Outside the Box: Valley of the Sun

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on June 12, 2013 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

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This week, The Two Man Game will start looking at what the Mavs could do as another pivotal summer is upon them. Mark Cuban has said there are different ways or “permutations” to ensure the Mavs won’t have a failure of a summer if they are unable to land a big fish acquisition.

Dirk Nowitzki said Cuban is “all-in” on this summer, and committed to bringing the franchise back to where it belongs. There are traditional ways to do that but there are also outside the box ways of doing that. We’ll look at five potential angles the Mavs could work that would be considered outside the box.

The Phoenix Suns have not made the playoffs over the last three seasons. That includes last season where they had the worst record in the entire Western Conference. They’re presently a team without a star, that really doesn’t have a direction or vision on how to improve their situation. They’re a mess.

They do have two intriguing pieces in Goran Dragic and Marcin Gortat that could be of some use to the Mavs. Dragic likely appears the less realistic due to his contract. Dallas already had hesitations about him as a point guard (which I still don’t exactly understand), so I’m guessing they wouldn’t want to bring him on under the deal that Phoenix signed him to. That leaves Marcin Gortat.

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Trading Places

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on February 21, 2013 under Commentary, Roster Moves, Rumors | 2 Comments to Read

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Today is the day. The trade deadline is finally here. At 2 pm central standard time, the wheeling and dealing will pretty much be over. The Mavericks are in a tough spot as they try to balance their run for the playoffs this year and continue their process of transitioning into the future. With viable trade assets in Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and Chris Kaman, anything is possible. Dallas could be looking for players that can boost their playoff chances this year, they could look to accommodate other teams and acquire nice pieces in return or they could unload everything and work with a relatively clean slate going into the offseason.

The most recent report came from Ken Berger of CBSSports.com suggesting that the Mavericks have made Roddy Beaubois, Dominique Jones and Brandan Wright available for draft picks, according to sources. Some have joked that the Mavericks would be willing to take a third-round draft pick for either Roddy or Jones (there are only two rounds in the NBA draft). Picks are quite valuable in today’s new NBA as rookie-deal players are all the rage. The Mavericks would be interested in obtaining those picks, but they won’t do anything to compromise their cap room.

As the festivities of All-Star weekend faded away, the trade deadline became the top story for the league. Rumors, like the ones mentioned above, always run rampant as the deadline approaches. Owners and general managers are valuable sources of information, but it’s hard to really figure out if they’re giving you information that is worth running with. The best thing to do is just look around the league and get a feel for where each team is at and determine if there is something in terms of a fit for your team. That’s what we’re going to do here. As the trade deadline inches closer and closer, it’s time to look at every team around the league and see if there’s anything that makes sense for the Mavericks.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 122, Phoenix Suns 99

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 31, 2012 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas95.0128.463.220.727.89.5
Phoenix104.251.325.017.111.9

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

  • So much of this brilliant offensive outing was built on the strength of the Mavs’ multi-angle drive-and-kick game. Initial penetration would draw defensive attention and lead to a kick to the corner, which would lead to a close-out and more dribble penetration and an ensuing kick-out from the wing, which would lead to an open three-pointer above the break. That cycle of dribble action may make it seem like the Mavs were getting nowhere, but having so may consecutive opportunities to put pressure on the opposing defense is hugely beneficial. Hence the scoreboard.
  • Which isn’t to say that the Mavs didn’t work the ball in other, less direct ways. Dallas’ ball movement was as crisp around the perimeter as it was from the inside out; despite the fact that everyone seemed to be connecting on their three-point attempts, the Mavs willingly rotated the ball around the perimeter to fully scramble the Suns’ defense and manufacture wide open attempts. They could have settled — in a sense — for good shots rather than great ones, but the ball never stuck to a single hot hand.
  • The basketball gods gave the Mavericks a gift: On the second night of a back-to-back — and following a hard-fought overtime game against the San Antonio Spurs — Dallas was given a crack at the struggling Phoenix Suns. Even better: They were given a crack at the struggling Phoenix Suns sans the one player that the Suns can never afford to lose. Again, hence the scoreboard.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 93, Phoenix Suns 87

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 24, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas94.098.945.735.818.811.3
Phoenix92.641.026.528.817.0

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

  • This was certainly more of a defensive win than an offensive win, though Dallas had a way of playing to the extremes on D. The Mavs did a good job of pressuring shots, clogging passing lanes, and preventing penetration in a general sense, but were periodically victimized by Steve Nash’s (eight points, 2-9 FG, 12 assists, three turnovers) typical pick-and-roll brilliance. The defensive execution on those high screen-and-rolls improved as the game went on, but as late in the third and fourth quarters we still saw the occasional breakdown in coverage that led to a wide open attempt for Marcin Gortat within five feet of the basket, or an open three-point look for a Suns shooter without so much as a mild contest. Dallas’ final defensive numbers were pretty solid, but it would be reassuring to see some steadiness in their execution. It’s easy to settle for improved effort and play in the second half en route to a win, but when a team is posting elite defensive marks for the season, they deserve a bit more scrutiny than an “all’s well that ends well” outlook would typically provide. Bravo for the rebound, but those first-half quirks can’t become too common.
  • Although Dallas struggled offensively overall (45.7% eFG%; 99.9 points per 100 possessions), this was an oddly dominant performance by the Maverick bigs. Brendan Haywood  (5-10 FG) scored Dallas’ first two buckets and finished with 10 on some pretty aggressive moves to the rim, Ian Mahinmi (4-7 FG, 9-12 FT) scored 17 points on just seven shots, and Brandan Wright came off the bench in the first half to play some productive minutes alongside Mahinmi rather than behind him. There was a stretch in the second quarter when every positive play on the floor seemed to be due to either Mahinmi or Wright, and their energy on both ends was crucial as Dallas figured out how to adjust their defensive coverage.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 98, Phoenix Suns 89

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 5, 2012 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas91.0107.746.215.438.014.3
Phoenix97.868.212.224.416.5

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 Phoenix Suns clearly planned to smother Dirk Nowitzki (20 points, 7-17 FG, six rebounds, seven assists) with multiple defenders, and he made them pay with smart passes through and over the top of the defense. The precedent was set early in the first quarter: Shawn Marion set a baseline screen for Nowitzki only to find himself wide open under the basket just seconds later. Both defenders had rushed out to attack Nowitzki out on the wing, and in an efforts to satisfy their defensive emphasis, had forgotten about the other forward on the floor.
  • This was another very typical, low-scoring performance for Jason Kidd (three points, three assists, five rebounds, four steals), in which he manages to control the game in other ways. Nowitzki and Vince Carter helped Kidd enough in the playmaking department to make him a luxury in that regard, but his help defense was phenomenal against the Suns’ fluid offense. The game plan was simple: 1) Move Kidd off of Steve Nash as much as possible, 2) Allow him to dominate the passing lanes with his good timing and better anticipation, 3) Profit.

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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 105, Orlando Magic 99

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 22, 2010 under Recaps | 7 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot Chart — GameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas91.0115.457.922.412.114.3
Orlando108.850.614.024.413.2

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.

  • What a blast. Two very capable offenses went to work, and while the defensive effort wasn’t necessarily lacking on either side, they just couldn’t keep pace with either team’s offensive execution. It wasn’t always the prettiest ball, but there’s an obvious appeal to a game where both teams light it up from the outside. 23 total three-pointers between the Mavs and Magic, who combined to shoot 41.8% from deep. Caron Butler (4-6 3FG), in particular, continues to impress with his range. Butler has only been even remotely successful from behind the three-point line in two of previous nine NBA seasons. This year, Caron is hitting an impressive 40.4% of his threes, his career-high by a wide margin. I want to believe that this is legitimate improvement. I want to believe that we’re beyond the warning period for flukes, and that Caron, the corner gunner, is here to stay. So why is it still so hard to believe that Butler could have settled into a Kidd-like comfort zone from the perimeter?
  • Dwight Howard (26 points, 23 rebounds, three steals, two blocks) was fantastic. The Mavs’ bigs, to both their credit and discredit, did a great job of contesting Howard’s shots without fouling, but Dwight showed off a nice array of moves with both hands to score over and around them. Howard shot just four free throws all night (and made all four!), but his 11-of-19 mark from the field kept him — and the Magic — efficient. Howard was effective on defense as always, even if his impact was negated a bit by the Mavs’ hot shooting from the outside. His presence was probably most felt when he was on the bench. As soon as Howard caught a breather, Tyson Chandler (16 points, 7-7 FG, four rebounds) went on a rampage. Orlando is aching for a proper backup center now that Marcin Gortat is a Sun, and Chandler took full advantage of that weakness in the rotation.
  • On a related note: Butler seems to have rounded a legitimate corner in his possession usage. He still gets caught pump-faking and jab-stepping into infinity on a possession or two, but 20 points on 14 shots? With just one turnover? This is the dream. This is the sidekick the Mavs have been looking for, and as is the case with his three-point shooting, all Dallas can hope for is a little sustenance.
  • Jason Kidd (13 points, 12 assists, six rebounds) had one of his best games in awhile. He wasn’t the best Maverick on the floor, but had a total impact in a way he hasn’t in some time. It’s nice to have the complete Kidd back, hitting threes, setting up his teammates, fighting for rebounds, and scrambling for defensive advantage.
  • Of note: Hedo Turkoglu’s defense on Dirk Nowitzki (17 points, 4-13 FG, eight rebounds, five assists) was surprisingly successful. Maybe Stan Van Gundy really does bring out the best in Turkoglu’s game. There was just something extra in his effort against Nowitzki that we haven’t seen from Turkoglu in Phoenix or Toronto. He looked right at home in a Magic uniform again, and though he did damage to both teams on the offensive end, his D on Dirk shouldn’t be discounted. Golf clap for the man.
  • Not much separated the Mavs and Magic in this one. Dallas was a bit hotter from outside, had a bit more scoring versatility, and got to the free throw line just a tad more often. Orlando was within striking distance, and Jason Richardson (10 points, 4-13 FG, five rebounds) made things interesting late after Hedo Turkoglu’s (nine points, 2-11 FG, eight assists, four turnovers) hilarious attempts to take over the game failed miserably. I wouldn’t say this game was quite as balanced as yesterday’s match-up with Miami, but it was competitive to say the least.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on October 21, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • Mark Cuban. The Situation. Why not? (UPDATE: See the pairing, along with Vinnie and Ronnie, in all of their photoshopped glory.)
  • Rick Carlisle, on his trip to Orlando last summer to recruit and sign Marcin Gortat (via Eddie Sefko): “I came down here and had a great recruiting trip. He let me drive his car. It could go 220 mph. At one point, he said: put the pedal all the way down to the bottom.” Carlisle wouldn’t divulge his top-end speed, although he acknowledged it may have been a shade over the local speed limits in Orlando. “It didn’t work out,” Carlisle said. “We wish him the best. He still stays in touch with me. He’s a terrific guy.”
  • The Texas Legends are big time. So big time, in fact, that they’ll be broadcasting one of the Legends’ preseason games, against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, on VERSUS. Not too shabby for a team that has yet to play a single game in a league that has lacked the exposure it deserves.
  • Mike Prada unveils the second edition of the Watchability Scale, and the Mavs fall understandably in the middle of the pack under the header “RELIABLE, PREDICTABLE.” Hard to argue there. Dallas is rock-steady, and while their approach has gotten them 50+ wins every season for an entire decade, it does make them a bit of a broken record. Through Nellie, Avery, and Carlisle, a lot has changed, but the bread and butter of the Dallas offense hasn’t.
  • In a chat with Quick DFW, Mark Cuban was asked if he ever envisioned what the Mavs would be like had Dirk left this summer. Cuban’s response? “No. I have pictures, so I knew we were safe. :) ” (via DOH at Mavs Moneyball)
  • Tyson Chandler suffered a boo-boo in last night’s preseason game against the Magic, which has since been stitched up and will need about a week to heal. What happens next week again? Oh, yeah.
  • Dominique Jones, on the difference between himself and Mavs’ assistant coach Darrell Armstrong, who was the point guard for the Magic when Jones was growing up in Orlando (via Eddie Sefko): “I don’t take charges.” Well, he had better start taking them if he wants to be an effective NBA defender. Armstrong, of course, chimed in as a voice of reason: “He’s got to learn how to take charges. I think he took one in summer camp. That might have been the one that hurt his feelings and he said, ‘I don’t take charges.’ He might not know how to do it, but that’s another something I got to teach him.”
  • J.J. Barea is still the back-up point guard, though Carlisle hinted the job is probably Rodrigue Beaubois’ upon his return.

UPDATE:

  • Royce Young had me over to his place to preview the Thunder’s upcoming season. OKC will be battling with the Mavs every step of the way, so familiarize yourself. Also, while you’ve over at Daily Thunder, take a peek through Royce and co.’s preview magazine. Very well done.
  • A few scouts think Dallas can make it to the conference finals, and one picks San Antonio to win it all.
  • Eddy Rivera of Magic Basketball recapped the Mavs’ brief success in their game against the Magic last night: “The Mavericks did put up a fight in the first half, trailing by two points at halftime. A big reason for that was because the Magic’s second unit got killed in the second quarter against the 5-man combination of J.J. Barea, Dominique Jones, Caron Butler, Dirk Nowitzki, and Tyson Chandler. Dallas put on a clinic offensively, running a lot of pick and pops for Nowitzki, pick and rolls for Chandler, backdoor screens for the wing players, and more. It was just beautiful to watch. Likewise, until the starters for Orlando checked into the game at the 4:37 minute mark in the period, the reserves were struggling to create for themselves on offense. That was a big reason for Dallas’ 16-2 run and six point lead in the quarter.”
  • A closer look at J.J. Barea’s Under Armour kicks.

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on May 19, 2010 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on December 12, 2009 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

  • We’re just a hop and a skip into the season, and former Mav Brandon Bass and almost Mav Marcin Gortat are in Marc Stein’s list of the top five players most likely to be moved. It’s strange how these things work out.
  • Fyodor Dostoevsky, Vladimir Vysotsky, and Gerald Green. It all makes sense, trust me. (via A Stern Warning)
  • The Mavs are tied for the most road wins in the Western Conference.
  • The JET has only good things to say about Erick Dampier (via Eddie Sefko): “The big fella has to play, plain and simple…We got to have Erick Dampier on the court. I don’t care what team we’re playing against – big lineup, little lineup, what have you. He has to be out there. He’s having an outstanding year, and whatever we have to do to keep him out there, we have to do.”
  • Erick Dampier himself on his success within the offense (also via Sefko): “We know teams aren’t going to leave Dirk or Jet…On the pick and roll, if I set a good pick, it’s going to be either a walk-in layup or open jumper for the guard or a dunk for me…That’s just basic basketball. We don’t have to make it complicated.”
  • J.J. Barea has had his fair share of struggles, but you wouldn’t know it after last night’s game. Barea was a game-changer, and in the locker room, he was treated like one.
  • That Tim Thomas issue? A non-issue.