The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 89, Portland Trailblazers 81

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 17, 2011 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas81.0109.948.537.925.616.0
Portland100.048.511.827.516.0

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

  • The glory of Dirk Nowitzki’s late-game heroism surely isn’t lost in Dallas, but even those who expect Dirk to save the day on a nightly basis should take a moment to appreciate his impact at its most elemental. The instant recognition of a mismatch. The spin away from a double team. The awkward stumble transformed into a graceful release. Nowitzki may not have been perfect throughout Saturday’s game, but after a lion-hearted 28-point, 10-rebound performance, there should be no question of to whom the game belonged. Even after all of these years, these playoff runs, these brilliant games, and these fantastic, singular moments, Nowitzki’s basket-making, fist-pumping routine in the fourth quarter just never seems to lose its luster. Maverick fans have never felt championship catharsis, but it’s nights like this one that validate the viewing experience; Nowitzki is a giant in this game, and to see him at the height of his powers — as he was during an invaluable 16-point fourth quarter burst — is a distinct pleasure.
  • That said, the Blazers — particularly LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum — did a tremendous job of bothering Nowitzki as much as possible on the offensive end. Their defensive success didn’t quite last, but Nowitzki’s game-saving performance shouldn’t overshadow the fact that Portland pestered Dirk into an uncharacteristic six turnovers, and held him to 7-of-20 shooting from the field. This isn’t the first time Nowitzki has struggled against Portland, and it may not be the last; although Aldridge is no all-world defender, he has a skill set that makes him uniquely capable of taking on the role of Nowitzki’s primary defender. None of that stopped Dirk from dropping 28, but there’s no question that Nowitzki’s battle for efficiency will be ongoing.
  • This is a win to appreciate, but the reasons for concern were quite apparent. Dallas was as fantastic from three-point range (.526) as Portland was horrible (.125), largely because Jason Kidd (24 points, 9-14 FG, 6-10 3FG, four assists, five rebounds) caught fire and Nicolas Batum (14 points, 6-14 FG, 1-7 3FG) now only holds vague memories of what it’s like to be a three-point shooter. The shooting percentages of both players and both teams are likely to equalize, and though it’s not impossible to fathom that Kidd could be a reasonably effective scorer for the span of an entire series, relying on that idea seems like an especially dangerous proposition. Kidd’s scoring production will inevitably wane, and when it does, Dallas will need more than 10 points from Jason Terry and more than six points from Shawn Marion. The unpredictability of the Maverick offense can work in their favor on some occasions (Who would expect this kind of outburst from Kidd?), but not without a caveat of uncertainty; it’s not a matter of which supporting player will assist Dirk on a given night, but if one will at all. There are plenty of capable scorers on Dallas’ roster, but the reason why we applaud Kidd for his 24 points is the opposite of the reason why we applaud Nowitzki for his 28.
  • Additionally, Andre Miller (18 points, 7-13 FG, six assists, four rebounds) and Nicolas Batum had a lot of success in the post against the undersized Maverick guards. Playing Stevenson for nearly 20 minutes helped to hedge the impact of those guard mismatches, but their potential remains. Even if those opportunities result in just a few buckets, the balance in this series is so very delicate; Dallas and Portland both have an opportunity to tip the scales through subtler measures, and to get a handful of easy shot attempts every night could end up making a substantial difference.
  • Dallas still doesn’t have much of a counter for Aldridge other than Nowitzki’s off-setting scoring. Tyson Chandler had his shot, but Aldridge is able to work his way into prime position and bury hooks over Chandler’s outstretched arms. Brendan Haywood is more capable of battling Haywood in the post, but the fact that Aldridge scored over six more points per 36 minutes while Haywood was on the floor this season (per NBA.com’s StatsCube) is no fluke — Haywood is just as incapable of limiting Aldridge as Chandler is. Shawn Marion even got to try his hand in defending Aldridge on the block a few times, but one nice strip doesn’t change the fact that it would be a horrid matchup. The Mavs need to help against Aldridge as much as possible until they get burned, I fear for Dallas’ ability to keep their heads above water once Portland starts hitting their shots from outside.
  • The Mavs attempted 29 free throws in this one, a notable number made even even more so by the game’s low pace. There were only 81 possessions for the night, so Dallas’ 29 free throws convert into a 37.9 free throw rate, an elite mark by league-wide standards, much less by the Mavs’ own. Getting to the line has never been the Dallas’ strong suit, but Nowitzki’s ability to draw fouls turned out to be vital.
  • Gerald Wallace and Brandon Roy — deemed an x-factor and a difference-maker in this series, respectively — were non-entities. Wallace was active, but seemed phased out; his drives lacked resolve, and his activity on the court didn’t translate into any tangible benefit. Four of Wallace’s nine missed field goals were blocked attempts, a fitting tribute to just how oddly ineffective he was in attacking the basket. Roy had one of his rougher nights, the type of hiccup that has become all too common since his latest return from injury. This shouldn’t come as any surprise, nor should it deter us from still seeing Roy as an important player in this series; he may not be productive every game, but Roy has the potential to spark runs, to break the Mavs’ momentum, and to impact the game as either a scorer or a playmaker. As for Wallace, doesn’t a performance like this in a losing effort only reinforce his status as an x-factor?
  • To the Mavs’ credit, they were able to keep their turnovers to a reasonable level. Nowitzki picked up six on his own, but Kidd, Terry, and J.J. Barea only turned the ball over three times combined. Considering just how pesky the Blazers can be in the passing lanes and against ball-handlers (they ranked second in the NBA in opponent’s turnover rate this season), that’s huge.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 15, 2011 under xOther | 3 Comments to Read

Zach Lowe, SI’s The Point Forward: “To call this Dirk Nowitzki’s ”last ride” is obviously dramatic, but the future of this Mavericks team is uncertain. Jason Kidd is 38 and will be a free agent after next season along with Jason Terry. Tyson Chandler, the anchor of Dallas’ semi-revived defense, is a free agent after this season and plays the same position as Brendan Haywood, to whom Dallas has already committed more than $50 million. Caron Butler will be a free agent, Roddy Beaubois’ development has hit a snag, Shawn Marion is declining and Corey Brewer is at the edge of Rick Carlisle’s rotation. In other words: This team badly needs a playoff run now, especially after going out in the first round in three of the last four seasons.”

Jeff Caplan, ESPN Dallas: “The fact is that Nowitzki, 33, is one of the game’s premier playoff performers — one of four players in history to average 25 points and 10 rebounds — yet he is arguably the most underappreciated player in the game because his teams have failed to convert marvelous regular seasons into postseason parades. ‘I can’t really change peoples’ opinions. I’ll try to win it for me and to kind of top it off with the career that I’ve had. That’s why I’m trying to win it,’ Nowitzki said.’I'm not trying to win to shut anybody up. I’m trying to win for myself and this franchise, which really deserves it; for Cuban, who’s been amazing since he bought it, and for all my teammates. And if I don’t, it just wasn’t meant to be. The only thing that I can tell myself is that I left it all out there. Every summer I tried to get better. I play hurt. I play sick. I try to be out there for my teammates and for my team and ultimately win it all.’”

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: “A veteran NBA advanced scout gave us his breakdown of the two teams, and these are teams that he swears bear a striking resemblance to one another in that they have perimeter big men as their offensive anchors and crafty veteran point guards running the show. ‘The Mavericks definitely will play up and down more than any of Rick Carlisle’s teams in Indiana and even Detroit did in the past,’ he said. ‘Rick has definitely loosened the reigns since then. He’s still a guy that has a lot of sets and runs a lot of things. He lets [Jason] Kidd call his own plays and really lets them go. They run a lot more stuff in early offense. His Indiana teams he would slow them down and call plays, but not with this team. He really does let Kidd do his thing. And with [J.J.] Barea out there with Kidd, you have two ball handlers in the game, if the ball comes out to Barea, they’ll get into their transition game just as easily.’”

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The Official Two Man Game Official Dallas Mavericks Versus Portland Trailblazers Official Playoff Preview for the Official 2010-2011 Official NBA Post-Season

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 14, 2011 under Commentary, Previews | 27 Comments to Read

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Dallas’ playoff opponent is finally set in stone. Thanks to a Maverick win and Kobe Bryant’s ongoing crusade to burn the city of Sacramento to the ground, the Mavs will face off with the formidable Portland Trailblazers in the first found of the postseason. Rejoice, and be worried; this matchup is terrific for basketball fans but should be uncomfortable to the Maverick faithful, a conflict of identities for those who appreciate both the game and this particular team. We’re in for a fantastic series, but a hell of an opponent stands between Dallas and the second round.

The Mavericks are a better team than the Blazers by virtually every objective measure; win percentage, efficiency differential, point differential, Pythagorean win percentage, and the simple rating system all favor Dallas. In terms of their season-long numbers, the Mavs have outperformed the Blazers on both ends of the court, and enjoy all of the statistical trimmings that come with that superior level of performance. However, the fact that Dallas is a better team only matters tangentially. Playoff series’ are so much more dependent on the ways in which teams succeed than just how successful those teams are, a fact surely not lost on Mavs fans. This outcome of this series won’t be determined by determining the better team, but merely the more effective one given this specific matchup.

Dallas and Portland faced off four times during the regular season, but reading too much into the outcome of those four contests can be a bit misleading; the Blazers thoroughly dominated their latest game against the Mavs, for example, but Tyson Chandler’s absence hardly makes it a representative sample. The same can be said of the exclusion of Dirk Nowitzki and Brandon Roy in previous games, the mid-season acquisition of Gerald Wallace, and the unavailability of Caron Butler — we have four games’ worth of competition between the two teams, but little to speak of in the way of legitimate macro-level assessment.

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So instead, the most prudent way to predict the performance of both teams is to look at smaller factors which could potentially turn the series. In my eyes, Portland creates particular problems for Dallas through their combination of versatile forwards and sizable guards. LaMarcus Aldridge — who averaged 27.8 points on 51% shooting against Dallas this season — is a huge part of the problem, and acts as a catalyst of sorts for the Blazers to exploit the Mavs on a number of levels. Regardless of whether Marcus Camby is on the floor, Rick Carlisle has largely opted to defend Aldridge with either Tyson Chandler or Brendan Haywood. Carlisle’s decision is understandable; putting Dirk Nowitzki on Aldridge wouldn’t present any kind of advantage (and needlessly puts Dirk at risk for foul trouble), and Shawn Marion doesn’t have the size to contend with Aldridge in the post. That leaves Chandler and Haywood as the most logical defensive options, as both are long enough to contest Aldridge’s shot and strong enough to fight him for position down low. Neither has been tremendously successful in stopping Aldridge in the post thus far this season, but they provide the best theoretical counters considering the Mavs’ lack of alternatives.

If that potential mismatch in Portland’s favor isn’t enough, more problems start to arise when we weigh Aldridge’s other abilities. Not only is Portland’s new frontman skilled in operating from either block, but he’s a credible mid-range shooter and a constant threat to slip toward the basket for a lob. Aldridge’s combination of size, range, and mobility makes him an incredibly difficult cover, and with Dallas’ assumed defensive configuration, his ability to put up points is only the first of several concerns introduced by his very presence. Defensive rebounding is also a legitimate issue, as Aldridge is able to pull one of the Mavs’ strongest rebounders away from the basket by stepping out to the perimeter. That not only limits the rebounding impact of Chandler and Haywood while Aldridge is on the court, but opens up more opportunities for the Blazers — one of the strongest offensive rebounding teams in the league — to attack the glass. Dallas is normally strong on the defensive glass, but it’s no coincidence that some of their worst rebounding performances of the season have come against Portland (the Blazers grabbed more than 27.9 percent of available offensive boards in three of the four games, with the only outlier being the quasi-blowout in the most recent game).

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Even more problematic is what that same range does for Dallas’ defensive spacing. Every successful defensive scheme relies on bigs who are able to rotate from across the court and contest shots around the rim, but Aldridge’s ability to knock down an open 18-footer makes it far more difficult for Chandler or Haywood to leave him and rotate into the paint. Without consistent help on the back line (Nowitzki tries, but Dirks will be Dirks), the Mavs’ perimeter defenders are in trouble; one misstep could lead to an uncontested layup or a trip to the free throw line, and Jason Terry, J.J. Barea, and Rodrigue Beaubois certainly commit their share of defensive blunders. Plus, Aldridge’s ability to space the floor opens up the opportunity for the Blazer guards to set up against their undersized opponents on the block. Brandon Roy and Andre Miller are skilled post-up threats capable of both scoring and making plays, and together with Wesley Matthews and Rudy Fernandez, the Blazer guard corps towers over the Mavs’ backcourt.

Portland not only has that specific size advantage, but has shown in their last two games against Dallas that they fully intend to exploit it. Ultimately, the Mavs are put in a position in which fielding any of their crucial but diminutive guards — the aforementioned Terry, Barea, and Beaubois — invites an easy post-up opportunity for either Roy or Miller. The three-guard lineup is even more vulnerable, further limiting Carlisle’s rotational options. Terry and Barea will play, but we could be left pondering ways to keep them off the floor, particularly if either player fails to produce on offense.

Carlisle may adjust by redistributing minutes, but Corey Brewer and DeShawn Stevenson seem to be his only alternatives, and I’m not sure either is likely to actually play significant minutes. In a way, this is all an extension from last year’s playoffs: Terry is almost certain to be an on-court mainstay, and even more certain to be on the court to close games — even when his replacement makes intuitive sense. Last year, it was Beaubois, who ripped up the court in Game 6 against the Spurs before grabbing a seat prematurely, who could have replaced JET. This season, if Terry isn’t on his offensive game, it may make more sense for him to sit for defensive reasons. He isn’t uniquely responsible for Dallas’ potential defensive troubles, but he’s the undersized guard most likely to log the most playing time. The decision to slash the minutes of a player like JET is an immensely difficult one, and it may not even be the correct one. But those guard matchups could end up doing a lot of damage, and one can only hope that Carlisle has some counter — either in scheme or personnel — up his sleeve.

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For their part, the Mavs don’t have a unique matchup advantage other than the fact that they employ Dirk Nowitzki, and that as a team they have the ability to hit shots of all kinds with consistency. That last fact should be especially evident against Portland’s relatively poor shooting defense; for all their defensive versatility and long-armed wings, the Blazers rank 22nd in effective field goal percentage allowed. Dirk Nowitzki will have his work cut out for him grappling with Gerald Wallace and Nicolas Batum (among others), but I nonetheless anticipate him having an MVP-type series. There’s only so much a defender can do. Wallace and Batum are sure to put in good work on D, but Nowitzki is that efficient, that prolific, that deadly. Expect consistently excellent work from the block, the wing, and the elbow, as Dirk turns in more typically stellar postseason numbers.

Dallas’ perimeter shooters should also be in for a field day. According to Synergy Sports Technology, the Blazers rank 25th in the league in their defense of spot-up jumpers on a per possession basis, while the Maverick shooters rank sixth in their points scored per spot-up possession. This is where being a “jumpshooting team” comes in handy; spot-up jumpshots are a substantial part — 22.7 percent — of the Dallas offense, and happen to be one of Portland’s greatest defensive weaknesses. Let there be a turkey in every pot and a kick-out for every shooter — it’s gonna be a feast from the outside.

To hone in a bit: Portland ranks in the bottom 10 in three-point shooting defense — a big reason why both their points per spot up possession allowed and their opponents’ effective field goal percentage are so high. The Mavs have four consistent perimeter marksmen (Terry, Stevenson, Brian Cardinal, Peja Stojakovic) outside of Nowitzki, and any who sees the floor should find open looks with some regularity. The problem is how many of those shooters will actually see notable time; Stevenson could end up starting, but he’d been out of the rotation for a while before his unearthing on Wednesday. His role is uncertain, to say the least. Cardinal could be left off the playoff roster altogether if Rick Carlisle elects to bring Brewer along for the postseason, and even if Cardinal does make the playoff roster, Dallas rarely plays him and Nowitzki at the same time, which would limit his potential application.

Regardless, Terry, Stojakovic, Jason Kidd, and J.J. Barea should have room to fire from outside. They may not always convert (particularly in the case of the latter two), but those openings are nonetheless an important part of Dallas’ advantage. The opportunities will be there, so it’s on the usually efficient Mavs to hit their shots.

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Dallas shouldn’t have too much of a problem scoring, but they may have some issues in setting up a fluid offense. As counter-intuitive as that sounds, consider this: the Blazers are as good as any team in the league at creating turnovers, but as noted above, they don’t contest shots well at all. One shouldn’t expect some freewheeling Maverick attack, but once the ball gets to Nowitzki or Marion in the post (where they can either score or execute a basic kick-out), to a shooter off a curl via a Kidd assist, or to Terry or Barea to run the pick-and-roll, all should be right with the world. The problem is in the intermediary, those moments between the first and second options in a set where Kidd tries to thread an overly ambitious pass, Terry attempts to create off the dribble in vain, or a non-ball-handler ends up uncomfortably holding the rock as the shot clock dwindles. If the Mavs establish their play actions and work through them without trying to do too much, they shouldn’t have much of a problem on the offensive end at all. If they panic or rush rather than work through their options patiently, then Wallace, Miller, Matthews, and Fernandez will furiously swarm the ball like leather-eating piranhas.

With that in mind, this series feels like a shootout. Portland isn’t a particularly sound defensive team, and Dallas’ defense doesn’t seem poised to be particularly effective based on the matchup and their recent performance. The point totals may not soar due to neither team being a true fast-breaking outfit, but this is a series of offensive prowess unless the Mavs can prove otherwise. One defensive scheme isn’t enough, either; Nate McMillan is a smart, flexible coach, and he’ll have his players adapt to any single counter the Mavs utilize. Dallas will need multiple responses to both Aldridge and the Blazer guards, and somehow not neglect Wallace and Batum in the process. It’s doable, but difficult.

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Which is why I regretfully predict that the Blazers will win in seven games. It’s not an easy call; these Mavs are skilled and can theoretically execute on both ends. I just think Portland’s mismatches will prove a bit too problematic. I think Jason Kidd won’t be quite as effective as the Mavs need him to be. I think Dirk Nowitzki and LaMarcus Aldridge will both be tremendous, and the rest of both teams will be left to tip the balance. I think the Blazers can hide Brandon Roy too easily on defense, which lets him stay on the court long enough to cause a problem. I think Wallace and Batum may only hinder Nowitzki, but they’re capable of significantly limiting Marion. I think that there is a distinct possibility that the Mavs win this series, but there are just too many concerns to consider it the most likely outcome.

The Mavs are the better team in this series. Sometimes that just isn’t enough.

Here’s to hoping I’m wrong.

Light Switch

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 8, 2011 under xOther | Be the First to Comment


Video from the Mavs, natch.

The Difference: Denver Nuggets 104, Dallas Mavericks 96

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 7, 2011 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas91.0105.551.916.334.917.6
Denver114.352.316.328.615.4

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

  • All things considered, the Mavs did not play poorly. They merely played one half relatively so. The natural temptation is to pin the outcome of this game on that decisive 10-2 sprint that Denver used to finish out the game, but the initial 24 minutes mattered far more than the final two and a half. That kind of letdown was unfortunate considering how resilient Dallas had been in the second half until that point, but the Mavs put themselves in a position to lose this game with their defensive follies in the game’s opening half. Tactical errors were part of the problem (Dallas was really blitzing screen-and-rolls in the first half, which Denver exploited with excellent ball movement), but the larger issues were in execution; the Mavs were scrambling all over the place, and that almost obscured the fact that Dallas’ defenders were losing track of ball-handlers and cutters left and right. Things tightened up in the second half, but there was a reason why Denver was shooting well from the field at the end of the first half.
  • This game does, however, come with it’s own built-in excuses, should the Mavs choose to lean on them: Jason Kidd sat out this game in order to rest for the playoffs, and Tyson Chandler is still nursing a minor injury to his lower back. Chandler’s absence was certainly a factor in the way Dallas performed on the defensive end, but it’s not as if Brendan Haywood (19 rebounds, eight offensive boards, five blocks) was dead weight. Haywood looked charged to be a starter again, and though his rotations just don’t quite measure up to Chandler’s, Haywood was doing everything he could to stop the Nuggets inside. It just wasn’t the same, and it wasn’t enough. Chandler alone wouldn’t have guaranteed the Mavs a win, and that’s precisely the point; Dallas got a lot out of Haywood, and had plenty of other things go right. But unless they can work out some of the kinks in their play on both ends, Dallas’ playoff run is going to look a lot like this game. (Note: I explored a similar theme for the Daily Dime. See Box #2)
  • The good news: Corey Brewer logged nearly 20 minutes of action, and played some tremendous basketball. It wasn’t just defense, either; Brewer did his work by jumping passing lanes, defending on the ball, and hustling back to contest shots in transition, but he also nailed spot-up jumpers and finished a few drives. Brewer certainly isn’t a player without weakness, but he performed quite well offensively on this particular night, and his play warrants serious consideration for a role as a rotation mainstay. However, as Carlisle knows and Mavs fans will soon find out: those corner threes and shots from the short corner won’t be falling every game.
  • Shawn Marion (21 points, 10-14 FG, 10 rebounds, four offensive boards) was a terrific on offense. He eventually got pulled late in the game for some lazy defense, but Marion was a worthy second fiddle, scoring on runners, post-ups, and second chance opportunities. He was the first to every loose ball on the offensive end, and between his efficiency and Haywood’s offensive rebounding, the Mavs very nearly pulled together a win. That’s what the game’s all about, people: maximizing efficiency on a possession-by-possession basis, and giving your team as many possible possessions to utilize.
  • Rodrigue Beaubois (six points, 2-7 FG, one assist, four turnovers) had an opportunity to initiate the offense on a more consistent basis, but had a hard time consistently creating for his teammates. There was a bit of trial and error, which is to be expected, but I do think the entire experience should remind everyone of exactly what it is that Jason Kidd does. Any point guard can make passes, but Kidd makes perfectly placed ones. Even on days when he only registers six or seven assists, he places the ball so well with his teammates that it forces defenses to react in a particular and overt way. Beaubois can run through the sets, doing more or less the same things that Kidd does, but when it finally comes time to make that pass, or find the cutter, Beaubois just isn’t as able. Kidd makes his fair share of turnovers and mistakes, but even with the giveaways piling up, Kidd nonetheless retains the ability to make those perfectly placed passes.
  • Related: Should these two teams meet in the first round of the playoffs (and that remains a distinct possibility, given how well the Thunder are playing and how many losses the Mavs have picked up lately), Kidd’s influence would be considerable. Denver forces a ton of turnovers, and uses those steals and deflections to create fast break opportunities to fuel their offense. Kidd may take risks, but in his stead, Beaubois, Jason Terry, and J.J. Barea combined for 12 giveaways. That’s a huge swing in the Nuggets’ favor, and one that wouldn’t be quite so glaring had Kidd suited up.
  • Though the Mavs did pay the price for their pick-and-roll coverage at times, Dallas’ ability to keep Ty Lawson (nine points, 3-12 FG, eight assists) under wraps was impressive. Lawson has been performing at an All-Star level since the Carmelo Anthony trade, but he wasn’t a significant offensive factor on Wednesday night. Denver can adjust to that situation better than any other team in the league (Raymond Felton simply stepped up when needed, and the Nuggets on the whole showed off some beautiful passing), but it’s certainly positive to see Dallas defend a capable, lightning-quick point guard well.
  • Meanwhile, Dallas’ own waterbug was splitting double-teams and slicing to the rim. J.J. Barea had a hell of a game off the dribble, and though Beaubois was technically starting in place of Jason Kidd, it was Barea who ended up with the ball in his hands for most of the game. That strategy seemed to backfire when Barea committed a costly turnover with just two minutes remaining and the Mavs trailing by four, but 12 points on 12 shots from Barea to go along with 10 assists is a nice return. The aforementioned four turnovers hurt, but Barea was creating off the bounce, a skill that grants him a unique value in the context of this team.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 91, Phoenix Suns 83

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 28, 2011 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas90.0101.144.020.232.016.7
Phoenix92.243.117.527.916.7

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

  • The prevailing storyline of this game should be — and is, for the most part — centered around the Mavs’ defense. Dallas’ first quarter D was embarrassing, and particularly so on pick-and-rolls and in transition, which just so happen to be the most elemental aspects of the Phoenix Suns’ offense. Rodrigue Beaubois had quite possibly his worst defensive showing of the season, and his blunders in defending the pick-and-roll were enough to erase the memory of him bothering Monta Ellis. Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki were hardly excused from blame though, and honestly it’s hard not to fault any Maverick on the floor. The Suns shot 13-of-23 (13-of-19 if you exclude their three point attempts) for the frame, and Steve Nash had seven assists in that quarter alone. Dallas turned it around, though. They put a lot more pressure on Nash as the game wore on, and actually rotated effectively beginning with the start of the second quarter. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the Mavs’ D was in top form. The ball was taken out of Nash’s hands, and each attempt by Grant Hill, Jared Dudley, Aaron Brooks, or Vince Carter to create was met with a strong defensive front. The Mavs will still have plenty to talk about in the film room, but overall the defensive turnaround was pretty astounding.
  • Related reading: Sebastian Pruiti’s breakdown of the Mavs’ pick-and-roll defense on NBA Playbook.
  • If only the offense were on-point. Although both Nowitzki and Jason Terry hit some big shots in the fourth, the Mavs struggled on offense to a truly ridiculous degree. Dallas alternated fits of turnovers with well-executed sequences ending in errant shots. The only savior? Offensive rebounding. The Mavs grabbed a rebound on over 32 percent of their misses, which when paired with their trips to the line and occasional makes, came up with just enough points to top the Suns. It’s only natural that when the defense starts functioning again the offense loses its luster.
  • One more saving grace: Jason Kidd. The Mavs may not need Kidd to be a scorer nightly, but when he’s committing turnovers and not really setting up his teammates, they do need him to do something. On Sunday, that something was scoring (and timely scoring at that, as Kidd made two huge catch-and-shoot threes last in the fourth) and defense. There’s no magic number of assists or points, but Kidd has to find ways to be productive when he’s struggling in other areas.
  • See what happens when Tyson Chandler can stay on the floor for 38 minutes? He had a sub-par first quarter, but ended up with 16 points and 18 boards, all while anchoring Dallas’ defense through the final three quarters. Chandler’s more than occasional foul trouble is a pretty big problem for the Mavs, and if they had to worry about his availability in addition to their other issues, it’s likely that Dallas would have lost this one. Brendan Haywood played reasonably well in his limited court time (he had four rebounds in a block in seven minutes), but Chandler is just in a different class.
  • As good as Chandler was, Marcin Gortat (20 points, 8-13 FG, 15 rebounds, four turnovers) had himself a game. Of course, most of his damage came off of pick-and-roll action in the first quarter; Gortat dropped 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the opening frame. From that point on, Gortat attempted just four field goals and committed four turnovers, which really speaks to the defensive work the Mavs did on Nash in the final 36. Limiting Nash’s options cuts off access to finishers and perimeter shooters, and though Gortat had a nice array of open layups and dunks in the first quarter, Dallas saw an end to that with ball pressure and sharper rotations.
  • J.J. Barea had a strange night. No Mav could match his dribble penetration, and Barea typically found a quality shot attempt for himself or a teammate at the end of his drives. Yet he ended up shooting 3-of-13 from the field, even though nearly all of his attempts were within reason. His five assists are nice, but that shooting percentage doesn’t quite do Barea’s play justice. It was just one of those nights where the shots — jumpers, layups, runners, everything — weren’t falling for him, even though his decision-making was sound.
  • I have no idea how Josh Childress ever fell out of the Suns’ rotation. It’s not just a nice, tidy 12-point, three-rebound, two-assist, two-block showing in this game, either. Childress is a player any team would be lucky to have, and though his unconventional offensive game makes him more difficult to fully utilize than a typical three-point marksman, slasher, or post-up threat, his combination of skills, smarts, and defensive ability make him a terrific addition.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 104, Minnesota Timberwolves 96

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 25, 2011 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas94.0110.654.114.124.416.0
Minnesota102.153.812.517.518.1

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin, give or take a dozen or so considering the ridiculous scoring margin of this game.

  • 50 wins is a big deal or something, right? Seriously, though: Savor these incredible seasons. I know everyone within the Maverick organization will downplay the significance of 11 straight 50-win seasons, but it’s a remarkable accomplishment and has been an incredible gift to this fan base. Title or not, good basketball is good basketball, and that’s been the Mavericks’ #1 export for a little over a decade.
  • Anthony Randolph, who had been in hibernation for the last 10 months, was roused from slumber to thoroughly dominate a would-be contender. Last I checked, this isn’t the way it’s supposed to work. With Kevin Love out, the Mavs were supposed to go about their business and check out with a ho-hum, double-digit win. They weren’t supposed to allow a player without a meaningful basketball performance in months completely tear apart their defense from inside and out. Dirk Nowitzki couldn’t stay with him. Tyson Chandler wouldn’t step out far enough to contest his jumper. Shawn Marion was undersized around the basket. No Mav could stick Randolph, and though he’s admittedly a unique basketball specimen, let’s just mark this game down as another blemish on Dallas’ defense. Good on Randolph for his new career highs (he finished with 31 points, 14-20 FG, 11 rebounds, three assists, and two turnovers, for the record), but this — and the fact that Randolph’s night wasn’t the sole representation of Dallas’ defensive problems — doesn’t bode well for a team entering the playoffs in a matter of weeks.
  • The Mavs’ offensive execution wasn’t that bad. Not where it needs to be, mind you, but certainly not deserving of substantial criticism. The turnovers are still a bit too high, but quality attempts were there all night. That’s to be expected when facing the league’s 25th ranked offense, but it still deserves a note considering how poorly the Mavs shot from the field. Dallas made just eight of their 25 field goal attempts in the first quarter, including a horrendous 1-of-11 mark from three-point range. That shooting normalized as the game went on (and really, had already done so by halftime, as the Mavs shot 13-of-19 in the second quarter), but Dallas’ shooting numbers were sandbagged by the dead weight of that first frame.
  • Fine, fine work by Shawn Marion (17 points, 8-14 FG, six rebounds, two steals, two blocks) and Peja Stojakovic (16 points, 6-10 FG, 4-8 3FG, four rebounds) on the offensive end. Both were dynamite in their movement without the ball, and the Wolves’ defenders often got lost on curls and cuts. When Marion and Stojakovic can function this efficiently, it gives Dallas a brutal level of offensive versatility. They won’t both be rolling every night, but their performances in this one weren’t merely indicative of Minnesota’s defensive lapses; this was solid offensive play. Dirk Nowitzki (30 points, 12-26 FG, 11 rebounds, four assists) and Jason Terry (18 points, 7-12 FG, three assists) did their thing, but the former is expected and the latter is unsurprising. Enjoyed every high-arcing jumper nonetheless, but this is just what Dirk and JET do.
  • An interesting wrinkle to the Corey Brewer situation we saw manifest itself last night: when healthy, Dallas doesn’t even really have room for him on the active roster. Last night’s 12-man roster: Kidd, Beaubois, Marion, Nowitkzi, Chandler, Terry, Stojakovic, Haywood, Barea, Mahinmi, Cardinal, Stevenson. Brewer has been able to rock the warm-ups lately because of minor injuries to Marion and Stojakovic, but when both are active, I’m not sure where exactly Brewer fits at the moment.
  • Not a great night for some of the other Maverick regulars, but let’s dig for the silver lining amidst all the gloom naturally emanating from this game. Rodrigue Beaubois finished with just three points on 1-of-5 shooting, but did make a handful of nifty passes (several of the around-the-back variety), even if he doesn’t have the assists to show for it. Tyson Chandler didn’t have a great game, but he neared double-double territory while playing some nice defense in the second half. Jason Kidd had 13 assists and six rebounds, and isn’t that enough, really? J.J. Barea picked up six assists in 16 minutes, Brendan Haywood played passable basketball, and DeShawn Stevenson got to step on the court for four seconds of actual game action.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 101, Golden State Warriors 73

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 21, 2011 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas93.0108.650.026.325.016.1
Golden State78.538.318.213.017.2

You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin, give or take a dozen or so considering the ridiculous scoring margin of this game.

  • It’s hard to ask for more in a bounce-back game. The Mavs completely smothered a solid offensive team, they cleaned the glass, got quality shot attempts all around, Kept Monta Ellis (18 points, 7-18 FG, four assists, three turnovers) and Steph Curry (11 points, 4-12 FG, six rebounds, six assists) relatively quiet, and contested the hell out of everything. Wins against the Warriors only mean so much, but Dallas needed this game, and more importantly they needed a performance as dominant as this one. It’s hopefully only the beginning of a renewed commitment to defensive detail.
  • Not only do the Warriors lack even a single notable defender to counter Dirk Nowitzki (20 points, 9-15 FG, six rebounds), but they no longer even have a pesky, high-risk defender (a la Stephen Jackson) to cause problems with speed and active hands. David Lee was visibly frustrated in trying to defend Nowitzki, and the other defenders Golden State threw at Dirk probably should have been frustrated. Lou Amundson, Ekpe Udoh, and a handful of others had their shot, and not one of them did a passable job of defending the Mavs’ headliner. (One exception: Udoh’s on-ball block on a Dirk jumper early in the fourth quarter. A good play, but not exactly consistent with the Warriors’ total body of work in defending Nowitzki in this one )
  • Tyson Chandler (seven points, 17 rebounds) and Ian Mahinmi (nine points, 13 rebounds) were both glorious, which is the kind of thing that tends to happen against poor rebounding teams without competent defensive bigs. No sign of Brendan Haywood, but it didn’t matter in the slightest; Chandler and Mahinmi did excellent work on both ends of the court, and their rebounding totals speak for themselves. Standing O for the Maverick center corps, even if Haywood just had a view from the sidelines.
  • Peja Stojakovic (17 points, 6-11 FG, 5-8 3FG) had a tremendous game, largely because his threes were falling. Stojakovic made a trio of three-pointers in the first minute and a half of the third quarter, despite the fact that he hadn’t played since March 7th. Good on him for coming out guns a’blazing. That said, a game like this one speaks to how random Stojakovic’s good and poor games really are. There are plenty of nights when Peja is a non-factor, and he leaves the game with only a handful of shooting attempts. However, often the only significant difference between this kind of showing and his 2-of-8 nights is the outcome of his attempts. Stojakovic doesn’t really force shot attempts, meaning that those shots he does take are typically open ones. On Sunday, those shots fell. In other games, they won’t. But how does Rick Carlisle go about getting production from an offense-only player (or on another level, how does Carlisle decide when to play Stojakovic and when to pull him) whose most significant offensive flaw is the fact that he can’t make every shot? Stojakovic may be limited, but he stays within himself, so much so that his production is almost entirely reduced to the open three-pointer make-miss binary.
  • I find Udoh’s defensive potential incredibly intriguing, but the guy just isn’t an NBA-ready offensive player. He can grab the occasional bucket off a cut or offensive board, but he doesn’t have any kind of high or low post game and isn’t even a serious pick-and-roll threat. Even for a team that so badly needs his defensive impact, that’s a problem.
  • Good to see: Dallas had no intent to give up easy looks inside. The Mavs contested well even when various Warriors got all the way to the rim, and in the cases when the back line was out of position, the Maverick bigs took hard, limiting fouls.
  • This was fun:
  • I can’t remember the last Warriors game I saw in which I though Golden State utilized Reggie Williams as much as they should. Williams had a nice run during the Warriors’ D-League call-up rush last season, but on a healthy roster Williams tends to get lost in the shuffle. Their loss.
  • Nowitzki did a pretty nice job of hedging on pick-and-rolls, which isn’t exactly a staple in his game. Dirk isn’t the most mobile big around, but he was able to stall Monta Ellis in a potentially dangerous situation long enough for a perimeter player to recover. Claims of Nowitzki’s defensive ineptitude are still largely hyperbolized, but it’s still nice to see him deter a Maverick-killer like Ellis from turning the corner on screens.
  • Dallas played a good offensive game against Golden State, but not a great one. That said, it’s good to see this team get to the free throw line with notable frequency, grab plenty of offensive boards, and execute for good attempts. The turnovers could still stand to go down and the shots didn’t always fall, but this was a pretty sound offensive outing.
  • Rodrigue Beaubois (15 points, 5-11 FG, four rebounds, four assists, five turnovers) has done an outstanding job of putting pressure on opposing defenses in the last few games. Beaubois can become a bit passive for stretches, but he wasn’t settling for step-back threes or mere spot-up attempts in this one; drives into the paint were commonplace, and from that point Beaubois was creating scoring opportunities at the rim or kicking out to his teammates for open jumpers.
  • One note about Beaubois’ abilities as a drive-and-kick player: his kick-out passes tend to sail a bit. The accuracy is there, but by lobbing those passes a bit more than he should, Beaubois negates some of the impact of his drive and wastes precious time in the open shooting window for his teammates. Even a bit more arc on those feeds allows defenders time to adjust and contest, so bringing those kick-out passes down a bit could go a long way in picking up Beaubois’ passing effectiveness.
  • All you need to know: there were sequences in this game in which Vladimir Radmanovic was used as a token center. I know Andris Biedrins was out with injury and David Lee had foul trouble at times, but once you’ve reached that point in the rotation, why bother with convention? Throw another wing out there and see what happens. Worst case scenario, Dorrell Wright or some other forward gives up buckets inside. Best case: you might be able to cut into that deficit with hot shooting, or even be able to shoot Tyson Chandler off the floor if he doesn’t chase his man all the way to the three-point line. Radmanovic is no answer, regardless.
  • Dallas does more odd defensive cross-matching than any team in the league. It’s certainly not uncommon to see a given team swap coverage among PG-SG, SG-SF, or PF-C, but the Mavs are the only team that regularly pits their starting point guard — Jason Kidd — against opposing small forwards with regularity. Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler are constantly flipping coverages to pit Chandler against the greater offensive threat, and Carlisle switches up Beaubois, Kidd, DeShawn Stevenson, Jason Terry, and J.J. Barea all the time. PER allowed by position may be more irrelevant for the Mavs than any other players in the league.
  • An odd sequence with 32 seconds remaining in the first half: David Lee attempts to back down Beaubois from the wing, but makes no progress whatsoever after a few seconds’ work. Incredible, right? Well, it’s less so after a closer inspection, as Beaubois appeared to be giving Lee a double arm-bar to the back, the bane of post players everywhere and — as I understand it — an automatic foul.
  • To the Mavs’ credit, one of their greater defensive successes for the evening was limiting Golden State’s explosive scoring potential. Basketball is a game of runs and all that, but the most notable spurt in the Warriors’ favor was an 11-2 burst toward the beginning of the second half. That’s a victory to take on a purely independent basis; the overall defensive execution was marvelous, but to quash every run is pretty spectacular on its own merit.
  • The Warriors may have been a great landing spot for Al Thornton (eight points, 2-7 FG, four rebounds, two turnovers) in terms of a team that’s able to artificially inflate his stats despite limited minutes, but I’m not sure a style that facilitates his ability to take quick, poorly chosen shots is the best thing for his development as a player. Horrible shot selection was already among Thornton’s vices, and life as a Warrior certainly hasn’t done much to change him.
  • A few weeks into his Maverick career, I still don’t see Corey Brewer’s incredible defensive ability. He’s certainly effective on that end, but I see nothing to demand time on the floor, particularly when he’s — as Corey Brewer is ought to do — airballing three-point attempts from the corner.

The Difference: Los Angeles Lakers 96, Dallas Mavericks 91

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 13, 2011 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas89.0102.245.315.132.614.6
Los Angeles107.947.620.526.710.1

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

  • Dallas had a tough time converting the good shot attempts they snuck by L.A.’s defense, and certainly didn’t help their chances with a handful of cringe-worthy defensive breakdowns. Yet at every turn the Mavs stayed within a competitive range. The Mavs could certainly do far worse than stay with the best team in the league step-for-step, even if the scoreboard was less than favorable by the final buzzer. The effort was there and the execution was solid, but the Mavs aren’t going to win many games against this good of an opponent when their top four guards shoot a combined 11-of-34 from the field. The Lakers played some excellent D, but they weren’t responsible for Rodrigue Beaubois’ missed jumpers, Jason Terry’s blown opportunities, or Jason Kidd’s unfruitful three-point attempts. This was a very winnable game for the Mavs, and their proximity to victory stands for reasons more legitimate than their slim scoring deficit.
  • This is the second game in a row where Shawn Marion (25 points, 11-20 FG, 12 rebounds, seven offensive rebounds, two blocks) has been the best player in a Maverick uniform. On Thursday, Marion did a phenomenal job of defending Carmelo Anthony (who shot 5-of-15 on the night) while dropping 22 and 8, and Marion followed up that performance by reprising his role as a defensive virtuoso (against Kobe Bryant, who finished 6-of-20 from the field) and thoroughly dominating the offensive glass. Dallas went to Marion in the post repeatedly against Bryant, Ron Artest, and others, and Marion was able to score from the block regardless of opponent. On the occasions when the initial hook didn’t fall, Marion followed his shot for a tip-in. Marion shot 20 field goal attempts on the night, and on 15 of those attempts he either made the shot or followed it up with an offensive board. Just incredible work.
  • Unfortunately, Marion’s efforts were countered and then some by the work of the Lakers’ frontline, primarily due to a stellar game from Andrew Bynum (22 points, 9-12 FG, 15 rebounds). He may not be the most consistent interior threat, but Bynum thrived as both a primary post option (against sizable opposition in Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood, no less) and on mop-up duty. Pau Gasol (18 points, 6-14 FG, five rebounds) offered some nice support inside with his usual array of sweeping hooks, and Ron Artest (12 points, 5-8 FG, eight rebounds) added rebounding and efficient low-volume scoring. L.A. won this thing in the paint, and Bynum’s ridiculous effectiveness was the primary reason why.
  • All of which diminishes the impact of Dirk Nowitzki (25 points, 10-19 FG, 10 rebounds, six assists), perhaps unfairly. Nowitzki played a fantastic game, but Marion was more impressive and Bynum more dominant, which puts Dallas’ star in the odd position of being the other big playing effective ball. Still, Nowitzki’s all-around offensive game was, as usual, something to behold. He dropped his trademarked mid-range fadeaways, but also acted as a drive-and-kick player at times; twice Nowitzki drove past smaller defenders and passed out to an open three-point shooter after drawing in the defense, and both of those sequences ended with a make from a corner shooter. Nowitzki was outmatched at times defensively when forced to cover Bynum on a switch, but it’s hard to argue with elite offensive production at such an efficient clip.
  • It’s certainly worth noting that Kobe Bryant suffered a hell of an ankle sprain around the two-minute mark in the third quarter. Bryant was stripped by Marion as he launched upward for a jumper, and came down very awkwardly — and painfully — on his left ankle upon returning to the floor. Bryant called a timeout and left for the locker room, clearly hobbled. He would later return, but it was a heavy moment; according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, Bryant initially worried that his ankle injury was a season-ender and said he was “scared s***-less.” That didn’t stop Bryant from making some critical plays for the Lakers in the fourth quarter, but if the swelling doesn’t come down it could significantly limit him in the coming weeks.

Toxophilite

Posted by Ian Levy on March 10, 2011 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

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Ian Levy is the author of Hickory High, a contributor to Indy Cornrows, and a part of The Two Man Game family. He’ll be bringing his intelligent brand of — mostly quantitative — analysis here on a weekly basis. You can follow Ian on Twitter at @HickoryHigh.

The Boston Celtics received plenty of attention earlier this season when their team FG% was sitting above 50%. This focus was certainly deserved; in the last 20 years, only 10 teams have finished a season shooting better than 50% from the field. Only two teams have done so in the last decade. Unfortunately, the Celtics’ shooting has fallen off slightly since that point, and now sits below the threshold at 49.3%. That percentage is impressive even it falls short of a nice, round benchmark, but even Boston’s strong shooting shouldn’t overshadow another remarkable shooting performance by the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavericks are second in the NBA — trailing only the Celtics — with a FG% of 47.6%. That puts Dallas 1.7 percentage points behind Boston. If we look at eFG%, which factors in the extra point scored on a three-pointer, the gap between the two teams closes to just 0.2 percentage points. The thing that separates the two teams (and ultimately puts Dallas in front) is the difficulty of their shots.

Hoopdata calculates a field goal percentage measure called “expected field goal percentage,” or XeFG%. Shots from different locations have different difficulties: the league average FG% on a shot at the rim this season is 64.0%, the average FG% on shots from 16-23ft. is 39.5%, etc. XeFG% uses the league average FG% from each shot location and a team’s own average shot selection to calculate the field goal percentage the team would be expected to shoot. My own work on Expected Scoring at Hickory-High is an extension of this idea.

For example, the Charlotte Bobcats have an eFG% of 47.86% this season. The Minnesota Timberwolves have an eFG% of 48.00%. Only 0.14 of a percent separate the two. However, Charlotte’s XeFG% is 50.8%, two full percentage points higher than Minnesota’s 48.8%. Charlotte’s XeFG% is much higher than Minnesota’s because they take 10% more of their shots at the rim then Minnesota does. Although their eFG% is almost the same, looking at the XeFG% shows us that Charlotte is having a much worse shooting season than Minnesota because they are taking easier shots and should therefore be making more of them.

Hoopdata also expresses this idea of “more or less than they should” by calculating a simple ratio, eFG% divided by XeFG%. Here’s where we return to Dallas. When we look at this Offensive Ratio (eFG%/XeFG%) the Mavericks are leading the league at 1.07, Boston’s ratio is 1.05. Hoopdata has this same statistic available for the previous four seasons and over that stretch I could only find four other teams with an Offensive Ratio of 1.07 or higher. I’ll give you hint: It was the same team each season and they play within a four-hour drive of the Grand Canyon. If you guessed the Portland Trailblazers then you need to look at a map.

The thing I found most interesting is how Dallas has been able to accomplish this elite shooting performance on an very different shot distribution from the Phoenix Suns. The table below shows the percentage of each team’s shots which came from each location.

TeamSeason% At the Rim% <10ft.% 10-15ft.% 16-23ft.% 3PTXeFG%eFG%Offensive Ratio
Phoenix2006-200731.3%8.8%8.0%23.3%28.7%50.7%55.15%1.09
Phoenix2007-200831.0%10.0%8.5%24.2%26.0%50.3%55.13%1.10
Phoenix2008-200936.7%13.8%8.3%19.4%21.6%51.0%54.51%1.07
Phoenix2009-201031.7%11.2%8.6%22.4%26.1%50.4%54.57%1.08
Dallas2010-201125.4%13.0%10.9%23.6%27.0%49.4%52.59%1.07

The Phoenix Suns made this list each season by making a ton of the shots everyone expects to make: three-pointers and layups. Dallas has made this list with an incredible shooting performance on mid-range jumpers. 47.5% of the Mavericks’ shots this season are coming from the space between 3ft. and 23ft. away from the basket. The closest Phoenix came to that was in 2007-2008 when 42.7% of their shots were neither at the rim or from behind the three-point line.

When you think of the Mavericks excelling in the mid-range game, Dirk Nowitzki quickly comes to mind. Although he’s an exceptional mid-range shooter, he doesn’t deserve all the credit for the team’s shooting performance this season.

  • Rodrigue Beaubois, Ian Mahinmi, Peja Stojakavic, Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion are all shooting better than the league average on shots from 3-9ft.
  • Dirk Nowitzki, J.J. Barea, Jason Terry, Ian Mahinmi, Rodrigue Beaubois and Tyson Chandler are all shooting better than the league average on shots from 10-15ft.
  • Dirk Nowitzki, Peja Stojakavic, DeShawn Stevenson, Tyson Chandler, Jason Terry, Dominique Jones and Ian Mahinmi are all shooting better than the league average on shots from 16-23ft. Sasha Pavlovic and Caron Butler were also above the league average before they left the Mavericks due to ineptitude and injury respectively.

Altogether the Mavericks attempt 39.1 shots per game from that 3-23ft. space. 28.5, or 72.9% of them are coming from players who are above average shooters from that location. The quantity of players who are shooting well is striking but so is the variety. The list of names above includes players who fill significant minutes at all five positions. The ability to have nearly anyone on the floor knock down a mid-range jumper gives the Mavericks a tremendous amount of offensive flexibility.

I usually make an effort to abstain from unsupportable hyperbole, but I can’t help myself. This may be one of the best jump-shooting teams in history. 17 of the top 40 players in NBA history in terms of three-point field goals made are still active. Jason Williams, Baron Davis and Jamal Crawford all make the list, which takes some of the shine off this discussion. Still, 4 of those 17 who are still active play for the Dallas Mavericks, including three of the top 10. As I mentioned Hoopdata, only has shot location numbers available for the last few seasons so it’s tough to make a statistical argument on the mid-range abilities of teams predating that cut-off. Regardless, the numbers tell me the Mavericks have shooters everywhere and my eyes tell me those shots are going in like never before.