Thermodynamics (n.) – the science concerned with the relations between heat and mechanical energy
It’s nearly the holidays, but we don’t take early vacations here at The Two Man Game.
Nor do the Mavericks, although it might have seemed otherwise after they failed to show up in Toronto last Friday night. A blowout loss to the Raptors jump-started a 1-2 week for the Mavs. But it wasn’t all bad.
Week 8 (@Raptors, @Timberwolves, 76ers)
1) Frontcourt Shooting
The Mavs’ frontcourt — particularly Chris Kaman, Shawn Marion, Elton Brand, and Brandan Wright — had a pleasantly efficient week from the floor. In Toronto, those four Mavs combined to shoot 18-of-32 (56%). The next night in Minnesota, they went 19-of-39 (49%). Back home against Philly, Brand sat out with a groin injury while the other three combined to go 21-of-32 (66%). After having not played meaningful fourth-quarter minutes for several games, Kaman was especially productive in the final frame against Philly, notching eight clutch points on 4-of-5 (80%) shooting. Now, if only the Mavs had another efficient frontcourt scorer, one who might be returning to the lineup soon….
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Box Score — Play-by-Play — Shot Chart — GameFlow
You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- Dirk Nowitzki had an easy 22-point night and Jason Kidd threw together a triple-double on a whim, but this win was all about Jason Terry (30 points, 13-18 FG, 3-5 3FG). It apparently wasn’t enough for JET to stick to his regular fourth-quarter routine. He dropped eight points over a three-minute stretch in the second quarter. He put up 11 on perfect 5-of-5 shooting during seven minutes in the third. Then he capped it off with six more points in the fourth and threw a crucial assist to Kidd for a spot-up three. Terry couldn’t have been better, as he created points and benefited from Kidd’s passing to put together a pretty complete scoring game. They weren’t all jumpers, either; obviously the J is Terry’s weapon of choice, but he didn’t neglect driving opportunities on Tuesday night. Good on him.
- Tyson Chandler (two points, five rebounds, 13 minutes) gave Mavs fans a panic attack when he came down awkwardly on his right ankle in the second quarter, but he was diagnosed with a sprain. Still not a good thing — there’s still no word on Chandler’s status for Friday. It could definitely be worse though, and the Mavs’ D isn’t capable of sustaining itself without Chandler at its focal point. Brendan Haywood (seven points, 3-4 FG, four rebounds) and Ian Mahinmi (zero points, zero rebounds, four fouls) are good players to be able to bring off the bench, but neither could perform so successfully in that prominent role. That said, Dallas did well defensively on Tuesday. Just don’t expect every opponent to have Andre Iguodala (15 points, 6-14 FG, seven rebounds, four assists) or Jrue Holiday (14 points, 6-15 FG, seven rebounds, six assists) around to be duped into taking jumpers.
- Rodrigue Beaubois only finished with six points in just under 13 minutes, but he looked far more comfortable in putting his teammates in scoring position. Beaubois didn’t exactly rack up the assists, but he was making some nice one-handed feeds off the dribble (with both hands) to open teammates on the three-point line or spotting up from twos. Dallas had trouble hitting open shots all night, but during his stint, Beaubois nonetheless generated quality opportunities for players other than himself, which hasn’t quite been a constant.
- Talented though Beaubois may be, there are still plenty of things that separate him from Terry and others. Within the context of the Mavs’ offense, one of them is screening; Dallas runs a lot of baseline action (and some at the elbow) in which guards are called upon to pick off Dirk or Shawn Marion’s man. Beaubois did a better job on Tuesday in that regard than we’ve seen in a long while, but he could still learn a lot from JET on how to set screens on players twice his size.
- Dallas didn’t exploit it particularly well, but Nowitzki had this game under wraps. Philadelphia shifted more defenders his way as the game progressed — which no doubt helped Terry explode for 30 — but the Mavs also worked away from Dirk a fair bit despite his considerable matchup advantages. The 76ers seem particularly limited in the bodies they can throw at Nowitzki; Elton Brand doesn’t have the size, Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes are poor post defenders, and the team tends to switch a lot of screens. That makes a pretty sweet cocktail that should have allowed Nowitzki to be the one with 30+, but the game just didn’t unfold that way.
- Both Marion and Young did a good job on the glass; Marion finished with two offensive rebounds and 10 overall, while Young grabbed three offensive rebounds and seven total.
- The Mavs didn’t make shots, but the execution was still a plus. Lots of good movement from Dallas, and Kidd did a fine job of getting the ball to cutters who found their slice of open space. Dallas made nine of their 11 first-quarter field goals in the paint (per @mavstats), and ended up with 40 points in the paint for the game. Of course the Mavs opted for jumpers at time, but there was little settling. The overall efficiency numbers don’t reflect the Mavs’ shot selection, but they were working for good looks throughout the night.
- I’ve written before on the impact a limited, below-average player can have on a good team in the right setting, and Jodie Meeks (16 points, 4-7 3FG) fits into that mold quite perfectly. I wouldn’t say Meeks is a scorer. Not in Phily’s system, and likely not in any other. At the NBA level, he’s much more a spot-up/pull-up shooter, and overextending him would lead to a tremendous drop in efficiency. Yet Meeks can offer something that many of his teammates cannot, and he’s shot his way into a prominent role and a starting job as a result. Every good teams need players who can do what Meeks — and J.J. Barea, Ian Mahinmi, etc. — does: create a niche for themselves despite supposed redundancies.