Thermodynamics: The 2012-2013 Season

Posted by Travis Wimberly on April 21, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Black hole

Thermodynamics (n.) – the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy

And with that, the 2012-2013 Dallas Mavericks will ride off into the sunset.

Sixteen NBA teams will play on, but the Mavs’ season is over. It wasn’t exactly a ceremonious ending, but it could have been worse. The Mavs closed out the year exactly at .500 (41-41), tallying their final win ever against the New Orleans Hornets Pelicans.  In the process, they became the first Western Conference team in over three decades to finish at .500 or better after being 10-plus games below that mark at any point during the season. That says something (although I’m not sure exactly what).

In honor of the season’s end and the final 2012-2013 installment of Thermodynamics, this week’s column will be a little different. Instead of the usual “weekly recap” approach, this one will address the three hottest and coldest performances for the entire season. For each item on the list, I’ll include one of the first things I wrote about that player from early in the year, and we can see how those initial impressions line up with the player’s season-long outlook.

Off we go…

FIRE

1) Brandan Wright

“Last season [2011-2012], Brandan Wright was a very serviceable rotation-caliber big man. This year, he will move well above that status, if the first two games are any indication.” – Thermodynamics: Week 1 (Nov. 1, 2012)

Those first two games were an indication, indeed.

Like countless Mavs observers, I spent the early part of this season perplexed by Rick Carlisle’s handling of Wright. Even accounting for Wright’s weaknesses, there was never any real justification for him to ride the pine for long stretches in favor of 2012 Troy Murphy. Yet as the year went on, Carlisle grew more and more comfortable with Wright. The 25-year-old big man began to rebound and defend better (although he still has significant room for improvement), all while the Mavs’ mounting playoff desperation necessitated Carlisle’s compromise.

As many of us suspected, Wright turned to be one of the Mavs’ most efficient and productive players, effectively showcasing his potential as a long-term piece for the Mavs. He also drove up his free-agent asking price in the process, but Dallas has cap room aplenty, which if nothing else will give Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson room to mull over a competitive offer. I consider him a top priority for this offseason. It would be foolish to let him walk unless another team wants to drastically overpay him (which isn’t completely outside the realm of possibility). Wright is already a highly efficient offensive player, and he has plenty of upside to boot. It’s hard to ask for more.

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The Agony of Average

Posted by David Hopkins on April 19, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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“…On my word, we’ll trouble you no more.” – Galactus, Devourer of Worlds

In March, I spoke with ESPN Central Texas 1660 AM about the Dallas Mavericks. During that segment, I said something to the effect that the Mavs are “a 500 team, but 500 won’t be good enough to get into the playoffs in the Western Conference.” Nailed it. They were .500 exactly with 41 wins and 41 losses. It’s the first time in franchise history that they’ve had a .500 win/loss percentage for a season. But what does 500 mean?

If we were to add up all the games this season as if it were one single game, the Mavericks were outscored by opponents 8,342 to 8,293. I don’t know if this number is all that significant, except to indicate that, on average, the Mavs losses had a greater point differential than their wins. Sure, the Mavs had some close games. But from this season, those blowouts are going to be what I remember most. When a game got out of control, the Mavs just couldn’t put on the brakes, couldn’t stop the bleeding. Use whatever metaphor you want.

Ever since the western dominance of the NBA, around the time when Michael Jordan retired, Shaquille O’Neal moved to Los Angeles, and the Spurs drafted Tim Duncan, the question has persisted: is a Western Conference record worth more than an Eastern Conference record? When the Mavs play powerful Western Conference teams more often than lowly Eastern Conference teams, doesn’t that count for something? Keep in mind, five Western teams have 50 plus regular season wins. In the East, there are only two. At 500, the Mavs would’ve made the playoffs in the East—pushing out Milwaukee. Of course, this is price the Mavs pay for being in a better, more competitive conference.

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Closing Remarks, Part Six

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on under Interviews | Be the First to Comment

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Though the team’s record was 41-41, many would say that this year was one of Rick Carlisle’s best coaching performances of his career. He had to endure over a quarter of the season without his best player and found a way to make sure his team never quit. Carlisle had to balance the juggling act of a roster that was in flux and it was a roster that easily could have turned on him with new contracts on the horizon. That said, they didn’t turn because the coach never gave in.

It was a year of work for Rick Carlisle. The results didn’t bear any fruit, but it’s not due to his negligence. The summer begins early for him, with potentially a new set of issues he’ll have to prepare for. Dirk Nowitzki might be the best on-the-floor asset the Mavs have, but Rick Carlisle is truly an asset that should not be taken for granted.

Here is the exit interview with Mavs coach Rick Carlisle.

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Closing Remarks, Part Three

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on under Interviews | Be the First to Comment

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O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison were seen as pieces that presented the backcourt of the future. With both of them still in their mid-20s, the sky was the limit for both Mayo and Collison. Unfortunately, the two never really seemed to click at the same time. With Dirk Nowitzki out for the first 27 games of the season, Mayo led the team in scoring and minutes and was primed to be the player everyone hoped he would become. Ultimately, he hit a wall and was unable to really recover from it.

Collison saw his starting position taken away from him by two veteran point guards who joined the team during the middle of the season, Derek Fisher and Mike James. It was an extremely up and down season for the young point guard. You only have to look at the team’s regular season finale where he scored a game-high 25 points to see that there’s potential there.

Both could easily be with the Mavs next season or both of them could be playing on new squads, creating a new void for the franchise. You can make a case that either route is a solid decision for the franchise. Time will tell what they ultimately do. For now, here are the exit interviews for both Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo.

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Closing Remarks, Part One

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on April 18, 2013 under Interviews | Be the First to Comment

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With the season dead and gone for the Mavs, exit interviews are the next item of the docket. Mark Cuban is not one who usually participates in the exit interview process, though he was in the building saying goodbye to the team.

As always, he’s one who isn’t shy to speak to the media. Prior to the team’s season finale against the then New Orleans Hornets, he spoke to the media about figurative dating, O.J. Mayo, the pain of the season and what will happen going forward.

Here is Mark Cuban’s “exit interview” quoteboard.

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Knowns and Unknowns

Posted by Brian Rubaie on April 17, 2013 under Commentary, Roster Moves | Read the First Comment

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The last game of a wild Mavericks season is now less than 24 hours away. Fittingly, uncertainty still looms even as game number 82 approaches; the result of tonight’s contest determines whether Dallas finishes the season as a losing team or achieves the respectable .500 mark they fought so hard to reach. Though that distinction in itself may prove to be of little consequence, the end of a troubling season introduces far more questions an uncertainties with precious few answers to speak of.

While most of Dallas’ future is unknown, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld provided a useful framework for understanding and classifying known and unknown forces. Rumsfeld famously responded to a journalist’s query about uncertainty by putting “knowns and unknowns” into three conceptual categories, explaining:

“There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.
But, there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.

In the first category, the “known knowns” which represent areas of total certainty, Dallas entered 2012-2013 with none and leaves with a very important one: Dirk’s still got it.

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Quoteboard: Memphis Grizzlies 103, Dallas Mavericks 97

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on April 15, 2013 under Interviews | Be the First to Comment

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Just one night after getting to shave their beards, the Dallas Mavericks ensured they will not have a winning season by suffering a 103-97 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis used a 9-0 run from the 8:02 mark of the fourth quarter through the 6:41 mark of the period to turn a one-point deficit, 78-77, into an eight-point advantage, 86-78. The Grizzlies then led for the remainder of the contest.

Dirk Nowitzki tallied a game-high 26 points in 36 minutes against the Grizzlies. He scored 20-plus points for the third time in his last four games (19th time this season). Nowitzki is averaging 22.0 points per game on 44.8 percent shooting over his last four games.

Vince Carter totaled 22 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists in 29 minutes against the Grizzlies. With a reverse layup at the 3:30 mark of the first quarter, Carter passed Clyde Drexler (22,195) for 27th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. The basket gave him five points for the game and 22,197 points for his career. Carter finished with 22 points on the night and now has 22,214 points for his career. Elgin Baylor ranks 26th all-time in career scoring with 23,149 points.

O.J. Mayo once again struggled against his former team. Mayo went 1-of-6 from the floor for only two points. He had four turnovers in the game. After seeing enough, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle emphatically called a timeout and benched Mayo for the remainder of the game. Mayo did not want to speak to anyone after the loss. He dressed and left the locker room by the time the media was allowed to enter.

Some notes before the quotes:

- Vince Carter scored 20-plus points for the second time in his last three games (12th time this season). Carter is averaging 20.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 1.7 blocks and 30.3 minutes over his last three games. He has shot 55 percent (22-of-40) from the field and 60 percent (9-of-15) from deep over his last three contests.

- With the loss, Dallas was unsuccessful at sweeping a back-to-back this season.

- Memphis’ 64 points off the bench is a new opponent-high. The previous high mark was 63 by Washington on Nov. 14.

- Against his former team, O.J. Mayo averaged 8.5 points on 35.1 percent shooting from the field, 30 percent from 3 and 3.8 turnovers this year.

Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ befuddling loss to Memphis.

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Quoteboard: Dallas Mavericks 108, Denver Nuggets 105 (Overtime)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on April 13, 2013 under Interviews | Be the First to Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks played for pride and found a way to squeak out a 108-105 overtime victory over the playoff-bound Denver Nuggets. Dallas used a 19-2 run (from the 8:22 mark of the third quarter through the 3:53 mark of the period) to turn an 11-point deficit (61-50) into a six-point advantage (69-63) en route to their victory. Dirk Nowitzki recorded his sixth double-double of the season (375th career) with a game-high-tying 22 points to go along with 10 rebounds and four assists in 40 minutes against Denver. He scored 20-plus points for the second straight game (18th time this season).

Another veteran helped lead the charge for the Mavericks as Vince Carter posted his first double-double of the season (89th career) with a game-high-tying 22 points  to go along with a season-high 12 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks in 34 minutes against Denver (previous high: nine rebounds on three occasions).

O.J. Mayo went 5-of-7 from beyond the arc and scored 20 points to go along with three rebounds, six assists, two steals and one block in 42 minutes. Shawn Marion totaled 15 points to go along with eight rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block in 30 minutes against the Nuggets. Marion is averaging 20.5 points and 9.0 rebounds over his last four games.

Some notes before the quotes:

- Dirk Nowitzki now has 24,990 career points and needs 10 points for 25,000. He will become the 17th player in NBA history with at least 25,000 points.

- Vince Carter had his first double-double since Apr. 16, 2012 at Utah (18 points and 12 rebounds). It also marked just the second time in his career that he totaled at least 22 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks in the same game (46 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists and 3 blocks in 47 minutes vs. Washington Apr. 7, 2007. With the win, the Mavericks improved to 9-2 this season when Carter scores 20-plus points, and 12-3 when he scores 20-plus points over the last two seasons. He also tied his career high with eight offensive rebounds. He pulled down eight offensive boards as a member of the New Jersey Nets against the Chicago Bulls on Nov. 5, 2005.

- With the win, the Mavericks improved to 6-1 this season when O.J. Mayo makes at least five triples in a game. He recorded his 22nd 20-point game of the season (15-7 record), but his first since Mar. 8 at Detroit (22 points).

- With the victory, the Mavericks snapped the Nuggets’ five-game winning streak.

- The Mavericks played their 11th overtime game of the season against the Nuggets on Friday. Prior to the 2012-13 campaign, the franchise record for the most overtime games in a season was eight (in 1995-96, 1997-98 and 2009-10).

Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ prideful win over Denver.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 108, Denver Nuggets 105

Posted by Connor Huchton on under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

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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.

  • Mark Cuban may love Vince Carter (9-19 FG, 22 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists) more than I do, but I too admire the aging guard’s resolve. Carter had regressed a bit over the last month or so, but tonight reminded me why I was so enamored with his vitalized play in late-February and early-March. His performance was one of immense substance and resolve for a team no longer fighting for the playoffs, no longer fighting for much of anything other than a .500+ record and a lower lottery pick. Thank you for a season of stalwart professionalism, Vince Carter, and I hope to say the same as next season ends. 
  • When Corey Brewer (6-20 FG, 18 points, five steals) scored off a steal as regulation dwindled to a close, I did not expect the Mavericks to rise up and control the overtime period. But so they did, mostly thanks to O.J. Mayo (7-13 FG, 5-7 3PT, 20 points, six assists, two turnovers), who made a late bid for changing Mavericks’ fans perceptions with a commendable scoring performance. Mayo’s ability to find rhythm and function as a key offensive weapon in the Carlisle offense seems largely dependent on his ability to limit turnovers. With an offseason and another season in Carlisle’s system, it’s a problem Mayo may be able to address and quell to some extent. There’s no guarantee of that essential improvement, but Mayo is still only 25 years old.
  • Though he tired a bit down the stretch, Dirk Nowitzki (9-17 FG, 22 points, 10 rebounds, four assists) provided a very resilient and potent 40 minutes tonight. He’s not the Dirk of old – he’s the old Dirk – but he’s still capable of charging an offense and bringing rebounds down with the most tenacious of elbows. Time has been the Mavericks’ bane for the last two years, and while it may be presumptuous of me, I’d like to ask time to freeze until next season, and allow this basketball Dirk to begin and end the 2013-2014 campaign in the same impressive form of recent months. 

Thermodynamics: Week 24

Posted by Travis Wimberly on April 11, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Thermodynamics (n.) – the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy

The Mavs have been officially eliminated from playoff contention, but they say they won’t quit on the season. In that case, neither will we. We’ve got about one more week before most of our regular columns here at The Two Man Game go into offseason hiatus, so let’s make it count.

Week 24 (@Nuggets, @Kings, @Blazers, Suns)

FIRE

1) The Matrix

The 2012-13 Mavs have a handful of younger players whose grit and tenacity are sometimes easy to question. Meanwhile, they have a few older players for whom those traits are indisputable and unwavering. Shawn Marion is one of those guys in the latter category, and this week was the quintessential example. With the Mavs’ playoff hopes dwindling further and further, the Matrix rose to the occasion. After a respectable 10-point night in Denver, he produced 25 points against Sacramento, 20 against Portland, and 22 against Phoenix. It was the first time since 2007 that Marion has scored 20-plus points in three consecutive games. Not only that, he scored very efficiently — 34-of-58 (59%) shooting on the week — and contributed 8.5 rebounds per game to boot. I’m not going to say the Mavs have quitters on their roster, because I don’t think that’s true. But I will say this: Shawn Marion is the polar opposite of a quitter.

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