The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 112, Denver Nuggets 95

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 20, 2012 under Recaps | 11 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas99.0113.159.517.914.314.1
Denver96.047.024.111.113.1

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

  • Kenneth Faried (nine points, five rebounds) is a good player and an incredibly active defender, but he had the incredible misfortune of being pitted against a most dominant Dirk Nowitzki (33 points, 12-19 FG, 11 rebounds, six assists). What, precisely, would you have any defender do against Nowitzki at the top of his game — much less one with relatively limited NBA experience and far less matchup-specific experience? Dirk maneuvered too well to be blanketed, shot too accurately to be stopped, and passed too effectively to be doubled. Faried was damned before he even had a chance to consider his options, as Nowitzki triggered his usual array of fades and jumpers en route to one of his most spectacularly efficient performances of the season.
  • Dallas’ 33 assists were a season high, and the furthest thing from an empty total; the Mavs’ ball movement was the most successful and consistent force in this game, and sustained even during the roughest offensive stretches. The shots didn’t fall, but to the Mavs’ credit, they never abandoned the process. That commitment is more important than any series of makes or misses, wins or losses — it’s the backbone of successful offense, and that the Mavs are relying on a replicable formula to generate points bodes well for their future this season.
  • This particular matchup made for a fascinating watch due to the fact that size was a uniquely irrelevant factor. Nowitzki demands a certain size and length in defensive response, but Dirk aside, both teams were free to play whichever players gave them the greatest chance for success, regardless of the opponent’s configuration or traditional positions. The Mavs largely stayed “conventional,” if you could really term their usual lineups so ridiculously. The Nuggets, on the other hand, toyed with all kinds of combinations, most of which used Denver’s army of wing players in a futile (in retrospect, anyway) effort to get the jump on Dallas. Faried split time with Al Harrington as the only big on the floor for long stretches of the game, and though Denver couldn’t use their wing-heavy lineups to create any in-game leverage, it was still a hell of a sight.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 102, Denver Nuggets 84

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 16, 2012 under Recaps | 14 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas90.0113.352.527.530.212.7
Denver93.339.336.937.313.3

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

  • Shawn Marion (16 points, 8-14 FG, 10 rebounds, six assists) spent another game guarding a highly effective point guard, although this particular assignment may be his most unexpected yet. Ricky Rubio? Still unusual, but does make some bit of sense. Chris Paul? As a matter of necessity, Dallas needed to throw Paul off guard. But Ty Lawson (three points, 1-8 FG, two assists, two turnovers)? Marion should have struggled to stay in front of him, even with height and length providing theoretical counters. But he kept up, and when the Nuggets tried to free up Lawson with screens, the Maverick bigs did a terrific job of containing the speedy point man and preventing him from turning the corner with a burst. The sequestering of Lawson was a showcase of wonderful defense on pretty much every level — a smart (and unconventional) assignment, persistent on-ball defensive effort, and terrific, well-timed help.
  • Oh, and when Lawson wasn’t in the game, Marion guarded Andre Miller (zero points, 0-5 FG, two assists, two turnovers), too — just because he could, and because Rick Carlisle apparently likes embarrassing opposing point guards.
  • All of that said: Lawson and Miller were in a particularly tough spot, as both Danilo Gallinari and Nene missed the game due to injury. Any team can be devastated by injury to a key player, but “superstarless” outfits like the Nuggets are particularly vulnerable. Denver has a nice collection of overall talent and a style that fits the personnel well. But every single piece is an essential component of the formula; Gallo, Nene, Lawson, Miller, Al Harrington, Arron Afflalo…a system predicated on total balance risks going lopsided when any one of the pieces is removed from the equation. When two of those pieces are absent? It’s remarkably difficult for the rest of the roster as-is to compensate, a talented bunch though they may be.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 100, Minnesota Timberwolves 86

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 2, 2010 under Recaps | 4 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot Chart — GameFlow

    TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
    Dallas97.0103.147.120.723.914.4
    Minnesota88.741.522.022.017.5

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

  • The Mavs are a much better team than the Timberwolves, which unfortunately doesn’t make for compelling theater. There’s not much of a story for anyone to push in Dallas doing what’s expected of them; the Mavs kept their turnovers down, they didn’t make it easy for the Wolves by sending them to the line, and they blanketed a team that’s already limited offensively in so many ways. This is the way things are supposed to be in lesser teams, and while that may not impress the NBA world at large, I supposed there’s something of note in the Mavs handily putting away the opponents that aren’t on their level. Golf clap for an expected win, a pat on the back for seven straight victories, and let’s move right along.
  • For perhaps the first time all season, both Mavs centers were clicking. Tyson Chandler set the season-high in rebounding for Dallas this season with 18 boards, and added nine points (2-3 FG) for the hell of it. Brendan Haywood (seven points, 10 rebounds) was forced to sub for Chandler early thanks to a few unfortunate whistles, and though Haywood had a few decisions worthy of a good head scratch (at the 3:43 mark in the first, he abandoned his box out to chase a block against the already covered Kevin Love, and in doing so allowed Darko Milicic to slam home an uncontested put-back), he did a fine job in his 21 minutes.
  • There’s an interesting difference in the way we do and should evaluate the shooting of Jason Terry and Caron Butler. JET had a nice showing, but also drained a pair of step-back three-pointers that would have induced eye rolls had they come off of Butler’s fingers. It’s not just because Terry is a better shooter — which he certainly is — but that we know that Terry knows better. JET moves brilliantly without the ball. He seeks spot-up opportunities or smart pull-ups out of the pick-and-roll. He isn’t one to attempt doomed iso possessions repetitively, as he’ll willingly give up the ball because he understands that if open, it will find him. Essentially, those attempts, whether made or missed, are atypical rather than part of a depressing pattern.
  • To his credit, Butler had a nice night. He only contributed 10 points, but did so on eight shots while only committing two turnovers. It’s also worth noting that both of those turnovers came while trying to attack the basket, which sure beats the alternative.
  • DeShawn Stevenson had a surprisingly versatile third quarter. He hit a three, drew a shooting foul, attacked the basket, and threw two lobs to Tyson Chandler. One of those lobs resulted in Michael Beasley fouling Chandler, and the other went a little something like this:
  • Dallas actually shot better from three-point range (41.7%) than they did from two-point range (41.3%). Shawn Marion had gone 1-for-10 from three so far this season, but made two of his four attempts in this one. J.J. Barea is still struggling from distance (1-4 3FG), but still boosted his humbling three-point shooting percentage to 16.7%.
  • Jason Terry shot 50% from the field for the first time in seven games. Welcome back, JET.
  • Shawn Marion (16 points, eight rebounds) continues to thrive, though this night was a bit more inefficient than usual. He still had 16 points on 14 shots, but completed just 35.7% of his field goal attepts. One thing I’m loving about Marion this season: he’s far more decisive than he was last year. There’s no hesitation in his moves, and no attempt to turn each catch into some kind of dribbling diagnostic. He catches and goes, getting right by slower defenders like Kevin Love and catching some of his quicker opponents off-guard with his first step. It makes a world of difference.
  • Jason Kidd shot 2-of-11 from the field. He had four assists to just three turnovers. He shot 20% from three-point range, and contributed only five points. So naturally, because he’s Jason Kidd, he had a +14 raw plus/minus.
  • Terry is so good at tight-roping the baseline after foregoing a look from the corner. He doesn’t have the passing savvy to thread the needle to a cutter, but he regularly attacks that baseline to either find Dirk spotting up on the opposite wing or a three-point shooter open at the top of the key. On a related note: JET notched seven assists and just one turnover.
  • Brian Cardinal hit a pair of three-pointers in the third quarter, the second of which sparked this celebration from Dirk Nowitzki:

    Cardinal is already referred to as “The Custodian” and “The Janitor.” Is Dirk adding “The Truck Driver” to the list? “The Train Conductor?”

  • The down side to Dominique Jones’ D-League assignment? His absence in games like this one. I’m not sure how much garbage time minutes really facilitate his development, but it’s a nice blowout draw to see him out there even in a game that’s already been decided.
  • Dirk Nowitzki finished with 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting, and the Mavs win by 14. Even with the Wolves in the building, that’s a nice touch.
  • Aside from Wesley Johnson (2-3 FG) and Kosta Koufos (1-1 FG), every Timberwolves player hit less than half of their field goal attempts.