The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 101, Philadelphia 76ers 93

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 2, 2011 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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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 had an easy 22-point night and Jason Kidd threw together a triple-double on a whim, but this win was all about Jason Terry (30 points, 13-18 FG, 3-5 3FG). It apparently wasn’t enough for JET to stick to his regular fourth-quarter routine. He dropped eight points over a three-minute stretch in the second quarter. He put up 11 on perfect 5-of-5 shooting during seven minutes in the third. Then he capped it off with six more points in the fourth and threw a crucial assist to Kidd for a spot-up three. Terry couldn’t have been better, as he created points and benefited from Kidd’s passing to put together a pretty complete scoring game. They weren’t all jumpers, either; obviously the J is Terry’s weapon of choice, but he didn’t neglect driving opportunities on Tuesday night. Good on him.
  • Tyson Chandler (two points, five rebounds, 13 minutes) gave Mavs fans a panic attack when he came down awkwardly on his right ankle in the second quarter, but he was diagnosed with a sprain. Still not a good thing — there’s still no word on Chandler’s status for Friday. It could definitely be worse though, and the Mavs’ D isn’t capable of sustaining itself without Chandler at its focal point. Brendan Haywood (seven points, 3-4 FG, four rebounds) and Ian Mahinmi (zero points, zero rebounds, four fouls) are good players to be able to bring off the bench, but neither could perform so successfully in that prominent role. That said, Dallas did well defensively on Tuesday. Just don’t expect every opponent to have Andre Iguodala (15 points, 6-14 FG, seven rebounds, four assists) or Jrue Holiday (14 points, 6-15 FG, seven rebounds, six assists) around to be duped into taking jumpers.
  • Rodrigue Beaubois only finished with six points in just under 13 minutes, but he looked far more comfortable in putting his teammates in scoring position. Beaubois didn’t exactly rack up the assists, but he was making some nice one-handed feeds off the dribble (with both hands) to open teammates on the three-point line or spotting up from twos. Dallas had trouble hitting open shots all night, but during his stint, Beaubois nonetheless generated quality opportunities for players other than himself, which hasn’t quite been a constant.
  • Talented though Beaubois may be, there are still plenty of things that separate him from Terry and others. Within the context of the Mavs’ offense, one of them is screening; Dallas runs a lot of baseline action (and some at the elbow) in which guards are called upon to pick off Dirk or Shawn Marion’s man. Beaubois did a better job on Tuesday in that regard than we’ve seen in a long while, but he could still learn a lot from JET on how to set screens on players twice his size.
  • Dallas didn’t exploit it particularly well, but Nowitzki had this game under wraps. Philadelphia shifted more defenders his way as the game progressed — which no doubt helped Terry explode for 30 — but the Mavs also worked away from Dirk a fair bit despite his considerable matchup advantages. The 76ers seem particularly limited in the bodies they can throw at Nowitzki; Elton Brand doesn’t have the size, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes are poor post defenders, and the team tends to switch a lot of screens. That makes a pretty sweet cocktail that should have allowed Nowitzki to be the one with 30+, but the game just didn’t unfold that way.
  • Both Marion and Young did a good job on the glass; Marion finished with two offensive rebounds and 10 overall, while Young grabbed three offensive rebounds and seven total.
  • The Mavs didn’t make shots, but the execution was still a plus. Lots of good movement from Dallas, and Kidd did a fine job of getting the ball to cutters who found their slice of open space. Dallas made nine of their 11 first-quarter field goals in the paint (per @mavstats), and ended up with 40 points in the paint for the game. Of course the Mavs opted for jumpers at time, but there was little settling. The overall efficiency numbers don’t reflect the Mavs’ shot selection, but they were working for good looks throughout the night.
  • I’ve written before on the impact a limited, below-average player can have on a good team in the right setting, and Jodie Meeks (16 points, 4-7 3FG) fits into that mold quite perfectly. I wouldn’t say Meeks is a scorer. Not in Phily’s system, and likely not in any other. At the NBA level, he’s much more a spot-up/pull-up shooter, and overextending him would lead to a tremendous drop in efficiency. Yet Meeks can offer something that many of his teammates cannot, and he’s shot his way into a prominent role and a starting job as a result. Every good teams need players who can do what Meeks — and J.J. Barea, Ian Mahinmi, etc. — does: create a niche for themselves despite supposed redundancies.

Dallas Mavericks 99, Philadelphia 76ers 90: Abridged

Posted by Rob Mahoney on November 13, 2010 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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Any human anywhere will blossom in a hundred unexpected talents and capacities simply by being given the opportunity to do so.
-Doris Lessing

  • Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry combined to shoot 10-of-30 from the field, but the Mavericks were in control for the entire fourth quarter. Mark that glass as half-full, folks. Dallas managed 113.8 points per 100 possessions with both of their top scorers putting up duds. Caron Butler watched from the bench, too, just to properly test the limits of the Mavs’ depth. The rest of the Mavs picked up the slack, and while they didn’t shoot quite as efficiently, offensive rebounds and fewer turnovers cranked up Dallas’ total possessions.
  • In a nutshell, that’s the story of this game. Dallas was able to be tremendously successful on offense while going away from their most prolific scoring options. It was an uncharacteristic night in just about every regard. The Mavs are 28th in the league in turnover rate, and yet they kept their turnovers to a minimum. Dallas ranks 27th in offensive rebounding rate, but destroyed the offensive glass in this one. And, despite being ranked 28th in free throw rate prior to this game, the Mavs got to the line with regularity. All welcome surprises, but still a little odd.
  • The Mavs still refuse to put away their opponents early, though. This is the NBA (where every team eventually makes a run ™), but Dallas should be better than the slim lead they took into the fourth quarter. Dirk Nowitzki was reportedly a bit bothered by his tweaked ankle, but it’d be nice for the Mavs to get a little separation at some point regardless. Dallas’ point differential has been fine overall, but eventually they’ll need to build up a substantial lead and actually sustain it.
  • There were all kinds of heroes in this one. J.J. Barea provided a ton of fourth-quarter scoring and had a team-high 19 points. Brendan Haywood brutalized Philly’s bigs on the glass; he grabbed 17 rebounds, including nine on the offensive glass. Tyson Chandler was tremendously active, and he balanced a versatile defensive outing with good board work (12 on the night) and scoring (Chandler added 11 points). Shawn Marion had his second-straight super-efficient evening, as he chipped in 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Having an effective supporting cast in a November game against the Sixers may not convert the Mavs’ critics, but this is the kind of performance Dallas can build on.
  • Nowitzki didn’t just put up a clunker on the offensive end, but he was clearly hindered defensively. Dirk has never been a strong defender, but last night he was pretty miserable. Whether in man coverage or zone, Nowitzki gave up dunks, rotated slowly, and didn’t offer much help at all. I think it’s safe to say that Dirk won’t be getting the game ball.
  • Brian Cardinal hadn’t done much to warrant considerable playing time prior to this game, but he contributed across the board in this one. Five points, two rebounds, two steals, a block, and a three-pointer for Cardinal, who probably can’t be counted on to do much better. There will be games when Cardinal makes multiple threes or grabs a few more rebounds, but in total this was a notably effective performance.
  • Chandler did a good job in his individual matchup with Elton Brand, who finished with eight points (3-8 FG), nine rebounds, and three turnovers.
  • I’m still liking the usage of the zone with Terry and Barea in the game together. Jrue Holiday had a few embarrassingly easy drives after getting past that two-man front, but otherwise the zone minimized some of the Mavs’ other weaknesses.
  • However, don’t take that last statement as a claim of Dallas’ defensive success on this particular night. The Mavericks’ fourth-quarter defense was very effective (Philadelphia was held to just 15 points in the frame), but Dallas needs to rotate quickly for the entire game. I’m not sure there’s any justification to give up multiple open dunks to Spencer Hawes.
  • Jason Kidd came out ready to shoot, but his release was noticeably off tonight. Nowitzki and Terry are so consistent in their shooting that it’s tough to anticipate their shooting performance by their form alone, but Kidd’s seems to come and go. From his first three-point attempt something seemed askew, and sure enough, Kidd finished 3-of-10 from the field and 2-of-7 from distance.
  • Dallas’ offense was subtly sloppy for stretches in the third quarter. Kidd and Nowitzki couldn’t quite sync up on entry passes. Catches were bobbled, even if they didn’t always result in turnovers. Those kinds of minor errors don’t necessarily kill an offense, but in this case they certainly kept the Mavs from reaching their full offensive potential.