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 has never been a player quite like Shawn Marion (11-16 FG, 2-3 3PT, 26 points, 11 rebounds), and it is unlikely that there will ever be another Shawn Marion in any future of ours.
He is basketball’s quiet genius performer, a gifted hardwood artist with the ability to paint a floor canvas with the contrasts of subtlety and bluntness, each swirling in needless but potent conjunction.
He glides towards the basket, he hoists an awkward three-point jumper, he defends your best player, and he does so with a consistency that is all to rare within this worldly toil.
A wise man once said, “There is no truth – only Shawn Marion’s jumper and all that comes with it.”
His game represents quite possibly everything (but no single something) that there is to be known about basketball and what the sport can achieve.
All that is to say, I enjoyed the way Shawn Marion played tonight.
And the rest of the Mavericks followed his glorious lead admirably.
The Mavericks have lost very few games this season when O.J. Mayo (19 points, 6-13 FG, nine assists, two turnovers) has passed well, and that trend continued quite easily against a Warriors’ team that seemed unable to keep up with a vibrant Dallas squad.
A similar belief could be stated regarding Darren Collison (18 points, 5-9 FG, 3-4 3PT eight assists, two turnovers), though perhaps to a lesser extent, as his ball movement has been a grade more consistent than that of Mayo.
Both players helped the Mavericks capitalize on a plethora of open three-pointers throughout the game, most of which the Warriors didn’t, or couldn’t, close out on with any great urgency.
I’m willing to bet that any performance involving 17 assists and four turnovers from the Mayo-Collison combination will lead to a Mavericks’ win.
Have I mentioned how quietly great at basketball Shawn Marion is?
The prestigious “Best Plus-Minus In A Blowout” award goes to elder post defense statesman Elton Brand (5-9 FG, 11 points, 11 rebounds) who earned a nice +32 in a cool 29 minutes, while determinedly controlling the lane as only he can.
If you would have told me pre-game that Steph Curry (8-23 FG, 1-3 3PT, 18 points, four assists, five turnovers) would take 23 field goals with only three of them being three pointers, I probably would have said something like: “No.”
Politely, of course.
That lack of attempts falls in part to the Mavericks, who did a solid job of committing to the perimeter and limiting Curry and the rest of the Warriors to a 6-16 three-point mark.
The Warriors played without the aid of Jarrett Jack and Andrew Bogut, each of whom is an important piece to the team’s exciting puzzle.
Bogut has scarcely played for the Warriors this season, so that holds somewhat lesser bearing.
But it’s safe to say that Golden State missed Jack’s steady presence on a night like tonight.
That is to say, a night in which no other Warrior player could do much of anything on the offensive side of the ball.
Part of the reason Vince Carter has suddenly become more valuable this season is his surprising improvement on the defensive end (the Mavericks are consistently better on defense when Carter is on the floor), and while the sample size is inherently small, this is visual proof.
It’s very difficult to play 13 minutes without a field goal attempt in NBA play, but Andris Biedrins (eight rebounds) managed such a feat tonight. I don’t think such a choice is necessarily problematic, but it’s interesting.
In conclusion, I’m confident that Shawn Marion made this jumper.
You know the drill. The Difference is a reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin, give or take a dozen or so considering the ridiculous scoring margin of this game.
It’s hard to ask for more in a bounce-back game. The Mavs completely smothered a solid offensive team, they cleaned the glass, got quality shot attempts all around, Kept Monta Ellis (18 points, 7-18 FG, four assists, three turnovers) and Steph Curry (11 points, 4-12 FG, six rebounds, six assists) relatively quiet, and contested the hell out of everything. Wins against the Warriors only mean so much, but Dallas needed this game, and more importantly they needed a performance as dominant as this one. It’s hopefully only the beginning of a renewed commitment to defensive detail.
Not only do the Warriors lack even a single notable defender to counter Dirk Nowitzki (20 points, 9-15 FG, six rebounds), but they no longer even have a pesky, high-risk defender (a la Stephen Jackson) to cause problems with speed and active hands. David Lee was visibly frustrated in trying to defend Nowitzki, and the other defenders Golden State threw at Dirk probably should have been frustrated. Lou Amundson, Ekpe Udoh, and a handful of others had their shot, and not one of them did a passable job of defending the Mavs’ headliner. (One exception: Udoh’s on-ball block on a Dirk jumper early in the fourth quarter. A good play, but not exactly consistent with the Warriors’ total body of work in defending Nowitzki in this one )
Tyson Chandler (seven points, 17 rebounds) and Ian Mahinmi (nine points, 13 rebounds) were both glorious, which is the kind of thing that tends to happen against poor rebounding teams without competent defensive bigs. No sign of Brendan Haywood, but it didn’t matter in the slightest; Chandler and Mahinmi did excellent work on both ends of the court, and their rebounding totals speak for themselves. Standing O for the Maverick center corps, even if Haywood just had a view from the sidelines.
Peja Stojakovic (17 points, 6-11 FG, 5-8 3FG) had a tremendous game, largely because his threes were falling. Stojakovic made a trio of three-pointers in the first minute and a half of the third quarter, despite the fact that he hadn’t played since March 7th. Good on him for coming out guns a’blazing. That said, a game like this one speaks to how random Stojakovic’s good and poor games really are. There are plenty of nights when Peja is a non-factor, and he leaves the game with only a handful of shooting attempts. However, often the only significant difference between this kind of showing and his 2-of-8 nights is the outcome of his attempts. Stojakovic doesn’t really force shot attempts, meaning that those shots he does take are typically open ones. On Sunday, those shots fell. In other games, they won’t. But how does Rick Carlisle go about getting production from an offense-only player (or on another level, how does Carlisle decide when to play Stojakovic and when to pull him) whose most significant offensive flaw is the fact that he can’t make every shot? Stojakovic may be limited, but he stays within himself, so much so that his production is almost entirely reduced to the open three-pointer make-miss binary.
I find Udoh’s defensive potential incredibly intriguing, but the guy just isn’t an NBA-ready offensive player. He can grab the occasional bucket off a cut or offensive board, but he doesn’t have any kind of high or low post game and isn’t even a serious pick-and-roll threat. Even for a team that so badly needs his defensive impact, that’s a problem.
Good to see: Dallas had no intent to give up easy looks inside. The Mavs contested well even when various Warriors got all the way to the rim, and in the cases when the back line was out of position, the Maverick bigs took hard, limiting fouls.
This was fun:
I can’t remember the last Warriors game I saw in which I though Golden State utilized Reggie Williams as much as they should. Williams had a nice run during the Warriors’ D-League call-up rush last season, but on a healthy roster Williams tends to get lost in the shuffle. Their loss.
Nowitzki did a pretty nice job of hedging on pick-and-rolls, which isn’t exactly a staple in his game. Dirk isn’t the most mobile big around, but he was able to stall Monta Ellis in a potentially dangerous situation long enough for a perimeter player to recover. Claims of Nowitzki’s defensive ineptitude are still largely hyperbolized, but it’s still nice to see him deter a Maverick-killer like Ellis from turning the corner on screens.
Dallas played a good offensive game against Golden State, but not a great one. That said, it’s good to see this team get to the free throw line with notable frequency, grab plenty of offensive boards, and execute for good attempts. The turnovers could still stand to go down and the shots didn’t always fall, but this was a pretty sound offensive outing.
Rodrigue Beaubois (15 points, 5-11 FG, four rebounds, four assists, five turnovers) has done an outstanding job of putting pressure on opposing defenses in the last few games. Beaubois can become a bit passive for stretches, but he wasn’t settling for step-back threes or mere spot-up attempts in this one; drives into the paint were commonplace, and from that point Beaubois was creating scoring opportunities at the rim or kicking out to his teammates for open jumpers.
One note about Beaubois’ abilities as a drive-and-kick player: his kick-out passes tend to sail a bit. The accuracy is there, but by lobbing those passes a bit more than he should, Beaubois negates some of the impact of his drive and wastes precious time in the open shooting window for his teammates. Even a bit more arc on those feeds allows defenders time to adjust and contest, so bringing those kick-out passes down a bit could go a long way in picking up Beaubois’ passing effectiveness.
All you need to know: there were sequences in this game in which Vladimir Radmanovic was used as a token center. I know Andris Biedrins was out with injury and David Lee had foul trouble at times, but once you’ve reached that point in the rotation, why bother with convention? Throw another wing out there and see what happens. Worst case scenario, Dorrell Wright or some other forward gives up buckets inside. Best case: you might be able to cut into that deficit with hot shooting, or even be able to shoot Tyson Chandler off the floor if he doesn’t chase his man all the way to the three-point line. Radmanovic is no answer, regardless.
Dallas does more odd defensive cross-matching than any team in the league. It’s certainly not uncommon to see a given team swap coverage among PG-SG, SG-SF, or PF-C, but the Mavs are the only team that regularly pits their starting point guard — Jason Kidd — against opposing small forwards with regularity. Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler are constantly flipping coverages to pit Chandler against the greater offensive threat, and Carlisle switches up Beaubois, Kidd, DeShawn Stevenson, Jason Terry, and J.J. Barea all the time. PER allowed by position may be more irrelevant for the Mavs than any other players in the league.
An odd sequence with 32 seconds remaining in the first half: David Lee attempts to back down Beaubois from the wing, but makes no progress whatsoever after a few seconds’ work. Incredible, right? Well, it’s less so after a closer inspection, as Beaubois appeared to be giving Lee a double arm-bar to the back, the bane of post players everywhere and — as I understand it — an automatic foul.
To the Mavs’ credit, one of their greater defensive successes for the evening was limiting Golden State’s explosive scoring potential. Basketball is a game of runs and all that, but the most notable spurt in the Warriors’ favor was an 11-2 burst toward the beginning of the second half. That’s a victory to take on a purely independent basis; the overall defensive execution was marvelous, but to quash every run is pretty spectacular on its own merit.
The Warriors may have been a great landing spot for Al Thornton (eight points, 2-7 FG, four rebounds, two turnovers) in terms of a team that’s able to artificially inflate his stats despite limited minutes, but I’m not sure a style that facilitates his ability to take quick, poorly chosen shots is the best thing for his development as a player. Horrible shot selection was already among Thornton’s vices, and life as a Warrior certainly hasn’t done much to change him.
A few weeks into his Maverick career, I still don’t see Corey Brewer’s incredible defensive ability. He’s certainly effective on that end, but I see nothing to demand time on the floor, particularly when he’s — as Corey Brewer is ought to do — airballing three-point attempts from the corner.
The Mavs’ game against the Warriors may seem like ancient history at this point, but there’s still plenty to glean from the loss. Despite all of their defensive improvements, the Mavs have shown two different shades of defensive failure against quick point guards (Monta Ellis, Chris Paul). Though other speedy guards have been contained, Ellis’ performance against the Mavs was a reminder that there’s still plenty of work to be done on the defensive end. In this installment of Moving Pictures, we’ll examine exactly what went wrong against the Warriors, point a few fingers on who’s to blame, and hopefully take away some possible adjustments for the future.