The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 105, Portland Trailblazers 99

Posted by Kirk Henderson on February 6, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

OneStepForwardTwoStepsBack

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.

  • The Wednesday night victory over Portland was game one in a five game home stand for Dallas which stretches out until February 22nd. This home stand is really a last stand, of sorts, in terms of Dallas hoping to make the playoffs. Winning all five seems unreasonable, since a four game win streak is all Dallas has been able to muster to date, but four out of five would be steps in the right direction
  • We’ve not seen the O.J. Mayo-Dirk Nowitzki pick and roll as much as I would have hoped this season, but there were a number of instances of it tonight which bodes well for future games. The best example happened towards the end of the third quarter. Dirk and Mayo ran the pick and roll at the top of the key with Mayo driving right and using the Dirk screen. Due to Mayo’s 20 point first half the Blazers were concerned with him turning the corner and getting to the basket. Dirk saw that Mayo drew both defender’s attention and drifted to an open spot near the left elbow. Mayo saw an opening between the defenders and fired a quick pass to Dirk who nailed the ensuing jump shot. It was the sort of “pick your poison” option that used to happen between Dirk and Jason Terry.
  • Damian Lilliard started the game with 12 points in the first quarter yet finished the game with 19. I was unable to see the first half due to a League Pass snafu, so I’d be interested in hearing what, if anything Dallas did different defensively beyond the first quarter.
  • The difference in execution when Vince Carter (17 points, three assists) is in the line up is something to see. After the ugly Thunder game, the impact of Carter was felt throughout the game. His ability to shake off bad plays and make important ones was seen at the end of the third quarter. He somehow missed both free throw attempts, then forced a lay up, and then followed that up with a turnover when he made a sloppy pass to Dirk. Portland capitalized on these mistakes to go on a 10-0 run to go up by eight points. After a 5-0 run from Jae Crowder, Carter followed up nailing a huge three pointer at the end of the quarter to bring Dallas back within two.
  • Great to see Roddy Beaubois (nine points, two assists) get 25 minutes of game action. He’s the best option available for back up minutes. He might not run the offense with the urgency of Mike James, but he’s smooth when he’s playing under control and really gives Dallas a bit of an “x-factor” when he sees his shot start to fall. His three pointer to start the fourth fully shifted the momentum back to Dallas after a bit of a frustrating end to the third quarter.
  • Jae Crowder’s 5-0 run near the end of the third quarter was vital for the Mavericks heading into the final period. I still cringe at his shot selection, but the three he made to start the run was huge. His steal on the following Blazer possession was an instance of hustle and basketball awareness, two things he was said to bring to the table when he was drafted. When he plays within himself, he can be a very effective basketball player.

Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on Twitter @KirkSeriousFace for ranting about Dallas basketball, TV, movies, video games, and his dog

 

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 91, Oklahoma City Thunder 112

Posted by Kirk Henderson on February 5, 2013 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

flood

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.

  • I spent most of the game watching and rewatching plays that involved O.J. Mayo (eight points, six assists). His five turnovers were inexcusable. After a rough stretch in December and a horrible game against Miami to start the year, Mayo seemed to get his turnovers under control. Over this road trip, however, he managed to turn the ball over just under four times a game. He started this game with a turnover when he didn’t see Kevin Durant in the passing lane on the game’s second possession. His final turnover occurred when he lost the ball on an out of bounds play. These turnover are due to lack of focus and when Mayo isn’t focused he really hurts the Mavericks.
  • There should be no question why Vince Carter was not traded recently to the Grizzlies during the Memphis-Toronto trade talks. He’s simply too important. Since Dallas does not seem to have a functional back up point guard, his passing ability is necessary to the Dallas bench. That he can get off a shot whenever he chooses is also vital. The offense bogged down with alarming regularity against the Thunder with no one able to get to the rim.
  • Dirk is now 11 for 41 from the field in the three games he’s played against the Thunder. It’s easy to read into this, though. The first game he shot 3 for 11, which was one of his first games back from his surgery. The second game Dirk shot 4 for 19, and still looked to be missing his legs. This third game he was forced to take a number of low percentages looks late in the shot clock because Dallas was having trouble getting any sort of clean look at the basket.
  • Bernard James set a new career high with four blocks to go along with his two points and six rebounds. His timing is really impressive.
  • The quiet dominance of Kevin Durant was on full display against Dallas. 19 points on 11 shots, 10 rebounds, and four assists in only 28 minutes of action. That he’s only 24 is simply unfair.
  • Not to continue to pick on Mayo, but his understanding of team defense is non-existent. In the second quarter he was guarding Kevin Martin (17 points) who was on the weak side wing. Kevin Durant was on the other wing, with the ball. Martin made a simple back cut and Durant found him wide open under the goal for a dunk. Mayo had no idea Martin had cut until it was way too late. A similar play happened a few possessions later when he got caught watching Durant. Thabo Sefolosha slipped behind Mayo and Durant found Sefolosha for a lay up which he missed. Mayo gets caught watching the ball a lot and as a result he’s often late on rotations, particularly when “helping the helper”. Helping the helper means rotating to a teammate’s defensive assignment when that teammate is forced to rotate elsewhere, often due to penetration.
  • In the first two match ups Darren Collison played very well, scoring 32 and 15 points respectively. Midway through the second quarter the Thunder opted to go very small, with Durant playing power forward. Durant switched onto Collison repeatedly during the Dallas high pick and roll action and shut down Collison, blocking his shot aggressivley on one possession. Between this and Russell Westbrook’s challenging defense, Collison stopped probing the lane early and the Dallas offense suffered.
  • Serge Ibaka (12 points, five rebounds) took and made his 8th three of the year. That’s a pretty good indication of how well the Thunder offense was clicking.
  • Mayo’s not the only one who needs a course in defensive awareness. In the second quarter Nick Collison was on the left wing being guarded by Dirk. Jae Crowder was guarding Kevin Durant, who was close to the left corner a few feet away. For some reason Crowder decided to leave Durant briefly  acting as if he was going to trap Nick Collison with Dirk. This was a really, really poor decision as Durant recognized what Crowder was thinking and cut to the basket. Collison threw a simple bounce pass between Dirk and Crowder which Durant caught and dunked it with a foul from Wright. It’s usually a good idea to not leave a MVP candidate wide open for a cut on the baseline.
  • Additionally, there was no way Brandan Wright was going to be able to block Durant as he slashed, mainly due to him being Durant, but also due to the angle Durant took to the basket. Wright has to be smarter than this. Either be in place earlier to challenge the shot better (unlikely since Wright seemed as surprised as everyone else that Durant was left open to cut) or just let the dunk go.
  • It’s interesting to watch how Darren Collison plays with contact. Against the Suns, he went into a zone late, scoring often in the fourth quarter, including one shot where he absorbed contact to finish a touch jumper. Against the Thunder he seemed to shy away from it and he missed three of his four attempts in the lane. One instance in third stands out: a posted up Dirk found a cutting Collison, who actively avoided contact in the paint and blew the layup/jump shot attempt.
  • Coach Carlisle opted to go with Mike James (two points, two turnovers) first when looking for back up point guard minutes. I cannot understand why. Mike James may offer value in a mentoring role, but I don’t see the downside of playing Roddy Beaubois (seven points, two assists). Carlisle tried James, then Dominique Jones (fifteen points) and finally gave Roddy a shot in the fourth.
  • The wealth of riches that is the Thunder bench borders on absurd. Reggie Jackson and Eric Maynor are excellent back up point options. Former number two over all pick Hasheem Thabeet is effective in limited minutes. Perry Jones was initially projected as a number one over all pick. Jeremy Lamb, who isn’t even with the team at the moment, has lottery level talent, should he ever develop. Daniel Orton, a former University of Kentucky player with John Wall and Demarcus Cousins, isn’t even able to get on the floor.
  • Dallas has an 8-19 record on the road. With 34 games yet to play this season, Dallas still has two extended road trips. Starting with the last game in February, the Mavericks play seven of eight on the road. They also have a four game during their last ten regular season games.
  • Watching how Westbrook attacks the rim is at once exhilarating and terrifying. His shot chart shows that he made it a point to get to the rim against Dallas, taking 10 of his 16 shots at the rim.
  • Outside of Bernard James, the main bright spot for Dallas was Shawn Marion’s 23 points on 10 of 14 shooting. He had everything working from the opening tip and even managed to hit a wing three, his third of the season. Strangely,  he’s hit all three of these shots in 2013 after not making any during the 2012 portion of the season.
  • The shot selection of Jae Crowder continues to confuse. Against the Thunder he shot 3 for 11, which is a little below his usual road field goal percentage of 31%. Eight of his 11 shots were well outside the paint, mostly in the 15 to 18 foot range. Beyond 10 feet, Crowder is shooting 33% for the year. I didn’t follow Crowder in college, but the stats-based community was excited to see him land in Dallas. I cannot imagine the role of jump shooting wing was the vision for him.
  • Strange that Dahntay Jones only saw eight minutes of action, all of it in garbage time. I assume Carlisle thought Crowder’s strength might have made a difference on Durant, but I would have liked to seen Jones get a crack at defending Durant. Jones comes with the added bonus that he doesn’t take as many maddening shots as Crowder does.
  • Part of why Brandan Wright (four points, seven rebounds) is a marginal player on the Dallas bench is his inability to set screens consistently in the pick and roll. Its not that he doesn’t want to, but his frame is so slight he does not provide any sort of obstacle when the Dallas opponent has athletic defenders. This was illistrated in the second quarter when O.J. Mayo and Wright tried to run a pick and roll three or four times. The Thunder hedge man was able to deter Mayo and the man guarding Mayo was able to step over Wright’s screen in no time. Finally, Mayo picked up his dribble and made an errant pass which Kevin Martin picked off.
  • There was technical assessed to Kendrick Perkins (seven points, seven rebounds) in the second quarter. Play had stopped due to a Dirk foul on Russell Westbrook. Perkins made a point to seek out and body up to Jae Crowder, who had apparently talked a little trash to Perkins after hitting a shot on the ensuing possession. Crowder talking trash was stupid itself, but for Perkins to decide it warranted him playing the tough guy and getting a technical foul is silly. Oklahoma City was up 25 at that point. I do understand not taking guff, but that was poor judgement.
  • Oddly enough, Dallas still has a 19.3% chance of making the playoffs this year according to the Hollinger Playoff Odds predictor.

Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on Twitter @KirkSeriousFace for ranting about Dallas basketball, TV, movies, video games, and his dog

 

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 97, Golden State Warriors 100

Posted by Connor Huchton on February 1, 2013 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

Clouds

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.

  • For years and years, the Mavericks prided themselves on winning close games, often on the heels of a Dirk Nowitzki (DNP; injury) fadeaway. With Dirk out of the lineup and this year’s Mavericks’ team performing dreadfully in close games, the team’s sputtering finish against a deep Warriors’ squad shouldn’t surprise. But it still does, and it acts an originator of a thousand “What if’s?” What if O.J. Mayo (8-13 FG, 3-5 3PT, 6-8 FT, 25 points, six assists, five rebounds) makes both of his free throws in the final minute? What if the possible foul on Brandan Wright (4-8 FG, nine points, three rebounds) is called? What if _______? In the end, that blank space can only be filled by disappointment.
  • Like so many other Mavericks’ losses of the same brand, it’s difficult to find much issue with any aspect of the Mavericks’ game plan beyond the team’s execution in the final minutes. The Mavericks battled back and forth with Golden State all night, and fought bravely to give themselves a chance to win, albeit one which they did not ultimately take. All the same, Mayo played brilliantly and nicely utilized his transition abilities, Shawn Marion (8-11 FG, 18 points, 17 rebounds) rebounded like it was 2006, and the rest of the Mavericks collectively provided acceptable play, despite struggling with help defense on Klay Thompson (11-18 FG, 3-7 3PT, 27 points) and allowing David Lee (6-13 FG, 15 points, 20 rebounds, nine assists) to corral seven essential offensive rebounds.
  • The potency of Lee’s game appeared in full force tonight. The Mavericks did a fine job of assessing and guarding Lee in the post-up situations he often thrives on, but also at times overcommitted or lost help defense awareness, leading to Lee’s nine assists (often from passes to open shooters) and a weighty rebounding total of 20 for the All-Star power forward. Lee’s offensive game is vast, and the Mavericks were quite often an audience to the power of that vastness on Thursday night.

Pocket Pair

Posted by Ian Levy on January 31, 2013 under Commentary | 10 Comments to Read

051:365 Magic Pair!

This has been an incredibly turbulent season for the Mavericks from a player personnel standpoint. They faced their first 27 games without Dirk Nowtizki, and with just five other returning players on the roster. An NBA roster has 15 slots, but the Mavericks have already used 19 different players this season, not including Delonte West — with whom the Mavericks parted ways before the season began. Each week it seems there is a new addition to be welcomed to the fold, bringing with them the warm tidings of hope.

Since he took over in Dallas, Rick Carlisle has proved repeatedly that managing personnel is one of his greatest coaching strengths. He has been innovative and progressive in managing his lineups and always seems to pull the most from each of his players. This season however, putting the pieces together has been a constant challenge. No matter how he arranges them, they don’t seem to fit together quite as uniformly as they have in the past, and the image never becomes totally clear. I’m personally of the opinion that it’s because these pieces don’t all come from the same puzzle, and that no matter what five-man unit Carlisle runs out onto the floor, some part of it will be a hasty Spackle job trying to hold back the rising tide of flood waters. However, I thought it might be interesting to look at the different lineup foundations he’s tried by examining his success (and lack thereof) with various two-man combinations.

The visualization below lets you look at all the different two-man combinations the Mavericks have used for at least 100 minutes this season. Unfortunately, to create all the combinations I had to place several players on both axes, which can make for a slightly confusing view. The size of each square represents the number of minutes that pairing played. The color represents that pairing’s Net Rating, or point differential per 100 possessions. If you hover over any of the squares you can also see that combination’s Offensive Rating and Defensive Rating. The filters below let you include or eliminate pairings based on any of those variables.

MavsShots

***

The three least efficient areas to shoot from are inside the paint (but not in the restricted area), from mid-range and straight ahead three-pointers. Altogether, 63.7% of this lineup’s shot attempts come from those three areas. Going back to my shot-selection metric from two weeks ago, the shot selection of this lineup gives them an XPPS of 0.988, where the league average is 1.047. They feature above-average mid-range shooters, but are using that weapon to a fault. Above-average ability isn’t manifesting in above-average success, and their Actual Points Per Shot is an even lower 0.936. From an outsider’s perspective, this group seems like they may be fundamentally incompatible offensively, even with Nowitzki’s eventual improvement taken into account.

Although you never like to see anyone injured, Kaman’s concussion offers the possibility for an interesting experiment. Kaman has had a solid individual season putting up 18.8 points per 36 minutes, the second highest of his career, on a TS% of 53.3, his highest since 2008-2009. However, his rebound percentage is the lowest since his rookie season and the Mavericks have generally struggled when he’s on the floor. Dallas’ defense is 3.6 points worse per 100 possessions with Kaman in the mix, a margin that’s ultimately not all that surprising. However, the Mavs’ offense is also 2.9 points worse per 100 possessions with Kaman involved. Turning back to the visualization above, we see that Kaman is featured in 12 different pairings, only two of which have outscored the opposition. Those two — with Brandan Wright and with Jae Crowder — have played a combined 343 minutes, 44 of which are overlapped.

Much of Carlisle’s rotation work this season has felt like tinkering around the edges. As long as they’ve been healthy, the foundational pieces of Kaman, Nowitzki, Mayo and Marion have been largely cemented in place. With Kaman out, Carlisle will be forced to manipulate his foundation, and there is an opportunity for Brandan Wright and Bernard James to find their way back into the regular rotation in a significant way. Both Wright and James have been featured in several successful (albeit scarcely used) pairings, and I can’t help but feel that they are under-utilized assets. Neither player is comfortable away from the basket on offense and each would give the Mavericks a very different look than with Brand or Kaman alongside Nowitzki. When we talk about spacing issues we are usually referring to a team with a lack of outside shooters, allowing the defense to clog the paint. In this case I think the Mavericks can actually improve their spacing by removing overly-willing outside shooters; the insertion of James or Wright will force the defense to expand their focus and defend more of the floor, more vigorously.

The visualization also makes it seem that there could be potential benefits in increased roles for Vince Carter and Jae Crowder. Carter has done tremendous work in keeping the second-unit offense afloat, but maybe it’s time to let him work long more court time with Nowitzki. His ability to work inside and out, particularly as a post-up threat, seems like it could also alleviate some of the one-dimensional reliance on the mid-range jumpshot. It would be a difficult pill to swallow, but perhaps Mayo would be better off swapping places with Carter. Moving to the bench might feel like a step backwards for Mayo and could have significant impacts on team chemistry, but at this point the Mavs’ current rotation isn’t doing much for the team’s present or future.

In addition to his work for The Two Man Game, Ian Levy is the author of Hickory High, and a contributor to Indy CornrowsHardwood Paroxysm, HoopChalk and ProBasketballDraft. You can follow Ian on Twitter at @HickoryHigh.

NBA Issues Statement Over Incorrect Charge Call

Posted by Kirk Henderson on January 30, 2013 under News | Be the First to Comment

Mistake

The NBA issued a statement Wednesday afternoon with regards to a number of calls from the Tuesday night slate of games. Second on the list was an admission that the charge committed by O.J. Mayo in the 106-104 loss to the Blazers was, in fact, a block.

With 1.5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of the Dallas Mavericks-Portland Trail Blazers game on January 29, officials called a charging foul on Dallas’ OJ Mayo. After review at the league office, the video replay confirmed the play should have been ruled a blocking foul as Portland’s Ronnie Price did not get his body directly in Mayo’s path prior to him starting his upward shooting motion. Mayo should have been granted two free throws.

The video can be viewed here. Two free throws would have given Dallas a chance to take the lead after LaMarcus Aldridge had tied the game on the previous possession 104-104. Obviously a frustrating admission, since a loss last night means the Mavs have a very small likelihood of making the playoffs.

However, compare this sort of thing to the league Mark Cuban joined in 1999. This sort of admission would not have happened. It’s progress, maybe not the progress Mavs fans would like to see (such as the correct call being made at the time), but its progress nonetheless.

Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on Twitter @KirkSeriousFace for ranting about Dallas basketball, TV, movies, video games, and his dog

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 104, Portland Trailblazers 106

Posted by Kirk Henderson on under Previews | Read the First Comment

LongRoadtoGreatness

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.

  • Luck matters a lot more than we’d like to admit in close games. After all, perhaps Dallas would not have been in this game late in the fourth without a desperation Darren Collison bank three, two missed free throws from Nic Batum, or a ridiculous high, arching pass from Shawn Marion which led to a Dirk Nowitzki three pointer. Of course, that the Mavericks let a 21 point lead evaporate in 13 minutes during the third and fourth quarters is baffling. As is the fact that they gave up 15 offensive rebounds. Then, there’s also the small-ball late game line up Carlisle has opted with in close games (Collison, O.J. Mayo, Vince Carter, Dirk, and Shawn Marion) that just does not work. This was the line up with 1:15 left in the fourth with the Mavs up 101-96. Turnovers (four in the final two minutes, three alone from Mayo) due to terrible recognition and an inability to stop Portland’s offense saw Portland score nine points in 71 seconds to tie the game with four seconds remaining. The ensuing offensive foul call on Mayo was just bad luck; a high speed play that was simply called incorrectly due to human error. But a team this far gone from the playoff hunt needs luck, and the Mavericks have lost far too many close games this season. We can’t write them off just yet, but that time may be drawing near.
  • Chris Kaman is out indefinitely with a concussion. While we here at the Two Man Game wish him a speedy recovery, we’ve found out over the last few years that concussions can often be challenging to both diagnose and recover from. Over the last three weeks our parent blog, ESPN’s Truehoop, has published a series of articles about head injuries under the title “Working Bodies”. The first entry is an overview of head injuries and basketball, the second is Brian Scalabrine’s concussion tale, which prompted other players to share their concussion stories for the third entry. All are worth checking out.

Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on Twitter @KirkSeriousFace for ranting about Dallas basketball, TV, movies, video games, and his dog

 

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 110, Phoenix Suns 95

Posted by Connor Huchton on January 28, 2013 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Sunrise

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.

  • The Mavericks’ win on Sunday night could be described as a story of beginnings and endings (and that’s how I’ll describe it).
  • The starting unit began the game well, on the heels of precise ball movement and an active Shawn Marion (9-19 FG, 18 points, nine rebounds, five assists), and finished equally adeptly, as Dirk Nowitzki (7-14 FG, 18 points, seven rebounds) closed out the fourth quarter with the scoring precision of, well, Dirk Nowitzki.
  • Bernard James (1-2 FG, two points, three rebounds, 11 minutes) started the game at center for the Mavericks and performed well enough, though James’ 11 minutes may be indicative of the move’s dual purpose as a means of motivating Chris Kaman (2-4 FG, six points, five rebounds, two turnovers, 11 minutes). Neither James or Kaman served as part of the best pairing with Dirk, however.
  • That distinction lies with Elton Brand (6-10 FG, 12 points, three rebounds, 17 minutes), as it has much of the time in recent weeks.
  • I’d be remiss to write any further without mentioning that Dirk passed Allen Iverson for 18th all-time on the NBA’s scoring list. Well done, Dirk.
  • And hopefully his ascension towards further tiers of that list continues.
  • Though their numbers weren’t gaudy, the Mavericks’ guards deserve credit for a job admirably done. O.J. Mayo (4-9 FG, eight points, six assists), Darren Collison (3-7, eight points, five assists), Dahntay Jones (4-5 FG, 11 points), Vince Carter (5-8 FG, 2-3 3PT, 15 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals), and Rodrigue Beaubois (3-7 FG, eight points, three assists, three rebounds) collectively played quite well, and their overall decision-making radiated excellency.
  • That excellent decision-making propelled the Mavericks to 26 assists and only 13 turnovers, good for an aesthetically pleasing 2:1 ratio.
  • All 13 active Mavericks earned playing time, which in this case was indicative of a comfortable win.
  • Another key to the Mavericks’ victory was how well they spaced the floor.
  • Guards were able to make post passes into feasibly-sized windows, and areas of the floor were often carefully sectioned off for the sake of Shawn Marion, Dirk, or cutting guards (Mayo, Beaubois, etc.) on their way to the basket.
  • That element of movement and spacing is absolutely crucial for a team that’s been frequently mired in offensive stagnancy.
  • Four Mavericks’ centers played significant minutes tonight, which give some insight into the current revolving door of Mavericks’ center minutes.
  • Brandan Wright (1-3 FG, four points, three rebounds, three assists) was the fourth center used tonight. He first saw minutes in the fourth quarter and helped spark a momentous run with keen passes near the basket and an important finish.
  • Wright was also the only Maverick to make less than 42% of his shots, another mark of a thoroughly efficient offensive performance.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 107, San Antonio Spurs 113

Posted by Kirk Henderson on January 25, 2013 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

GoldenSpurs

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.

  • If one was to look at the final score without knowing anything about the game, it appears to be a real improvement from earlier Mavs-Spurs match ups. It was not. That the Mavericks whittled a 26 point Spurs lead to four is nice, but that they were down 26 at all is cause for alarm. With Tim Duncan out, Gregg Popovich not coaching, and Manu Ginobli only playing eight minutes, Dallas should have been able to stay with the Spurs. Instead, team defense was atrocious and the offense stagnant for most of the game.
  • I’m starting to get concerned about Dirk Nowitzki’s role. While he had 14 shot attempts against the Spurs, he often goes very long stretches of time without an attempt. Dirk took one shot to start the second quarter, then didn’t shoot again until just over a minute left in the period. While he was on the bench for some of that 10 minute stretch, I believe Dirk should be the focal point for consistent stretches as opposed to short outbursts. He is making a concerted effort to get his teammates involved, as evidenced by his four assists in the first quarter. But outside of the other starters and Chris Kaman, I don’t like Dirk passing up a shot to feed Mike James on the baseline as he did with 6:45 left in the fourth.
  • Dallas could not find an effective pick and roll coverage against Tony Parker (23 points, 10 assists) or Gary Neal (18 points, six assists). Carlisle attempted to trap the ball handler with Kaman in first half, which resulted in DeJuan Blair (22 points on 10 of 13 shooting) going off as the roll man. Both ball handlers were easily able to pass around any trap attempt.  In the second half, Carlisle elected to have Darren Collison (who still seems shocked every time he runs into a screen) trail Parker over the top of screens and Parker responded by hitting a variety of really tough shots.
  • Well would you look at that, a Roddy Beaubois (19 points on 6 of 8 shooting, and five free throws) sighting! He scored more points against the Spurs than he did the entire month of December (15). It’d be a boost for Dallas if they could somehow get some burn from Roddy. He’s incredibly athletic and instinctual, and his play can change the pace for a Dallas team that can be athletically challenged, particularly in the half court.
  • Someone needs to have an intervention for Jae Crowder and his shot selection. Every single shot he attempted was 17 feet or farther from the rim. In the first quarter he pulled up to take an uncontested jumper on a fast break when he had a clear attempt at the rim. He tried to make up for this in the second period by attacking the rim on a fast break, only to commit a turnover by running over Manu Ginobli. Later in the quarter he stole the ball from Tiago Splitter after a rebound and decided to shoot a three while at least two of his teammates were not yet past half court. In the fourth, when Dallas was making a fast and furious run, Crowder shot a contested 17 footer from the baseline that caused Jeff Van Gundy to question whether Crowder understands his role on the team.  He missed every single shot until a prayer three fell when the game was out of reach. Jae needs to spend a little more time modeling his game after Shawn Marion and a little less emulating Josh Howard.
  • If Dallas hopes to make the playoffs, losing games against short handed teams is no longer an option. Currently, eleventh in the West, Dallas still has an outside chance to make the playoffs. Portland and Minnesota are stumbling and the Lakers manage to keep lowering the bar. If the Mavericks take care of business and either Utah or Houston stumble down the stretch, the eight seed is still in reach. Some luck will be involved, but in order for that to be a factor, Dallas has to close out these winnable games.

Kirk is a member of the Two Man Game family. Follow him on Twitter @KirkSeriousFace for ranting about Dallas basketball, TV, movies, video games, and his dog.

 

Thermodynamics: Week 13

Posted by Travis Wimberly on January 24, 2013 under Commentary, Recaps | Read the First Comment

Fire Ice Birds

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

The Mavs played just two games this week (1-1), so this will be a relatively lean and mean installment of Thermodynamics. Still, there’s plenty to talk about, especially given that both games went down to the wire.

Week 13 (Thunder, @Magic)

FIRE

1) Bench Play

I’ve broadly labeled this item “Bench Play,” but I’m really talking about two bench players in particular: Vince Carter and Elton Brand. Both guys produced well this week. In Friday’s nationally televised bout with OKC, Carter was the Mavs’ leading scorer and probably their best overall performer. He dropped 29 points and had an effective field-goal percentage (eFG%) of 71. Further, despite handling the ball extensively, he had zero turnovers in 32 minutes of action. In Orlando on Sunday, Carter didn’t shoot well from two-point range, but he had a solid all-around game: 15 points (50 eFG%), six assists, and three blocks. And to the extent you find value in single-game plus-minus numbers, Carter was the Mavs’ plus-minus leader for both games (+10 against OKC, +22 against Orlando).

The other half of this bench duo, Brand, also deserves commendation. It wasn’t a torrid shooting week like he had earlier in January, but Brand made an impact in several phases. He averaged 12 PPG, shot a cumulative 11-of-24 (46%), and chipped in nearly 10 rebounds per game. His 13-rebound performance against OKC was especially needed, as the Thunder (predictably) abused the other, less-athletic Mavs on the boards by grabbing 18 offensive rebounds (five in the fourth quarter and overtime alone).

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Quiet Value

Posted by David Hopkins on January 22, 2013 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

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“Enough! Again must I contend with the creatures of this tiny world. They who, alone in all creation, have stymied my will.” – Galactus, Devourer of Worlds

With half the season over and done with, and a couple days off before facing San Antonio, it’s a good time to reflect on what we’ve seen so far from the Mavs. It was a strange time for this franchise in flux. The Mavs had a good hard look at the world without Nowitzki and shuddered. The Mavs endured more blowout losses than would be considered healthy for the fragile psyche of a new team. The rotations have been confounding at times. (Was it just me or did Derek Fisher play on the Mavericks for a few days? Was that real?) The Mavs dipped farther below 500 than they had in a long, long time. And yet, there’s been an encouraging push in recent days that moved the playoffs back into conversation.

If the Mavericks were to award MVP honors at mid-season, by most statistical indicators, it would go to O.J. Mayo. If you look at ESPN’s Hollinger stats page, O.J. Mayo has the highest “player efficiency rating” on the team at 16.8 (Not counting Brandan Wright’s astounding 21.08 PER. However, Carlisle has Wright nailed to the bench. It’s a debate for another time, but whose minutes do you subtract to give more time to Wright?) O.J. Mayo has the highest “value added” at 141.4, and the highest “estimated wins added” at 4.7. Mayo’s true shooting percentage is .001 behind Collison, who has the team’s highest percentage at .583 (once again not counting Wright, sigh). Another interesting figure cited by our own Bryan Gutierrez on the weekly rundown, O.J. Mayo has the second highest “clutch time production” in the league, i.e. the last 5 minutes in the fourth quarter with the score within 5 points.

To quote Dennis Velasco from the Basketball Jones, “O.J. Mayo had to settle for a one-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks this offseason, but so far the numbers he’s put up have been quite impressive. If life were a cartoon, his agents would have dollar signs in their eyes. He’s having the best season of his career…”

All true, but I would award the mid-season MVP to a more quiet performance. He’s someone so reliable, he almost goes unnoticed. In my opinion, Shawn Marion saved this season.

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