The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 99, Sacramento Kings 60

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 15, 2012 under Recaps | Read the First Comment

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

  • Back-to-back games against the struggling Milwaukee Bucks and the perpetually befuddled Sacramento Kings weren’t going to test the Mavs’ competitive fiber, but they did end testing the Mavs’ limits. In two straight games, we got to see exactly what kind of dominance this Mavericks team is capable of, and though the level of competition gives these two huge wins a certain disclaimer, demolishing lesser teams does have a decent correlation with long-term success. More importantly: after being on the receiving end of a couple of routs to begin the season, Dallas is finally making legitimate strides in their efforts to create balance.
  • It’s fantastic and reassuring and all kinds of confusing that the Mavs are able to be this good with Dirk Nowitzki averaging just 12.5 points in the last two games. Some of that is a function of playing time (particularly because of the Mavs’ tendency to work through Nowitzki late in close games), but the marginal nature of Nowitzki’s involvement has been apparent irrelevant of his production. Dirk’s still doing work, he’s just doing substantially less than he did at any point last season.
  • Congratulations to the Kings, who now have the honor of posting the lowest point total for any Maverick opponent in a half, the lowest point total in a half in Kings franchise history, the lowest point total for a Maverick opponent in a game, the fewest field goals made by a Maverick opponent, the lowest single-game field goal percentage in Kings franchise history, and the lowest single-game field goal percentage mark for any Maverick opponent overall. Gold stars all around.

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Dallas Mavericks 99, Sacramento Kings 91: Abridged

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 3, 2010 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images.

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A really great talent finds its happiness in execution.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  • Last night, the Mavs treated the basketball court as a place of business. They were ruthless and relentless in their offense (pushing the ball upcourt against the Kings’ weak transition defense is almost cruel), and smart and decisive with their defense. The final margin is ultimately pretty deceptive, as Dallas was thoroughly dominant in the second half…with the exception of the final, irrelevant three minutes, in which the Kings rattled off an 11-0 run. But this was a very effective game in terms of gameplanning and execution, and though wins over the Kings aren’t typically hung on the refrigerator, this one was nice.
  • Tyreke Evans (14 points, 6-18 FG, 5 rebounds, six assists) is a beast, and the focal point of Sacramento’s offense. As such, the Mavs employed a lot of zone and help schemes specifically designed to counter Evans’ driving ability. It certainly worked, as ‘Reke wasn’t given any space to charge down the lane and was forced into taking a lot of contested runners and long jumpers. That’s a successful night of taking away the other team’s primary offensive option, even if the Kings aren’t considered an elite offensive team (though it’s worth noting that they are a respectable 13th in the league in offensive efficiency).
  • The Maverick defense also did an excellent job of forcing turnovers during critical runs in the second and third quarters. Most were forced either directly (the Mavs had 11 steals to the Kings’ 16 turnovers) or indirectly (quick rotations, aggressive on-ball defense) by the Mavs, which is a defensive area in which Dallas typically struggles. The Mavs have done an excellent job this year of keeping their opponents’ efficiency, shooting percentages, and free throw attempts down, but they’ve never quite figured out how to bump up their opponents’ respective turnover rates. The Kings’ turnover numbers (both raw and rate) on the night are not all that impressive for Dallas, but over a two quarter stretch, the Mavs were very effective in both forcing turnovers and capitalizing on them.
  • I’m not sure what kind of rehabilitation program Jason Kidd (14 points, 6-7 FG, 2-2 3FG, seven assists, three steals) has done for his layups, but it’s working. The man who seemed utterly incapable of making a shot attempt at the rim is suddenly wowing with his ability to finish, as evidenced by his flashy layup attempt with around four minutes remaining in the second quarter (video hopefully forthcoming).
  • Another disappointing game from Erick Dampier (two points, four rebounds, two turnovers), who was unable to match the energy of Jason Thompson (15 points, 7-15 FG, 10 rebounds. Enter Drew Gooden (eight points, 10 rebounds, two steals, two blocks). Drew wasn’t a compromise defensively like he has been in some games this season, and he was the game’s most dominant rebounder (his one-game total rebounding rate was 22.8, which more than doubled every other Maverick). The center position has been a bit of a give-and-take for the Mavs of late, which may be for the best; Dallas is best served having one effective center on a nightly basis rather than having both show up some nights and neither show up on others. Obviously it’s preferable that both Dampier and Gooden find ways to contribute effectively, but for now I’ll take Gooden as an insurance policy.
  • Dirk (25 points, 8-18 FG, seven rebounds) looked to regain a bit of his shooting form after missing a few early jumpshots. Credit Nowitzki getting to the rim and to the line, as nine of Dirk’s first 11 points came on dunks, layups, and free throws.
  • I like the Kings’ Donte Greene more than most, and I’m convinced he can be a legit NBA scorer on a consistent basis. But after watching Greene cover Dirk for stretches (and guard Kobe Bryant late in recent games between the Kings and Lakers, both of which ended tragically), I can’t help but think that Paul Westphal overestimates Greene’s current defensive abilities or has even fewer options than we realize. Greene has the potential to be an extremely versatile defender (he’s 6’11” and has started for the Kings at shooting guard), but man-up on Dirk? On Kobe? Really?
  • A completely nondescript night from Shawn Marion (six points, five rebounds, a block). Games like these are tough for Marion because the Kings don’t have an obvious wing threat (at least not currently; Kevin Martin remains on the shelf), which limits what Marion can do for the Mavs on the defensive end. And considering how well J.J. Barea (17 points, 7-13 FG, three assists, four turnovers) and Josh Howard (16 points, 6-13 FG, three rebounds, three assists) were playing, Marion was squeezed out and played just 27 minutes.
  • Now, some of you might read that above bullet point about the Kings’ wings, and scratch your head. Omri Casspi (22 points, 7-16 FG, 4-6 3FG, 11 rebounds, four assists) was absolutely swell, and positionally he should be matched up directly against Shawn Marion. But the Mavs opted to neutralize Evans rather than worry about the Kings’ three-point shooters. Casspi exploited that fact even if the rest of the Kings didn’t (without Casspi, the Kings shot just 2-14 from beyond the arc). It’s the risk you take when trying to stop a team’s most dominant offensive player, and though Omri played quite well, the Mavs can live with that.

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Waiting for Terrence

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 25, 2009 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

I’ve made it perfectly clear that I believe Terrence Williams to be an ideal fit for the Mavs.  He’s a hellish defender, an excellent rebounder for his position, and a crutch for our point guard of the future.  I think he would easily be Antoine Wright and more.

Unfortunately, the Mavs aren’t Williams’ other suitor.  Terrence seems to have a guarantee, and based on the mutual interest from both parties, it’s a fair bet that said guarantee is coming from the New Jersey Nets with the 11th pick.  If not there, then perhaps with the Charlotte Bobcats at 12.  Williams seems to have climbed from within the Mavs’ range to clear out of sight, leaving us with little hope of seeing him in Maverick blue.

That said, there’s no harm in waiting.  There is some harm, however, in dealing down two spots in the draft with a team earmarking similar needs.

In college, Williams was a small forward.  He’s capable of playing that position in the NBA, even if he doesn’ t quite have the height to match the towers of that position.  And if he does, for one reason or another, slip ‘n slide all the way to the 22 spot in the draft, could you really see Portland passing up Williams in favor of Omri Casspi?  Casspi is 6’9”, but many of his strengths are things that Williams can easily replicate (strengths lists courtesy of Draft Express):

Essentially, Casspi’s strengths are eclipsed by Williams’.  Terrence also brings the added benefit of relieving ball pressure from Brandon Roy, and playing a point forward role with the second unit.  For a team that features Jerryd Bayless and Steve Blake as point guards, that’s actually a pretty decent alternative.

I’m not sure how high (or low) the Blazers are on Williams, but I do know this: if they’re on the clock with both still on the board, is it even possible that Portland passes up the superior, more versatile talent?

There’s No News Like Draft News

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 24, 2009 under News | 3 Comments to Read

The Mavs have agreed to a deal in principle with the Portland Trailblazers, trading the 22nd pick in the draft for the 24th pick, the 56th pick, and a 2010 second rounder.

Chad Ford seems to believe that the Blazers have their sights set on Omri Casspi.  The Israeli wing may have caught the eye of the Sacramento Kings, who currently hold the 23rd pick.

Credit to the Mavs; this counts as activity.  If Casspi is indeed the guy for either Sacramento or Portland, then this deal isn’t likely to affect the Mavs’ options.  Casspi hasn’t been linked to the Mavs aside from a few rumors early in the process, mostly because he plays the same position as Josh Howard.  The Mavs are likely drafting for some combination of need and best talent available, and Casspi’s stock drops a bit with the Mavs because of that SF label.  He’s still a fairly intriguing prospect in my eyes, but this trade (if Ford’s buzz is indeed correct) seems to indicate otherwise.

So the gameplan going into the draft tomorrow is more or less the same: find a valuable starter, preferably one who can provide depth in the frontcourt, blossom into a starting shooting guard, or give a glimmer of hope at the point.  The trade does, however, allow the Mavs to take a shot at a second rounder.  There are some intriguing names that may fall to the second round (Nick Calathes, Patty Mills, Marcus Thornton, Wayne Ellington, Dionte Christmas), meaning the Mavs may have milked some real value out of their pick.