[Game-specific advanced stats forthcoming.]
You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- Dallas has long been a team that systematically creates and exploits mismatches, but the most crucial possessions of Thursday’s game didn’t go to Dirk Nowitzki (12 points, 5-12 FG, five rebounds) as he backed down a hapless defender, nor to Jason Terry (10 points, 3-14 FG) as he sized up a big man on the perimeter. Shawn Marion — a walking mismatch if there ever was one — acted as the stabilizer for Dallas’ offense in the second half, even after also doing much of the heavy lifting with smart cuts and creative finishes in the game’s first two quarters. Terry or Jason Kidd fed Marion (22 points, 10-17 FG, seven rebounds, four turnovers) on the left block, let him go to work against C.J. Miles, and benefited when Marion either hooked his way into a score or kicked the ball out to create an open look on the perimeter. That sequence may not have the same magnetism of an impossible Nowitzki fadeaway, but Marion’s post work was effective enough to anchor the Mavs’ late-game offense. That said, I’m curious why we didn’t see Dallas work through Lamar Odom — who had generated some good possessions from the right block in similar mismatches — prior to Marion’s takeover. With Nowitzki clearly unable to bear his customary fourth-quarter scoring load and Terry having a rough night with both his shooting and decision making, why not utilize Odom’s (11 points, 4-5 FG) post-ups as the mirror and counterpoint to Marion’s work on the block?