The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 105, Washington Wizards 99

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 27, 2011 under Recaps | 5 Comments to Read

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TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR

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

  • Washington isn’t a particularly problematic matchup for Dallas, yet games between the two teams seem to be a bit more interesting than they should be. With a little over a minute and a half remaining in the fourth quarter, Jordan Crawford hit a pull-up jumper to erase the final points of the Maverick lead. Any team in the league can be dangerous in a one-and-a-half minute time frame, and facing that kind of scenario in a very winnable game is exactly what the Mavs should aim to avoid. Luckily, it didn’t matter; following Crawford’s make, Tyson Chandler scored on a tip-in, John Wall turned the ball over, and Dirk Nowitzki was fouled on a three-point attempt. That gave Dallas just the buffer they needed to secure a win, but this was far from a reassuring victory.
  • The Mavs’ defense wasn’t poor per se, but it certainly wasn’t good. The buckets surrendered in transition to Wall et al are understandable, but the more glaring breakdowns were those that occurred in half-court settings. As usual, the initial contests were strong, but the inability to secure defensive rebounds make things unnecessarily difficult. The Wizards posted a 20.4 offensive rebounding rate, and that effort combined with  low turnovers and decent shooting made Washington unexpectedly competitive. The rebounding has to get better; if JaVale McGee and Kevin Seraphin are giving Dallas trouble on the glass, what happens when the Mavs play even stronger rebounding clubs?
  • Tyson Chandler (23 points, 10-14 FG, 13 rebounds) was the game’s unquestioned standout, as the Wizards failed to account for his presence in any offensive setting. Just one dunk for your viewing pleasure:
  • Chandler’s most important bucket and his most emphatic bucket both came off of offensive rebounds, but Jason Kidd (three points, 14 assists, eight rebounds) set up Chandler for the bulk of his points. JaVale McGee is a skilled shot-blocker, but clearly lacks the defensive awareness to compete with a consistent lob threat.

  • Dallas played as well in their transition offense as they have all season, and produced some truly beautiful sequences. The ball movement was terrific throughout the game, but particularly so as the Mavs looked to set each other up for fast break finishes like this one:
  • Dirk Nowitzki (21 points, 6-18 FG, 9-11 FT, seven rebounds, three assists) had an understated impact, leaving Chandler, Shawn Marion (13 points, 4-6 FG, 10 rebounds, three turnovers), and Jason Terry (25 points, 10-18 FG, four assists) to soak in the limelight. Dallas doesn’t win this game without Nowitzki’s 11 free throw attempts, but Marion played a superb all-around game while Terry funneled in some efficient scoring to compensate for Nowitzki’s poor shooting night from the field. If I can dote on Marion’s game for just a second more: no Maverick does a better job of closing out on three-point shooters, and his speed and length paid off in challenging a Nick Young corner three attempt with under a minute remaining.
  • Chalk this one up as the first big hiccup in Rodrigue Beaubois’ (two points, 1-7 FG, three rebounds, three assists) return. Beaubois played just 13 minutes of action, and Carlisle was right to keep his minutes down; the Mavs’ designated savior was drawing back rim on all of his jumpers, and blew a wide open layup attempt at the start of the third quarter. The Mavs even tried to run a staple alley-oop set from their 2009-2010 repertoire to get Beaubois going, but the set ended in a mistimed jump and a missed layup.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 102, Washington Wizards 92

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 1, 2011 under Recaps | 3 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR

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

  • At no point during this game were the Wizards denied access to what could have been theirs; the Mavs looked infinitely beatable throughout, and generally refused to erase the doubt in the result despite holding all of the cards. Dallas defended fairly well, had Dirk Nowitzki (24 points, 7-11 FG, four rebounds) a step closer to normalcy, and attempted a whopping 37 free throws. Yet if Washington were, well, a better team than they are, the game could have tilted anywhere along the way. The Mavs won the game, but the Wizards certainly did their part to lose it.
  • Tyson Chandler (18 points, 5-10 FG, 18 rebounds, eight offensive boards, four turnovers) was again dominant, and forced another team with weak interior defense (though not without shot-blocking, it’s worth noting) to foul him repeatedly on deep catches and offensive rebounds. Chandler has attempted 11+ free throws in three of his last four games, despite playing fewer than 33 minutes in each. Think about that. Chandler is, on some nights, the consistent source of free throws that the Mavs have long needed. Dallas may not be able to dump the ball to him in the low post, but the team’s willingness to find Chandler and the Tyson’s creativity in finding open spots around the rim have created a pretty viable threat.
  • Brian Cardinal (nine points, 3-8 3FG, four rebounds) started in the spot formerly held by Sasha Pavlovic, and though I’m unsure of just how long a tandem of Cardinal and Dirk Nowitzki can coexist defensively, it worked well enough on Monday night. Then again, I’ve underestimated Cardinal almost every step of the way. I thought of him as a decent three-point shooter, but he’s become the Mavs’ best. He’s hustled at each of his NBA stops, but Cardinal really does do so many of those fabled “little things.” I figured any claims of his defensive adequacy were probably overstated, yet he manages to hold his own. Cardinal’s not a long-time starting option, but for the moment, he’ll do just fine.
  • Dallas’ ball movement was certainly notable. The Mavs assisted on 27 of their 34 field goal attempts, and Jason Kidd and Jason Terry combined for 19 dimes between them. This was really one of those holistic concepts, though; the ball movement around the perimeter was fantastic, and virtually every Maverick was giving up good shots for better ones. Kidd and Terry were particularly brilliant, but the entire team deserves credit for forcing the Wizards to commit and then exploiting their rotations.
  • It’s practically heresy to wish the Mavs to be less than they are, but every time Ian Mahinmi (seven points, two rebounds, one block in just eight and a half minutes) hits the court I think of what it might be like if this team were in a different place. Mahinmi isn’t a cornerstone, but his activity level is impressive. Mahinmi’s feel for the game isn’t natural. He’s worked hard to get to where he is now, and it’s unlikely that he’d ever evolve into stable, starting center material. But wouldn’t you love to know for sure? For now, Mahinmi is a better player than the Mavs can find minutes for, but he’s a terrific luxury to have.
  • Also, this:

  • The Wizards picked up their fifth team foul with 9:05 remaining in the fourth quarter. Dallas went on to attempt 17 free throws in the frame. Matters a little bit, no?
  • I wouldn’t say that Dirk is ready to resume business as usual, but this was by far his most comfortable game since his return from injury. Nowitzki took advantage of going to work against Andray Blatche, Rashard Lewis, and Trevor Booker, who provided far less opposition in the post than Nowitzki has seen in recent games. He was able to back his Wizards opponents down, and shot fake his way to the free throw line on several occasions, which is far better than the desperate heaves we’ve seen from Nowitzki in the last week or so. It’s apparent that Dirk wants to recapture his potency, but this was his most legitimate advance toward that end.
  • Also: this isn’t a pass that Dirk could have made even as recently as two or three seasons ago, and not only because Tyson Chandler is a more capable finisher than Erick Dampier:

  • In case you didn’t know, Nick Young (6-20 FG) and Andray Blatche (4-17 FG) are remarkably skilled in firing up shots without a moment’s consideration. It’s as if every reasonably well-positioned catch transitions seamlessly into a shot attempt. It’s some kind of credit to them both that they play without doubt, but it’s a bit of a red flag that they play without discretion.