Where Are They Now?

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on September 10, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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The free agency period is pretty much over. Scratch that. The free agency period is almost over. The Dallas Mavericks announced on Tuesday the signings of Fab Melo, D.J. Kennedy and Richard McConnell to expand the current roster to 18 players. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein was the first to report in the Mavs’ interest in Melo, the 22nd pick in the 2012 NBA draft.

With 15 players under contract but 18 on the roster, it’s important to remember that they can take up to 20 to camp. They don’t have to get down to 15 until just before the season starts. Most teams like to take 15-20 players into camp to allow veteran players a little easier of a path through the rigors of camp. An added sense of competition for the end of the roster players isn’t a bad thing, either.

There may be a few more names that pop up in the next few weeks, but the next big date is Sept. 30 (media day). That means the machine is getting ready to roll again for another new season. While there is still a little time left, I wanted to take a unique look at free agency. There are nine names on the list of remaining free agents that have direct ties to the Mavs. It’s interesting to see how they joined the Mavs and what has happened to them since they left the team.

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Quoteboard: Dallas Mavericks 109, Los Angeles Clippers 102 (Overtime)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on March 27, 2013 under Interviews | Read the First Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks had their most impressive victory of the season with a 109-102 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Mavericks moved to 2-8 in overtime games this season. They also beat a top-5 team in the West for the first time since they beat the Memphis Grizzlies on Jan. 12. Dallas must have gotten a blood transfusion leading up to the game as it appears they now have alligator blood running their veins. Breaking the rut that seemed to haunt them all season long, the Mavericks found a way to execute when they needed to and got clutch performances out of Dirk Nowitzki and OJ Mayo.

Nowitzki tallied a season-high 33 points to go along with a team-high nine rebounds in 39 minutes against the Clippers (previous high: 30 vs. L.A. Lakers Mar. 24). Chris Paul, who finished with a season-high 33 points, hit a potential dagger basket with 5.3 seconds remaining in regulation. OJ Mayo got the ball along the baseline and had Paul defending him. Mayo spun away from the second defender and found daylight for an easy layup, forcing overtime. Mayo actually used Paul’s aggression against him as Paul over-committed and sacrificed the baseline and the easiest path to the basket.

Mayo went 5-of-15 from the field for only 11 points, but stepped up with some incredible defense on Paul. The point guard for the Clippers was still able to break through but he had to earn everything he got against the Mavericks.

Some notes before the quotes:

- Dirk Nowitzki passed Patrick Ewing (24,815) for 17th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with a jumper at the 8:51 mark of the first quarter. The basket gave him four points for the game and 24,816 for his career. Nowitzki finished with 33 points against Los Angeles and now has 24,845 career points. Jerry West ranks 16th all-time with 25,192 career points.

- Nowitzki went 12-of-21 from the field against the Clippers on Tuesday. With his 11th field goal of the game (8,694th career) at the 4-minute mark of overtime, he passed Elgin Baylor (8,693) for 20th place on the NBA’s all-time field goals made list. Nowitzki now has 8,695 career field goals. Gary Payton ranks 19th all-time with 8,708 career field goals.

- Lamar Odom got the business from the fans. He was booed every single time he touched the ball.

- The Clippers went 10-for-22 on 3-point baskets through three quarters. They went 0-for-11 on three-pointers in the fourth quarter and overtime.

- With the win, Dallas is now one game back of the the Los Angeles Lakers for the 8th spot in the Western Conference. They are also one game under .500 for the first time since Dec. 14.

Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ potentially season-changing victory over the Clippers.

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Judging Happy

Posted by David Hopkins on January 29, 2013 under Commentary | 3 Comments to Read

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“I am displeased, Morg. You have destroyed one of my creations. Such an act is my decision, not yours. You have overstepped your bounds.” – Galactus, Devourer of Worlds

I’m not usually one to quote Spurs coach Greg Popovich, but I love his response to David Aldridge during a sideline interview. Coach, how happy were you with the shot selection? Popovich quipped, “Happy? Happy? ‘Happy’ is not a word we think about in the game. Think of something different. Happy? I don’t know how to judge happy.”

Popovich makes a good point. How do you “judge happy?” Is it one of Hollinger’s advanced statistics that I haven’t heard of yet? But sports analysts do treat “happy” like a stat. We measure “ happy” and consider its weight and effect on the game.

I’ve found myself wondering if Chris Kaman is happy right now—according to this report from ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, not very. I contemplate how his unhappiness will affect the team. Will his “lack of happy” cause him to get traded? Does Rick Carlisle even care about Kaman’s happiness? The correct answer is probably not, and nor should he care. The Mavs are trying to win games, not maintain the happiest franchise in professional basketball. (Tangent: Which franchise do you think is the happiest right now? My guess is the Clippers. They seem like a happy bunch.)

We get so worried about “ not happy,” because we associate it with players not performing to their potential. Unhappy players become a nuisance in the locker room. Unhappy players start fights, get coaches fired, and leave the franchise in a lurch. Unhappy players look like Lamar Odom in a Mavs uniform. No one wants that.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 89, Los Angeles Lakers 115

Posted by Kirk Henderson on November 25, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First 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.

  • It would be incredibly easy to simply chalk this loss up to excellent shooting by the Lakers (48.8%) and horrid shooting by the Mavericks (37%). The shooting played a part, yes, but the Lakers did a phenomenal job of exploiting every single weakness of this Dallas team.
  • With Shawn Marion (10 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals) covering one of the league’s best in Kobe Bryant (19 points, five assists), O.J. Mayo guarded Metta World Peace (19 points, six rebounds) and clearly he took his assignment too lightly. MWP hit his first open three with Mayo nowhere in sight, followed that up with a pair of driving layups, and then hit another three Mayo challenged late. World Peace scored all ten points in the first four minutes of the game. That lack of attention to detail set the tone for Dallas for the remainder of the night.
  • Dallas cannot find a way to effectively guard the pick and roll as of this point in the season. Recently, Carlisle has opted to have the big man, usually Chris Kaman (four points, three rebounds), show high on the pick and roll to slow down the ball handler.  Unfortunately, he does not have the lateral quickness to recover when the opposing screener rolls or slips the screen,  forcing a rotation from the baseline which essentially breaks down the entire Maverick defensive structure.  When that screener is someone like Pau Gasol (13 points, nine rebounds, three assists) it wreaks havoc on the Dallas defense as there is often not anyone to protect the rim when these defensive rotations occur.
  • To be fair to Kaman, he’s not the only Dallas big man who is having this issue. Elton Brand (four rebounds, one assist) and Troy Murphy (two rebounds) are all well past the point to where they can consistently recover on a constant barrage of pick and rolls. Brandan Wright (six points, one rebound) and Bernard James (seven points, five rebounds, four blocks) are each much better about showing and recovering, but Carlisle has been reluctant to use them for larger stretches.
  • I’d like to be wrong about this, but it seems as if Darren Collison (two points, four assists, four turnovers) is always shocked when he runs into a screen on defense. One and a half minutes into the game he was knocked down by a Dwight Howard (15 points, seven rebounds, five steals, two blocks) screen that Elton Brand was clearly calling out. Collison seems to get hung up on most of the screens set by opposing offenses. Pair that with the Dallas big men being unable to recover fast enough, and we see Dallas getting exploited in the paint with alarming regularity as of late.
  • The Lakers marginalized Collison, as he shot one for ten from the floor and made some silly turnovers in the process. The Lakers limited his ability to penetrate on the right side of the floor with his strong hand where he is most productive. As a result he mostly able to penetrate on the left side of the floor with his off hand where he was often met by Dwight Howard and had to adjust his shot accordingly. Collison’s outside shots were mostly uncontested and they simply wouldn’t fall.  Oddly enough, this season Collison has been brutal in the 10-15 foot range, shooting 24%.
  • The Lakers picked up the Dallas ball handlers just after half court with intense pressure, seeming to dare the Maverick guards to drive.  The result was that Dallas struggled to get into their offense in a timely manner. Collison, Dominque Jones (two points, three assists), and Rodrigue Beaubois (eight points, six assists) all acted as if they hadn’t dealt with half court pressure before.
  • Dallas also has an offensive screening problem.  I need to see more film, but O.J. Mayo (13 points, three rebounds) does a very poor job coming off screens to get the ball out of initial offensive sets. In theory, one is supposed to run one’s man into the screener by running off him, even rubbing shoulders with the screener if need be. It’s how someone like Ray Allen can play into his late 30′s.  Mayo often (but not always) runs without purpose, and the screener is often forced to step towards his man, which is a great chance to pick up an offensive foul. Mayo needs to run his man into the screener so he can have more time once he catches the ball on the wing.
  • The fault doesn’t purely lie with Mayo, however.  Outside of Bernard James, the current Dallas bigs are not excellent screeners. This is one area Dirk does not get near enough credit for, and one area where he’ll help immediately upon his return (that he’s able to roll, slip, and flare for the league’s prettiest jump shot also helps in that area).
  • Not to keep picking on Mayo, but his inability to operate out of a pick and roll where he is the primary ball handler is confusing. Though he only accounted for two turnovers, I counted four separate occasions where he attempted to split a hedge trap from the Lakers, only to fall over, dribble off someone’s foot, or make a bad pass.
  • Part of this can be attributed to the Laker defense and some can be attributed to Mayo trying to force the issue since Dallas was down big.  But this isn’t the first game I’ve seen this.  I was confused by the “hero ball” in the Golden State overtime loss; Mayo scored all of his points in transition or playing one on one, there was no chance of a two man game.  Mayo will have to get better at working out of pick and roll opportunities in order to thrive in Carlisle’s offense.
  • It’s a bit odd that Vince Carter(16 points on ten shots) has become a stabilizing influence off the bench. There were times last year where I’d cringe as he’d enter the game.  Carter helped make the game seem manageable in the first quarter with five points coming within the flow of the offense. He was the only guard who had no trouble dealing with the Laker defensive pressure early in the game.
  • The Laker defense was tremendous, particularly in the paint.  Though Dallas actually committed fewer turnovers than Los Angeles (15 to 19), Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol changed so many shots in the paint they effectively became turnovers. Go look at the shot chart again. The Mavericks had to earn every point in the lane.
  • Elton Brand’s lack of shooting touch is bordering on “Lamar Odom in 2011-2012″.  Last year, Brand shot about 45% from three feet all the way to just inside the three point line.  This year he’s struggling from the ten feet to three point line range, shooting just 13-46 for the year.
  • He missed two free throw jumpers early in the first quarter, each wide open.  If Brand is able to hit those shots, he changes the way the Lakers defend.  Without Dirk, the only player who has shown himself capable of hitting that 15 footer is Brandan Wright (of all people), and he usually does so while moving towards the bucket.  I really do think Brand figures it out, but it’s so painful to watch and he’s an offensive liability at the moment.
  • Speaking of liabilities, there has to be some sort of explanation as to why Troy Murphy saw fourteen minutes tonight.  He did not match up well with any member of the Lakers front court defensively and Pau and Antawn Jamison (19 points, 15 rebounds) simply owned him.  The theory on offense is that he adds some aspect of a stretch four. While he has hit 10 three’s this season, seven of those came in two games; the other seven games Murphy is 3-19 from deep. Until Dirk comes back, we should start seeing more Wright and Sarge and less Murphy.
  • Jae Crowder (15 points, four rebounds, four steals) was one of only four Mavericks to not post a negative plus-minus.  Considering all thirteen Mavericks saw at least ten minutes, this is fairly impressive when one factors in the blowout.  His spot up shooting has been solid, but I’m more impressed by the way he attacks the rim. Most of the Dallas players seemed to dreading contact tonight whereas Crowder seemed to relish in it.
  • I’d be curious to know if Crowder’s shot selection is by design. As you can tell from the shot chart, he takes most of his threes from the free throw line extended area.  It’s challenging for teammates to establish position for offensive rebounds as missed shots from that angle can go a variety of places even if its an on target shot. Given that corner threes are the most efficient three point shot, I’d expect to see him taking more in those locations.
  • Chris Kaman is the lone Maverick who can consistently score with his back to the basket. Tonight as the game wore on, he clearly became frustrated by the Laker defense and drifted farther and farther away from the goal.  Five of his eleven shots came from 15 feet or more from the rim.  Kaman has to force the issue and get to the foul line against talented front lines if Dallas hopes to establish consistent offense.
  • While you can count me among those who think Brandan Wright needs more playing time, its clear why he doesn’t get time.  In his thirteen minutes, he grabbed one rebound.  Wright tries to block some shots which he won’t get to, thus putting himself completely out of rebounding position.  In the fourth there were a couple of occasions where he wildly tried to block a shot only to see his man get an offensive rebound and put back.
  • On ESPN Insider David Thorpe characterized Bernard James as “a legit shot-blocking specialist” after a series of games where Sarge saw time and made an impact. James blocks shots from guards which are made in an attempt to avoid a shot blocker entirely.  His timing and effort were fantastic and he was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise horrible night.
  • That the Lakers were able to put up 115 points without Steve Nash is impressive. The Lakers got 107 points out of their top eight rotation players. Antawn Jamison in particular dominated, with 19 points and 15 rebounds. His 12 defensive rebounds were two less than the entire Dallas starting five.
  • Dwight Howard played an impressive game and yet he still looks fairly slow.  Well, slow for him. With Andrew Bynum out until further notice, the gap between Dwight Howard and any of the other league’s centers is so wide it doesn’t matter if Dwight is only at 80%.  I expect Howard will continue to regain his explosiveness as the season moves along. If that happens and D’Antoni actually opts to use Dwight in pick and roll situations the league is in trouble.
  • The clear difference in the first match up between these teams was the free throw shooting; Dallas shot 14 of 18 while LA managed 12 of 31.  The Lakers managed to nearly double that number tonight, shooting 23 of 34.  The Mavs, on the other hand, struggled mightily, shooting 12 of 22. Particularly strange was the Jae Crowder-Dominique Jones combo shooting zero for seven from the charity stripe. Both players have earned minutes in the rotation, but not hitting free throws is one way back to the bench. Dallas has to hit their free throws against top tier teams.
  • It was nice to see Roddy Beaubois contribute, even in a blow out.  He’s not seen much time as of late, and to dish out six assists and eight points in around eighteen minutes is a good sign, particularly after not playing in two of the last three games.
  • Why Laker fans insist on wanting to trade Pau Gasol is beyond me. He’s easily one of the best pivot men of a generation. Outside of Dirk, there is not another modern European player who has been better. He’s been slow to get going, but I fully expect Pau to have an All-Star caliber season.

Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family.  Follow him on twitter @KirkSeriousFace 

Blue and White

Posted by David Hopkins on October 18, 2012 under Commentary | 6 Comments to Read

Blue, White, Blue.

David Hopkins is a freelance writer — a regular contributor to D Magazine and Smart Pop Books. Follow David on Twitter at @davidhopkins.

———-

“Are you sure it’s okay for me to wear Jason Kidd’s jersey?”

My wife April has asked me this question about three times now. She loves basketball. She knows the game. But April is still leery about jersey etiquette. I reassured her that people still love Kidd, and it’s very respectable to wear the jersey of a former player… as long as it’s not Bruno Sundov. That’s just weird.

I bought the Kidd jersey for $8 as the pro shop purged their warehouse, before shipping the lonely remnants to Central America.

Thus, the benefits of Jason Kidd leaving:

  1. Cheap jerseys
  2. The Mavs’ fast break will no longer look like when the P.E. coach tells the stoner kids to hustle.
  3. I don’t have to give a damn about his DWI.

April wanted a Kidd jersey ever since our first game together, when she pointed from our upper-deck seats down to the old man with the ball. “I like him. He’s all business.”

April has good instincts. She foresaw the greatness of Tyson Chandler in 2010 while I was still weighing the benefits of Brendan Haywood. And she gave up on Lamar Odom months before I did.

We were going to the Mavstoberfest event to see the Blue vs. White scrimmage. She wanted to wear her new jersey, and I saw no crime in it.

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Take Aim

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 29, 2012 under Commentary, Roster Moves | 6 Comments to Read

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After a quick shuffle of third parties, the Mavs again appear ready to jettison Lamar Odom’s contract westward (and in a way, homeward); as originally reported by Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News – and later clarified by Brad Turner of the LA Times – Dallas will deal Odom in a four-team trade that will also move Mo Williams to Utah and the draft rights to Furkan Aldemir to Houston, while scoring the Mavs a trade exception, cash, and an additional $2.4 million (the price of an Odom buyout) in sweet, sweet salary cap savings.

That brings the total savings of the past 24 hours to (roughly) a cool $3.8 million, between ditching Odom, trading Kelenna Azubuike, and saving on the rookie scale difference between the 17th pick and the 24th pick. There’s no need to hash out the specifics of the Mavs’ cap number until we get a better idea of what might become of Jason Terry, Jason Kidd, and a slew of minimum salary players that currently have cap holds against Dallas’ total, but we have the pleasure of watching first-hand as Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban take their quarters to the free-agent slot machine.

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Tessellating Pieces

Posted by Ian Levy on April 13, 2012 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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There are just under two weeks and seven games left for the Mavericks before the end of the regular season, time enough for a seemingly infinite number of potential outcomes. While a playoff berth is anything but assured (gulp), it seems like Dallas will at least be present in the first round to begin a title defense in the postseason proper. A year ago, the Mavericks finished the regular season by winning four in a row, then systematically built themselves into a seamless juggernaut through a series of progressively more astounding playoff victories.

Although they don’t have the same components that completed last year’s title run, there still exists on this roster all the raw materials to build a similarly potent contraption. Over the last three and a half months, each of Rick Carlisle’s attempts to rebuild this machine have been derailed by injury, inattention, and periods of inexplicable individual futility. However, the nature of the project has changed with the departure of Lamar Odom.

Odom represented a large and potentially powerful piece of the puzzle, and until it was announced that he and the team were parting ways early last week, there was simply no question of his inclusion. Now that he’s out of the way, the slate is cleared and the job can be begun anew. No more accommodations or allowances need be made; Carlisle has 13 days to dabble and experiment, try new looks and new orientations, and decide what this team will look like when the playoffs finally, and hopefully, arrive.

Here are a few chemistry experiments Carlisle might be interested in trying.

TWIN TOWERS

Odom’s absence leaves a void in the Mavs’ front court, and judging from the two games since, Brandan Wright will be helping to fill that space. On Thursday night against the Warriors, Wright spent most of his playing time strictly as a center and backup to Brendan Haywood. He played admirably in this role crashing the glass, scored on found possessions, and did his best against the wily David Lee. However, on Tuesday night, we had the opportunity to see a few minutes of Wright on the court alongside Ian Mahinmi, which to me is a much more tantalizing possibility.

Mahinmi and Wright have alternated this season in playing backup center minutes, lifting fans with the athleticism and effort, before grounding them with their inexperience and lack of awareness. However a Wright/Mahinmi combo offers some the potential to be a devastating combo if deployed in the right situation.

The two have played just 37 minutes together for the entire season, but some very positive things have happened in those minutes. With both on the floor the Mavericks have posted a Defensive Rating of 77.2, holding their opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 35.7 percent. Stretched (and stretched they would be; 37 minutes isn’t much of a sample size) across an entire season, those numbers would be the best in the league by a wide margin. When Wright and Mahinmi are on the floor together, the Mavs have a total rebound percentage of 56.0 percent with an offensive rebound percentage of 37.5 percent –and accomplished all that defensive and rebounding dominance at a pace of 97.7 possessions per 48 minutes.

That said, having both players the floor together presents some serious problems. Offensive spacing would suffer dramatically, and polished post players like Andrew Bynum, Zach Randolph, and both Gasols would eat either Wright or Mahinmi alive. However, against an athletic up-tempo team like the Thunder, Spurs or Clippers, Wright and Mahinmi could help the Mavericks keep pace, disrupt pick-and-rolls, defend the rim against penetration, and control the glass. Games against the Warriors and Trail Blazers might be the time to try this combo out for an extended period of time and see what it might offer for spot duty in the playoffs.

THREE GUARDS

Small-ball lineups featuring multiple ball-handlers have been a staple of Carlisle’s cross-matching rotations the past few seasons. Vince Carter has played plenty of small forward this year, but what I’m really talking about here is some three-man combination of Delonte West, Jason Kidd, Rodrigue Beaubois and Jason Terry. The one that intrigues me the most would be the West-Beaubois-Terry grouping — that trio hasn’t played a single minute together this season, and while they present the most potential problems at the defensive end, they also present the most interesting combination at the offensive end.

If the playoffs started today, the Mavericks would be matched up in a series with the Los Angeles Lakers. Even with the addition of Ramon Sessions, the Lakers would have struggled against quick, athletic penetrators. West-Beaubois-Terry would allow the Mavericks to keep the floor spaced, attack from multiple angles, and put pressure on Gasol and Bynum to defend the rim. It could end up being a disaster, but almost every other combination of players has been tried by Carlisle this season. With seven games left, it might be worth giving this one a look to see if there’s anything there.

YINSANITY

I realize this suggestion may cause me to get laughed off the internet, but I think Odom’s departure may also make room for Yi Jianlian to make a meaningful contribution in the playoffs. Yi is best known for the disparity between his production against chairs and his production against NBA players, but he does have a few legitimate basketball skills; he’s a solid rebounder, can move the ball on offense, and most importantly: is a consistent shooter. Although he’s shooting just 38.0 percent on the season, Yi is averaging 1.03 points per possession on spot-up possessions. Looking again at that potential Lakers matchup, it would be nice to be able to keep Gasol away from the rim, and open space for the second unit when Dirk is on the bench. He’s certainly a liability defensively, but no more than Peja Stojakavic was last season, as he was busy shredding the Lakers from the perimeter.

Statistical support for this story from NBA.com.

Ian Levy is the author of Hickory High, a contributor to Indy Cornrows and HoopSpeakU, and a part of The Two Man Game family. You can follow Ian on Twitter at @HickoryHigh.

All of Our Black Hats

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 9, 2012 under Commentary | 16 Comments to Read

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The Lamar Odom era in Dallas may have been short and bitter, but his failures this season have secured a historical standing as this organization’s greatest instance of missed opportunity. Steve Nash’s departure was a calculated decision that was not at all unfounded. The 2006 Finals were a golden opportunity, but ended with a run-in with the supernatural. But Odom’s downfall in Dallas (now cemented by a mutual agreement by Odom and the Mavs to part ways) wasn’t a product of betrayed reason or an encounter with the divine. It was solely a shortcoming of men, and an unfortunate — if common — triumph of flaws over circumstance.

Odom has had a rough run — in life, and certainly of late — but it was his introversion that did him in this season. He surveys the interior of his head with the same scrutiny that focuses his ever-impressive court vision, but a man can only peer through darkness for so long before it starts to take him. There are surely others who would have taken Odom’s situation in stilted but continuous stride, yet with this specific combination of events and this specific man, it was all a bit too much.

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The Difference: Los Angeles Clippers 94, Dallas Mavericks 75

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 3, 2012 under xOther | 5 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

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

  • Jason Kidd missed Monday’s game — and is sidelined for the next three, as I understand it — with a groin strain. That’s a bummer, but it’s a valuable opportunity for Delonte West to quickly work himself back into game shape. It’s a trial by fire (or by burn?), sure, but getting a fully effective West back into the regular rotation is a top priority at this point. Dallas needs his shot creation, shooting, and defense badly, and although West was brilliant on Friday against Orlando, Monday was perhaps a more accurate reflection of his game.
  • Rodrigue Beaubois struggled even more mightily. Rick Carlisle seems fully prepared to take the bad with the good when it comes to Beaubois, but it’s these kinds of performances that will likely change his mind. Beaubois’ overdribbling was a big problem, and on a night when Dallas was already struggling to establish consistent ball movement, having the ball lodged on one side of the floor as Beaubois looked to break his man down was pretty painful. Also: in the first quarter, Beaubois threw one of the worst swing passes I’ve ever seen, missing a wide open Jason Terry by a good five feet.
  • At no point did this particular game look good for the Mavs. Even their more adequate runs were laced with turnovers and defensive lapses, and their very occasional buckets weren’t really created as a result of any kind of offensive process. It’s good to know that Dallas can still put up 75 points with every bit of beneficial offensive structure burned to the ground, but I don’t suspect they’ll win many games with offensive execution so lackluster and defensive effort so wanting.

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Shifty

Posted by Ian Levy on March 29, 2012 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

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When you see measures of a team’s pace, it’s almost always listed as a single number – the average number of possessions a team uses per game. The addition of pace into the statistical lexicon was a monumental step forward, but discussions on the subject still lack oodles of nuance. The Mavericks are averaging 91.7 possessions per game this season, but those 91.7 possessions are not consumed in an equal distribution across 48 minutes. The game speeds up and slows down, alternately racing and lulling through to its conclusion.

Looking at pace only in the context of average possessions used per game leaves a lot of information by the wayside. For example, a team might play two games, using 90 possessions in each, for a pace factor of 90. Another team might play two games, using 70 possessions in the first and 110 in the second, also arriving at a pace factor of 90. Those two pace factors, although numerically identical, are far different in terms of functional significance. These fluctuations in pace don’t just happen across single games, but also across sections of games; teams will play at different speeds based on situations or the personnel that’s on the floor, all of which is muddled in a single pace factor.

Last season I tried to dissect pace in two slightly more defined ways. During the playoff series against the Thunder I looked at pace in smaller chunks of time, and found that the Mavericks seemed to struggle as the game got faster. I also looked at how the Mavericks pace changed when different lineups were on the floor.

What I was curious to look at next was how much the Mavericks’ pace fluctuated in settling on their average, and how that compared to the rest of the league. The tool I used to illustrate this change is variance, a numeric expression of how much a data-set varies from the average. For this analysis I looked at the ten most played lineups for each NBA team and calculated the variance for those ten lineups from the team’s average. The higher the variance, the more change there was in pace from unit to unit, the smaller the variance, the more consistent their pace was.

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