received when he comes into the game. “Well, he’ll get a great reception,” coach Rick Carlisle said on Terry’s return. “He’s one of the most beloved players I think in the history of this franchise because of his personality, his relationship with the fans and the community and he was a great player.”

Owner Mark Cuban took it one step further. “I hope (the fans) give him a standing ovation,” Cuban said. “He’s a Maverick for life, a part of the family.”

It will be an emotional night. Hopefully, it’s a good, entertaining game.

Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Celtics.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 96, Brooklyn Nets 113

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

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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.

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

Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on Twitter @KirkSeriousFace for ranting about Dallas basketball, TV, movies, video games, and his dog.

The Rundown, Volume XVIII

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 18, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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The Rundown is back. Every Monday (unless there’s a better feature to run with), The Rundown will chronicle the week that was for the Mavs, 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.

The end might be near for the Mavs as another back-breaking loss finished their week. Dallas is now four games back of the Los Angeles Lakers for the 8th spot in the Western Conference with only 16 games left. It might take a miracle for the Mavs to make it 13 consecutive playoff appearances. Let’s take a look at the week for that was for Dallas.

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Timing is Everything

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 12, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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You can look at what the Mavs have to do if team X, Y and Z have a certain record over their last remaining games. You can do that, but all that really matter is what the Mavs do on their own over the last 20 games of the season. Win as many games as you can and the rest will sort itself out. Dirk Nowitzki is firmly back and showing signs he can be the old Dirk that everyone remembers. O.J. Mayo has shown that he actually can be a creator and facilitator, despite what his coach said just over a week ago. Shawn Marion is still known as the defensive stopper for the team. Elton Brand is going to do his part to be the defensive anchor and a presence off the bench. Despite the team’s record, Vince Carter is going to continue to be a massive bargain for the Mavs by showing he’s one the league’s best reserves off the bench.

Dallas has an elite coach, veteran leadership and pride that they will rely heavily on as they make their final push for a playoff spot. There is one player though that could really put them over the top and really put their push into overdrive.

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