Thermodynamics: Week 4

Posted by Travis Wimberly on November 23, 2012 under Commentary, Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Fire and Ice

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

A day late (blame the tryptophan-induced coma), but never a dollar short. It’s time for our weekly breakdown of the Mavs’ three hottest and three coldest performances.

This was an interesting week for the Mavs. They were blown out by the Indiana Pacers, but then bounced back the next night in Cleveland against a bad (though young and spry) Cavaliers squad. After a fairly woeful home loss to the Golden State Warriors, the Mavs proceeded to take down the league-leading New York Knicks on the strength of a (mostly) impressive second-half comeback.

So who was hot? And who was not? I’m glad you asked….

Week 4 (@Pacers, @Cavaliers, Warriors, Knicks)

FIRE

1) OJ Mayo

Make it three in a row on the hot list for Mayo. Once again, the Mavs’ starting shooting guard was excellent offensively. He shot 32-of-60 (53%) on the week, including 10-of-21 (48%) from long range. He led the Mavs in scoring all four games, dropping 19 points in each of the first two games and 27 points in each of the latter two. His assist numbers weren’t great (3.5 per game), but they didn’t need to be. With Dirk Nowitzki still on the mend, Mayo’s primary responsibility is to score. He’s doing just that, and he’s doing so quite efficiently. Mayo is currently 8th in the NBA in scoring (22.2 PPG), and among the top 10 scorers in the league, he has the lowest usage rate (25.3%) and the the highest effective field-goal percentage (61%). In other words, Mayo isn’t racking up points by dominating the ball. He’s being judicious, taking mostly good shots, and making them at a very impressive (though likely unsustainable) clip.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 114, New York Knicks 111

Posted by Connor Huchton on November 22, 2012 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Clouds

Box ScorePlay-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.

  • On a night of needed triumph for the Mavericks, it’s difficult to decide what should lead The Difference: Vince Carter’s (9-17 FG, 5-10 3PT, 25 points) surprise fourth quarter domination, or another night of overarching and essential offensive efficiency from O.J. Mayo (10-17 FG, 27 points). I’ll choose neither, and mention what a relief it was to see Darren Collison (7-11 FG, 19 points, seven assists) back in early season form. The offense fell into step with Collison’s passing surge, and the Mavericks were able to limit turnovers and capitalize on open three-point opportunities (13-29 from beyond the arc). Even with Dirk injured, three-point shooting is central to the team’s identity and success, especially given how well Mayo, Carter, and Jae Crowder (4-6 FG, 3-5 3PT, 12 points, four rebounds) have shot from beyond the arc this season.
  • Speaking of Crowder, it was nice to see him back in the rotation and contributing immediately. His reaction after he made a three early in the game summed up the Mavericks’ night: an important moment of victory in the context of recent failure, and a huge relief in terms of the team’s prospects until Dirk returns. (Side note: Shawn Marion continues to be simultaneously fantastic and underrated on defense. That vital close on Carmelo Anthony’s jumper in the final seconds wasn’t perfect, but it was enough to cause a moment of crucial hesitation.)
  • It’s almost jarring how much more relaxed and smooth O.J. Mayo’s game as a whole has become in Dallas – there’s a fluidity and calmness to the way he creates space and pulls up for jumpers that almost never existed in Memphis. Perhaps that’s a product of how his role has largely shifted and expanded, and perhaps it’s due to the natural growth some players find in their mid-20′s. It likely stems from both the natural and situational, and Mayo’s dual evolution as a player couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for the Mavericks. At least in the short-term, he’s the relentless conductor that guides the Mavericks’ offense. That was never more obvious than tonight, as Mayo kept the Mavericks in the game through offensive lulls and quickly found Collison and Carter around the perimeter in key moments.

The Difference: Portland Trail Blazers 99, Dallas Mavericks 97

Posted by Connor Huchton on April 7, 2012 under Recaps, xOther | 4 Comments to Read

Mountains

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot 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.

  • One game removed from one of their best team performances of the season, the Mavericks turned in one of their worst. As disappointing as the final minutes of this game were, the far more significant failing came in the third quarter. The Mavericks played their worst 12 minutes of the season, and turned a 12-point lead into an eight-point deficit. In every basketball sense, the seemingly unending third quarter was a complete and total disaster. Ball movement was nonexistent, the effectiveness of the Mavericks’ pick-and-roll was completely neutralized, and the Mavericks’ interior defense was porous, if present at all. It was the best possible representation of this team’s seasonal inconsistency from game-to-game and quarter-to-quarter — two strong opening quarters fully erased by 12 minutes of uninspired, directionless play. The Mavericks played three fairly strong quarters on Thursday night, but it didn’t matter. Of course, Raymond Felton’s sudden offensive explosion (30 points, 12-18 FG, seven rebounds, six assists) didn’t help the Mavericks’ chances, but a good portion of his success stemmed from gifted wide-open jumpers and easy layups. The Mavericks fought back impressively from the unlikely Felton-led third quarter charge once the fourth quarter began, as they are wont to do, and forced overtime. After minutes of neutral overtime play, the game remained tied in the final seconds.
  • And so we arrive at the final two possessions of the game. The first possession, however, was hardly a possession at all. It was tragically brief. It began with a Dirk Nowitzki (23 points, 9-16 FG, 14 rebounds) rebound, and ended almost instantly with a pass sailing out of bounds. Dirk’s attempted pass to a streaking Shawn Marion (6-11 FG, 12 points, 11 rebounds) can’t be faulted on a decision-making level. It was the right play, and one that would have given the Mavericks a two-point lead if executed correctly. Unfortunately, the pass missed its mark by a good margin, and the Blazers were given a final possession in a tie game. On that climactic possession, the Mavericks played beautiful defense, until only 3.7 seconds remained. Jason Terry (7-14 FG, 18 points) began the possession fronting LaMarcus Aldridge (11-24 FG, 25 points, 12 rebounds) in conjunction with Brendan Haywood (1-5 FG, two points, six rebounds), but Aldridge was able to break free when Terry turned to chase a sprinting Nicolas Batum (3-9 FG, six points, nine rebounds, five assists). This left Haywood solely covering Aldridge, meaning a star post player was now in impeccable, isolated post position as the final few seconds ticked down to zero. I don’t tend to like the idea of Haywood covering Aldridge, as Haywood’s simply not quick enough to cover the sudden, instant movements of a power forward like Aldridge. Aldridge used that speed disparity to his advantage, along with a sneakily placed forearm push, and created enough space for an open jumper. The final shot fell as the buzzer sounded, and the Mavericks were dealt their 25th loss to a thoroughly scattered, average Blazers’ team.

Connor Huchton is a contributor to Hardwood Paroxysm, an editor of Rufus On Fire, and a part of The Two Man Game family. You can follow Connor on Twitter: @ConnorHuchton.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 97, Portland Trail Blazers 94

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 12, 2012 under xOther | Read the First Comment

Screen shot 2012-02-11 at 11.27.51 PM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot Chart – Game Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas105.092.450.022.622.719.9
Portland89.538.719.620.312.5

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

  • There are games so good they’re worthy of extra minutes, and then there was the painful war of attrition between the Mavs and Blazers on this particular Saturday night. Dallas typically pens a loving letter to the game of basketball with each perfectly executed late-game possession, but the final touches of this particular victory were predicated on seeing how many jumpers Raymond Felton (nine points, 4-17 FG, three turnovers) could be tricked into taking and how many tough, pull-up jumpers Delonte West (10 points, 5-11 FG, four assists, four steals, three turnovers) could convert in a row. That ended up working out just fine, but not before both teams missed and fumbled and effectively blew possession after possession. This wasn’t at all an unwatchable game (the Mavs’ first-half offense was actually quite productive, and the Blazers’ pressure D in the second-half kept things pretty interesting), but neither team played well, and the ticking clock turned the entire affair into a pressure cooker. Dallas ultimately ended up managing the chaos a bit better than Portland did, but I have a hard time saying that the Mavs really played significantly better basketball than their opponents.

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The Difference: Denver Nuggets 104, Dallas Mavericks 96

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 7, 2011 under Recaps | Be the First to Comment

Screen shot 2011-04-07 at 1.08.17 PM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas91.0105.551.916.334.917.6
Denver114.352.316.328.615.4

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

  • All things considered, the Mavs did not play poorly. They merely played one half relatively so. The natural temptation is to pin the outcome of this game on that decisive 10-2 sprint that Denver used to finish out the game, but the initial 24 minutes mattered far more than the final two and a half. That kind of letdown was unfortunate considering how resilient Dallas had been in the second half until that point, but the Mavs put themselves in a position to lose this game with their defensive follies in the game’s opening half. Tactical errors were part of the problem (Dallas was really blitzing screen-and-rolls in the first half, which Denver exploited with excellent ball movement), but the larger issues were in execution; the Mavs were scrambling all over the place, and that almost obscured the fact that Dallas’ defenders were losing track of ball-handlers and cutters left and right. Things tightened up in the second half, but there was a reason why Denver was shooting well from the field at the end of the first half.
  • This game does, however, come with it’s own built-in excuses, should the Mavs choose to lean on them: Jason Kidd sat out this game in order to rest for the playoffs, and Tyson Chandler is still nursing a minor injury to his lower back. Chandler’s absence was certainly a factor in the way Dallas performed on the defensive end, but it’s not as if Brendan Haywood (19 rebounds, eight offensive boards, five blocks) was dead weight. Haywood looked charged to be a starter again, and though his rotations just don’t quite measure up to Chandler’s, Haywood was doing everything he could to stop the Nuggets inside. It just wasn’t the same, and it wasn’t enough. Chandler alone wouldn’t have guaranteed the Mavs a win, and that’s precisely the point; Dallas got a lot out of Haywood, and had plenty of other things go right. But unless they can work out some of the kinks in their play on both ends, Dallas’ playoff run is going to look a lot like this game. (Note: I explored a similar theme for the Daily Dime. See Box #2)
  • The good news: Corey Brewer logged nearly 20 minutes of action, and played some tremendous basketball. It wasn’t just defense, either; Brewer did his work by jumping passing lanes, defending on the ball, and hustling back to contest shots in transition, but he also nailed spot-up jumpers and finished a few drives. Brewer certainly isn’t a player without weakness, but he performed quite well offensively on this particular night, and his play warrants serious consideration for a role as a rotation mainstay. However, as Carlisle knows and Mavs fans will soon find out: those corner threes and shots from the short corner won’t be falling every game.
  • Shawn Marion (21 points, 10-14 FG, 10 rebounds, four offensive boards) was a terrific on offense. He eventually got pulled late in the game for some lazy defense, but Marion was a worthy second fiddle, scoring on runners, post-ups, and second chance opportunities. He was the first to every loose ball on the offensive end, and between his efficiency and Haywood’s offensive rebounding, the Mavs very nearly pulled together a win. That’s what the game’s all about, people: maximizing efficiency on a possession-by-possession basis, and giving your team as many possible possessions to utilize.
  • Rodrigue Beaubois (six points, 2-7 FG, one assist, four turnovers) had an opportunity to initiate the offense on a more consistent basis, but had a hard time consistently creating for his teammates. There was a bit of trial and error, which is to be expected, but I do think the entire experience should remind everyone of exactly what it is that Jason Kidd does. Any point guard can make passes, but Kidd makes perfectly placed ones. Even on days when he only registers six or seven assists, he places the ball so well with his teammates that it forces defenses to react in a particular and overt way. Beaubois can run through the sets, doing more or less the same things that Kidd does, but when it finally comes time to make that pass, or find the cutter, Beaubois just isn’t as able. Kidd makes his fair share of turnovers and mistakes, but even with the giveaways piling up, Kidd nonetheless retains the ability to make those perfectly placed passes.
  • Related: Should these two teams meet in the first round of the playoffs (and that remains a distinct possibility, given how well the Thunder are playing and how many losses the Mavs have picked up lately), Kidd’s influence would be considerable. Denver forces a ton of turnovers, and uses those steals and deflections to create fast break opportunities to fuel their offense. Kidd may take risks, but in his stead, Beaubois, Jason Terry, and J.J. Barea combined for 12 giveaways. That’s a huge swing in the Nuggets’ favor, and one that wouldn’t be quite so glaring had Kidd suited up.
  • Though the Mavs did pay the price for their pick-and-roll coverage at times, Dallas’ ability to keep Ty Lawson (nine points, 3-12 FG, eight assists) under wraps was impressive. Lawson has been performing at an All-Star level since the Carmelo Anthony trade, but he wasn’t a significant offensive factor on Wednesday night. Denver can adjust to that situation better than any other team in the league (Raymond Felton simply stepped up when needed, and the Nuggets on the whole showed off some beautiful passing), but it’s certainly positive to see Dallas defend a capable, lightning-quick point guard well.
  • Meanwhile, Dallas’ own waterbug was splitting double-teams and slicing to the rim. J.J. Barea had a hell of a game off the dribble, and though Beaubois was technically starting in place of Jason Kidd, it was Barea who ended up with the ball in his hands for most of the game. That strategy seemed to backfire when Barea committed a costly turnover with just two minutes remaining and the Mavs trailing by four, but 12 points on 12 shots from Barea to go along with 10 assists is a nice return. The aforementioned four turnovers hurt, but Barea was creating off the bounce, a skill that grants him a unique value in the context of this team.

The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 113, New York Knicks 97

Posted by Rob Mahoney on February 3, 2011 under Recaps | 4 Comments to Read

Screen shot 2011-02-03 at 7.12.52 PM

Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FT/FGORB%TOR
Dallas97.0116.556.521.425.615.5
New York100.045.519.310.28.2

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

  • Not every game goes according to the script, but this one went just right. The team that plays good defense played good defense, and the team that regularly fails to rotate and exposes a hollow interior did so splendidly. Most teams — even those at the bottom of the rankings in defensive efficiency — don’t give up quite as many wide open looks as the Knicks do. It’s just part of a run-of-the-mill Knick game these days. Part of their charm, I suppose. They certainly have their games where they really dig in defensively, but on the whole this is what you get with New York post-Felton’s drop-off. They’re good, but push the right buttons on D and they’re imminently beatable.
  • Dallas went to work on the offensive glass, grabbing 25.6% of the available boards on that end. Typically these things even out for Dallas; they’re a poor defensive rebounding team, and even on their better offensive rebounding nights, allow their opponents to break even on the glass. Not so on Wednesday, as New York posted a lowly 10.2 offensive rebounding percentage.
  • If you look at the offensive rebounding distribution, you’ll find that while Tyson Chandler had three offensive boards, you’ll find that the rest of the Mavs stepped up to grab a board here and there: DeShawn Stevenson had two, and Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki, J.J. Barea, Jason Terry, and Shawn Marion each grabbed an offensive rebound of their own. This is a bit misleading; Tyson Chandler was a tap-out machine on the offensive end, and had the opportunity to swat a mess of loose balls toward open teammates. Credit to the rest of the Mavs for hustling and not giving up on those opportunities, but it was Chandler that really created them.
  • Dirk Nowitzki finished with 29 points and 11 rebounds, but his 10-of-16 shooting is the far more notable mark. One would expect Dirk to capitalize on a cast of undersized defenders, but that’s a level of efficiency we really haven’t seen out of Nowitzki since he rushed back from injury. There should be no mistaken declarations that Nowitzki is “BACK!”, but he’s inching closer, looking more and more himself by the day.
  • Brian Cardinal again started for Dallas, and made but a single field goal in his 10 minutes of play. Not terrific, but this wasn’t his game; Cardinal isn’t on the team so he can hustle up and down the court to keep pace with New York. Cardinal was replaced to start the second half, and that turned out to be a pretty smooth move by Rick Carlisle.
  • Shawne Williams blocked one of Dirk Nowitzki’s jumpers solely for the irony.
  • I’m pretty sure Brendan Haywood airballed a baseline hook from the low right block. Foul or deflection aside, I’m not even sure how that happens.
  • Barea (22 points, 7-12 FG, 3-4 3FG, three rebounds, three assists, three turnovers) was a monster. This is the second 3-of-4 shooting night Barea has had from beyond the arc in about a week, but it’s his ability to get deep into the paint and generate points that keys his value. The Mavs’ defense acted as a catalyst for their periodic runs, but Barea was just as influential. He energized and produced like none of his teammates could, and is as much a reason why Dallas won as anyone else.
  • One more note about Barea: even on his lesser nights, Barea forces the action. Cardinal is a fairly passive offensive player; he doesn’t put pressure on the defense in any meaningful way, and tries to limit his defensive assignment rather than hound them. Barea drives and explores the paint, and on defense he tries to draw offensive fouls constantly. That means something, and in this particular game, it meant quite a bit.
  • Wilson Chandler’s absence was a pretty big deal. Amar’e Stoudemire (21 points, 10-20 FG, five rebounds, four assists) and Danilo Gallinari (27 points, 7-14 FG, six rebounds) were the only Knicks who could score with any frequency, and Chandler can create a bit for himself and bank on spot-up/slashing opportunities. Toney Douglas did what he could to act as a stopgap, but the trickle down from Chandler’s absence was pretty damning.
  • Felton’s (11 points, 9-14 FG, nine assists) fall back to Earth is as much his fault as it is the basketball gods’. He takes some really horrible shot attempts, and though that habit was bearable when he was making a ton of those questionable jumpers early in the season, his tendency to launch long, pull-up twos has bitten these team quite a few times in recent weeks.
  • The lulls in the Mavs’ offense were of their own fault. Believe it or not, there is comfort in that; when given the choice between a team like the Knicks halting the Mavs in their sets or Dallas simply blustering their execution, I think most would prefer the means that allows the Mavs to maintain their agency.
  • What more could I possibly add about Tyson Chandler (15 points, 6-9 FG, 11 rebounds)? He’s become this season’s constant. He’s been fantastic over the last seven games in particular, during which he’s been exactly the kind of crutch the team has needed him to be.

Dallas Mavericks 89, Charlotte Bobcats 84

Posted by Rob Mahoney on March 2, 2010 under Recaps | 5 Comments to Read

Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images.

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGameFlow

“I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.”
-William Allen White

This game was not beautiful. It wasn’t a sight to behold, aesthetically pleasing, or even “ehhh, kinda cute.” This was an ugly affair in which neither team could perform at any competent level offensively, and though the final margin was relatively tight, there wasn’t a photo finish of any kind. The defenses just mucked up the game in every regard, and any chance at having a good game was slashed with each forced turnover.

And it was absolutely glorious.

There are contests where both teams just can’t buy a bucket, and the Bobcats have been a part of plenty of them. But this was simply a triumph of defense, as the Bobcats held down the Mavs for nearly the entire game, and Dallas managed a defensive exhibition all its own. It wasn’t a clinic; neither team’s performance in this game will be flagged in the annals of the NBA, because despite how grand the defense was at times, it simply didn’t meet historical levels of greatness. But as far as ugly, early March games go, this one was surprisingly fulfilling.

Part of that is because while last night’s affair wasn’t necessarily a good game, it was certainly a good win. The Mavs only led for two minutes and 10 seconds prior to the fourth quarter, and they again overcame a double-digit lead in the second half to pull out the victory. Their own inability to stop Charlotte’s limited offense in the first half had a lot to do with that lead, but the Mavs holding the Bobcats to a 31-point second half was far more impressive than allowing them a 53-point first half was distressing. It’d be nice to see Dallas thoroughly dominate teams for 48 minutes, but asking that is pretty unrealistic. Instead, take pride in the fact that the Mavs refuse to cede significant ground to their opponents even during their worst stretches, and there’s absolutely no disputing their fourth-quarter effectiveness. This is a team that was built to endure, and while the first three quarters consist of some feeling out and ‘guess and check’ work, the final twelve minutes is where these Mavs shine.

The spotlight was on Jason Terry (20 points, 8-17 FG, four assists, two turnovers), who played an absolutely stellar fourth quarter. JET dropped 13 in the fourth quarter, and 11 of those points came over a four-minute span in which he personally outscored the Bobcats 11-4. Terry hasn’t been dropping in points in tremendous volume lately, but he’s been incredibly efficient; this was actually the first game that he’s shot less than 50% (and it’s 47.5%, which is damn near close enough for me) since the 0-for-10 debacle against Miami on February 20th. This is only the second time he’s registered 20 points over that same stretch (with the other being his 30-point night against L.A.), but JET’s shooting has been wonderfully efficient of late.

Dirk Nowitzki (27 points, 12-23 FG, 13 rebounds, two blocks, one turnover) is one of the most effective isolation weapons in the game, and most opponents’ best defense on him in late-game situations is to double aggressively (leaving them vulnerable to the kick-out) or pray that he misses. Charlotte is a beast of a team on the defensive end, but even with their group of talented, athletic defenders, the Bobcats had no means of halting Dirk’s high post game. Tyrus Thomas (16 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks) was matched up with Nowitzki in the fourth, and though he’s one of the more physically gifted defenders in the league much less in Charlotte, Dirk pump faked and spun his way to a few crucial buckets.

One of Josh Howard’s most publicized shortcomings was his inability to provide stable scoring behind Nowitzki and Terry. It’s something he struggled with throughout his injury-plagued campaigns, and though Howard would occasionally show flashes of what could have been (had he been healthy and comfortable in the rotation), he clearly wasn’t able to provide in that capacity this season. Caron Butler (22 points, 10-16 FG, three steals) on the other hand, is looking more and more like a perfect option as a third scorer. Caron’s averaged 20.5 points on 55.9% shooting since sitting out two games due to complications with a medication, along with 1.0 turnovers and 3.5 steals per night. Two games is an incredibly small sample size, but Butler really does look more comfortable in the Mavs’ sets and, just as importantly, his teammates are more aware of where and when Caron wants the ball.

Everything is still not perfect, as evidenced by a mere five-point win and only 89 points on the board. But the things the Mavs have improved since the trade — defense, balanced scoring, activity level — are more than enough reason to keep looking up.

Closing thoughts:

  • This win pushed the Mavs up to 2nd place in the Western Conference, which is even more important than the fact that it was Dallas’ eighth straight victory.
  • Stephen Jackson (20 points, seven rebounds, four assists, six turnovers) looked to be a big problem early in the game. Rick Carlisle clearly has tremendous respect for Gerald Wallace’s (11 points, eight rebounds, three blocks) game, and matched Crash with Shawn Marion. That left Caron Butler and Jason Kidd to defend the lanky, streak-shooting Jackson, who had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting and three assists in the first quarter. Letting a shooter like Jax build confidence early in a game can be particularly dangerous. To some extent he was, as his 20 points are pretty significant in such a low-possession, low-scoring game. But those six turnovers were ruinous. Three of them came in just over three minutes in the second quarter, and by the time Jax had reeled in the TOs in the fourth, his shooting had gone cold. This is kinda what you get with Stephen Jackson.
  • Brendan Haywood (seven points, six rebounds) had an incredibly quiet night, but at least picked the right time to do so. Some scoring would’ve surely helped, but Haywood’s defense wouldn’t be especially helpful against the monster that is Theo Ratliff (four points, two rebounds). Theo is a force that you can only hope to contain.
  • I have no way of explaining what has happened to D.J. Augustin (two points, 0-3 FG, three turnovers). Last year he looked like a legitimate option at point guard moving forward. But this season? A mirage of his former self, accurate only when he’s shooting himself in the foot. I’ve always thought of Augustin as a scoring point guard first and foremost, and that’s where he found his biggest successes at Texas. The scoring’s stopped — as a matter of failure to execute, not a change in approach — and Augustin’s play makes Raymond Felton, even on a night where 4-of-14 from the field, rather indispensable.
  • 1-for-9 shooting for Jason Kidd. Blech. Seven assists to three turnovers. Meh.
  • Still no playing time for Von Wafer, and I don’t suspect we’ll see him play until the Mavs can create some fourth quarter separation. If you didn’t have another reason to cheer for a blowout, here you go. No DeShawn Stevenson or Rodrigue Beaubois either, which made for a rather short bench that did little to produce aside from JET. Eddie Najera and J.J. Barea combined for two points (1-4 FG), three rebounds, two assists, two turnovers, two steals, and two blocks in 25 minutes. Nothing to write a bullet point about.
  • The Bobcats really miss Nazr Mohammed.
  • As impressive as Caron Butler was, he wasn’t even on the floor for the critical moments in the fourth quarter. Rick Carlisle rolled with Kidd-Terry-Marion-Nowitzki-Haywood, leaving Butler’s big scoring night sitting on the bench in favor of Marion’s defense and rebounding. And it paid off. Marion may not have had incredibly visible box score contributions, but he still was a crucial part of Dallas’ fourth quarter surge.
  • This was the second straight game that the Mavs gave up the advantage at the free throw line (15 attempts to Charlotte’s 28) and the offensive boards (five to Charlotte’s eight) to the Bobcats. Not a good habit to get into, although in this case it wasn’t the difference between a win and a loss.

Rumor Mongering: Dallas Gets Trade Crazy

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 27, 2009 under Rumors | 8 Comments to Read

Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning New wrote a piece outlining which of the Mavs’ assets are the most tradable, and also gives a pretty hefty list of potential targets that could be on Dallas’ radar.  Pure speculation?  Maybe.  But Mike Fisher of DallasBasketball.com thinks there’s more to it, and that there may be some legitimate team sentiment behind the rumors.

Dallas needs to do something.  Rotation shake-ups and motivational speeches have gone just about as far as they can go.  The team has some appealing assets and they have plenty of needs.  There are really two questions though.  First, can the Mavs even get the “right deal” done?  And second, does the “right deal” do enough to get the Mavs out of the first round of the playoffs?  The fan in me says yes, but the realist in me says no.  To say it’s an uphill battle is underselling it.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with it, right?  So without further ado, a breakdown of each of Sefko’s proposed trades:

Jerry Stackhouse and Erick Dampier to Sacramento for Brad Miller and Kenny Thomas.

Why it works: The trade turns Stack’s contract into a player that’s immediately useful in Brad Miller, and Dallas doesn’t sacrifice 2010 cap flexibility.  Miller finally gives Mavs fans the scoring from the center position that they’ve always pined for, and he’s a much better passer than Dampier.  When Miller is focused, his ability to facilitate the offense can really open things up for the fringe contributors on the team.  Kenny Thomas also gives the Mavs another look at the second string power forward (or third string, whatever), and he’s not as bad as you probably think he is.  The Kings aren’t playing him, but Thomas hasn’t been all that bad in his few appearances for Sacramento this season, and could be able to contribute to a playoff team.

Why it doesn’t: Brad Miller just so happens to occupy the same offensive space as Dirk, meaning that someone is going to be out of their comfort zone on almost every play.  Miller also happens to be an inferior post defender, shot-blocker, and rebounder to Dampier.  Granted that Miller is in fact a more gifted scorer than Damp, he also relies on a higher usage rate that could require taking touches away from Dirk, Josh, and JET in order to accomodate Miller’s usual production.  Is that worth it?  Probably not.  You might be able to argue that this trade slightly favors Dallas, but even so it would be a marginal upgrade at best.


Jerry Stackhouse and Brandon Bass to Golden State for Stephen Jackson.

Why it works: This one is definitely the most interesting to me.  The 2 guard has been a problem all season, and Antoine Wright/Gerald Green/Dwane Casey’s kid probably aren’t the answer.  Wright’s passable some nights and unspectacularly awful others, and Green ranges from smile-worthy offensive explosion to migraine-inducing “rookie mistake” factory.  Jax would give the Mavs a great defender, a vocal leader, and a player who can drive, shoot, and set up his teammates.  Plus, this trade would give Dallas a quality wing player without giving up Josh Howard.

Why it doesn’t: The bench would be a disaster.  Who plays power forward?  James Singleton?  Ryan Hollins?  Shawne Williams?  It wouldn’t be pretty on the backlines, and Dallas would be hit hard in the low post and on the boards.  Or, I guess Carlisle could just play Dirk for 43 minutes a night.  That would work really well.  But the trouble doesn’t stop there; Stephen Jackson signed what is actually a pretty reasonable three-year, $28 million extension this season.  The wittle bitty problem with that is the fact that Jackson is nearly 31 right now, and at the end of his deal (2012-2013), he would be 35 years old.  Who knows how productive he’ll be by that time, and it could be a nightmare to move an aging wing scorer if things don’t work out.

Photo from Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images via ESPN.

Jerry Stackhouse and Brandon Bass to Chicago for Andres Nocioni.

Why it works: Noc gives the Mavs another weapon off the bench, or possibly a small forward to start alongside Howard.  He can stretch the floor, he’s a physical player, and would add firepower to a team that has trouble scoring at times.

Why it doesn’t: Nocioni’s contract is entirely too long, stretching to 2012-2013 (although that last year is a team option).  Some might call him an “irritant,” but I merely cite him as the primary example under the dictionary definition of “fake hustle.”  He’s almost constantly overaggressive both in terms of shot attempts and fouls, and while he is a physical defender he isn’t that great at D in general.  Trading Bass would open up a huge hole at the 4 (see above), and while Chicago may play Noc at the 4 for stretches, Dallas should have no business doing that.  He’s 6’7”, 201, and just tends to push people in the back.  Not exactly a dream come true.  Plus, his better offensive days look more like an exception than a rule at this point.


Jerry Stackhouse and Brandon Bass to Minnesota for Mike Miller.

Why it works: Mike Miller is a great player on the down year of all down years, somehow appearing to be one of the worst players in the Wolves’ regular rotation.  And that’s saying something.  I’d find it hard to believe that the Real Mike Miller isn’t buried beneath layer upon layer of Minnesota-induced psychosis, and the Mavs would hope to save Miller from himself.  When he’s rolling, he’s creating for his teammates, getting to the hoop, and one of the deadliest shooters in the game.  When he’s not, well, just look at his stats on the season.  Not too pretty.

Why it doesn’t: This trade doesn’t really seem like a possibility.  All indications point to Minny demanding back more compensation that just Bass and an expiring deal, and I’m sure they have their eyes on draft picks around the league.  Beyond that, Miller only makes the Mavs better at doing what they already do: shooting.  He would fix the starting shooting guard problem but open up the power forward Pandora’s Box, which could actually end up being a wash.  On top of that, there’s no guarantee that Miller won’t continue his reign as the Archduke of the Royal Principality of EPIC FAIL.

Jerry Stackhouse and Erick Dampier to Toronto for Jermaine O’Neal.

Why it works: It really, really doesn’t.

Why it doesn’t: Probably the worst deal on the list.  Turn our prized expiring deal and a healthy starting center into a possibly-more-talented-but-definitely-more-washed-up, oft-injured center.  Where do I sign up?


Brandon Bass To Detroit for Arron Afflalo.

Why it works: Arron Afflalo is exactly the type of young point guard the Mavs want to have going forward.  He’s already a good defender, shoots well, and plays the game without forcing the issue or making careless mistakes.  Another quality young playerdrafted by Joe Dumars.  Plus, dude has an awesome name.

Why it doesn’t: This trade could only make sense in tandem with another deal that would bring in frontcourt depth.  The Mavs already have J.J. Barea, Jason Terry, and even Matt Carroll to back-up Kidd if the situation calls for it, while Brandon Bass is the only line of defense between a potential Dirk Nowitzki energy and complete Maverick apocalypse.  I love Afflalo’s game and I love his potential, but this move doesn’t make sense for Dallas right now.

Photo from AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki.

Jerry Stackhouse and Brandon Bass to Oklahoma City for Earl Watson.

Why it works: I’m not really sure.  I guess Earl Watson would be another Kidd back-up, or possibly an insurance policy if Dallas decides to go another way this summer.  Otherwise, I’m speechless.

Why it doesn’t: Earl Watson just isn’t that good.  His jumper is errant, his playmaking skills are slightly above average, and his defense is unimpressive.  There’s a reason that his “steady veteran presence” has made its rounds throughout the league, let’s just put it that way.  Plus, giving up an expiring deal and arguably Dallas’ most promising young player for a piece that doesn’t fit on the team, isn’t a youngster, and isn’t anything better than average seems awfully silly.

Photo from NBAE/Getty Images/Kent Smith.

Josh Howard and J.J. Barea to Charlotte for Raja Bell and Raymond Felton.

Why it works: Raymond Felton would be the Mavs’ point guard of the future and Raja Bell would be a capable starting 2 guard who still retains some of the skills of a lockdown defender.  At once, this trade will fill a glaring hole for the Mavs at the 2 and procure Kidd’s protégé.

Why it doesn’t: The Mavs are giving up quite a bit for two ill-fitting pieces.  Josh Howard is still a hotbed of talent, whether he can harness it or not.  J.J. Barea not only holds status as a Mavericks folk hero, but penetrates well, knows when to look for his own shot, and has plenty of time to improve on a perfectly reasonable contract.  Meanwhile, Raymond Felton would possibly be forced into the shooting guard slot alongside Kidd or in a back-up role, meaning that he won’t have experience running the point full-time when he takes over and/or he won’t have the added experience of playing against top-flight players.  Meanwhile, Raja Bell could be an interesting addition to the Mavs roster if it still featured Howard, but in this case filling the hole at the 2 leaves an even bigger one at the 3.  Devean George might actually start.  I’m doing my best to keep in my enthusiasm.  Beyond that, Felton isn’t a great shooter, has stalled at times in his progression, and Raja Bell is already a shade behind his former self and only getting worse.

Photo from NBA.com

Josh Howard and Brandon Bass to Memphis for Mike Conley and Darko Milicic.

Why it works: Mike Conley is going to be a stud.  He has all the physical tools required of a great point guard, and while his play has been up and down, I see the good in him.  He’s probably the best option listed here in terms of young guards, and the Grizz apparently aren’t entirely opposed to the idea of parting ways with him.  If Memphis was rumored to be interested in Milwaukee’s Ramon Sessions and Joe Alexander for Conley, why wouldn’t they be interested in Howard/Bass?  Darko on the other hand, despite his neverending status as a 2003 Draft punchline, is a pretty decent big man.  Like Conley, he’s had good days and bad.  But he’s also a legit 7-foot shot blocker with plenty of room to grow and a nice presence in the low post.

Why it doesn’t: It doesn’t help the Mavs this season.  Darko would be able to play either power forward or center on any given night, but the small forward position would be awful.  Conley doesn’t fill any specific short-term need,and would be a luxury I’m not sure the Mavs can afford on a roster that needs some help.

Rumor Mongering: Everybody Loves Raymond

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 17, 2009 under Rumors | Read the First Comment

God, that show is terrible.  I’m really sorry for that headline.

But apparently the Mavs still have their eye on strapping young lad Raymond Felton.  Or maybe this was just a throwaway line to keep us all talking.  From Jeff Caplan of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

“Nelson also said talks to acquire Felton are not dead.”