The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 74, Toronto Raptors 95

Posted by Connor Huchton on December 15, 2012 under Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

Sunrise

Box ScorePlay-By-PlayShot ChartGame 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. 

  • Losing to the lowly Raptors has a way of plummeting expectations. But this loss shouldn’t be shocking, given that this Mavericks’ team is currently average at best.
  • The first sign that this game was headed for an underwhelming finish came with O.J. Mayo’s (2-8 FG, 10 points, six turnovers) struggles. Quite simply, the Mavericks don’t win when Mayo isn’t playing well.
  • Even so, no respectable team should score a mere 74 points in an NBA game. But when the Mavericks’ second best scoring option, Chris Kaman (7-18 FG, 15 points, five rebounds), began forcing looks in an attempt to jump start the team’s offense, things quickly took a turn for the worse.
  • Kaman can’t be blamed for an occasionally inefficient scoring night. What he can be blamed for is a continuing inability to rebound well.
  • He’s currently sporting the worst rebounding rate of his career, to give that thought some context. 
  • One player who absolutely did not struggle to score was Brandan Wright (6-6 FG, 13 points). Wright scored in droves without missing a shot over the course of an all-too-short 14 minutes.
  • It’s worth wondering why Wright only played 14 minutes on a night when the Mavericks could not have needed his scoring more badly. Wright’s defensive struggles are well documented (and he recorded zero rebounds tonight), but they aren’t significant enough to preclude his presence during games when efficient scoring is at a premium.
  • Other than Wright, the Mavericks bench performed dismally in this game, combining for only 27 points.
  • Linas Kleiza (20 points, 7-13 FG, 5-11 3PT), with his semi-formidable combination of strength and three-point shooting skill, is the type of player who can achieve scoring bursts against teams without a true defensive center.
  • The Mavericks are one of those teams.
  • Though defensively impressive in past seasons, the Mavericks are now ranked a mediocre 17th in defensive efficiency.
  • For a team that currently has only two capable high-volume scorers, the resulting need to score at a high rate creates an increasingly frequent problem and often leads to losses.
  • Things aren’t about to get better: the Mavericks opponents to this point have a 162-199 record.
  • In the next 6 games, opponents have a record of 88-42.
  • Let’s take a moment to admire the resiliency and constancy of Shawn Marion (12 points, 13 rebounds, 4-7 FG), who is competent or better in the majority of games and almost always able to make some form of impact.
  • The only other Mavericks’ player (not named Dirk) you could say that for is O.J. Mayo, and his game is nowhere near as wide-reaching as Marion’s.
  • Though this is a bit of a tangent, it is now my tenuous belief that the Mavericks should have re-signed Tyson Chandler in the summer of 2011.
  • It’s easy to spout that belief in hindsight of the Mavericks’ free agent failures, but the question of whether Deron Williams or Tyson Chandler is a more valuable player lurks in my mind, especially in a Mavericks’ system that thrives with an elite defensive center. Chandler has improved the Knicks’ defense in great increments over the last two seasons, while Williams has often struggled to perform at an elite level with the Nets and has had particular difficulties on the defensive end.
  • And that idea comes with the following facts, courtesy of Jared Dubin. Those considerations make one wonder whether the choice would have been preferential even had the Mavericks managed to sign Williams.
  • Of course, that opinion comes with the caveat of knowing Chandler playing at this level wasn’t a certainty at the time of his departure, after a small sample size of success.
  • (If Chris Paul or Dwight Howard somehow signs with the Mavericks this summer, I rescind this tangent.)

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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Quoteboard: Dallas 114, New York 111

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on November 22, 2012 under Interviews | Read the First Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks refuse fall below .500 on the season. They used a 29-10 run from the 5:27 mark of the third quarter through the 9:16 mark of the fourth period to turn an eight-point deficit, 72-64, into an 11-point advantage, 93-82. That was the run that allowed the Mavericks to secure an impressive 114-111 victory over the hot Knicks squad. With the win, the Mavericks handed the Knicks just their second loss of the season (New York moved to 8-2 on the year).

O.J. Mayo led all scorers with nine points in the first quarter against the Knicks on Wednesday. Mayo finished with a game-high 27 points in 36 minutes against the Knicks. Vince Carter appeared in his 999thcareer regular-season game against New York on Wednesday and tallied a season-high 25 points in 23 minutes off the bench. His previous high scoring game this year was 19 at Charlotte (11/10). The most points Carter scored in a game in 2011-12 was 23 (vs. Houston 4/18/12). In a bounce-back performance, Darren Collison went 7-for-11 from the field and tallied 19 points and a team-high seven assists in 34 minutes against the Knicks. After recording his first DNP-CD (Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision) of the year, Jae Crowder recorded 12 points and four rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench against New York. He matched his season high for points and rebounds.

Here is the quoteboard for the win against the Knicks.

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The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 114, New York Knicks 111

Posted by Connor Huchton on 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.

Replacement Parts

Posted by Zachariah Roberts on November 15, 2012 under Commentary | Read the First Comment

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Zachariah Roberts is a basketball connoisseur of sorts and runs AllOutPress in his spare time.  If you wish to see more than just his analytical musings of the game, then feel free to watch him ramble on Twitter @TheZRoberts.

After the 2011 season, the Dallas Mavericks elected to let Tyson Chandler walk. He was a key cog in Dallas’ championship run, but was cut loose for the sake of cost effectiveness. His presence was sorely missed  in the 2012-13 season; Chandler moved to New York and subsequently won the Defensive Player of the Year Award and remained an effective offensive force, all while Dallas struggled to find stability with its own center rotation.

But the Mavs did an excellent job of finding an economical — if incomplete — replacement for Chandler in Brandan Wright. Wright is currently making less than a million dollars for his services for the entire season, yet he ranks fourth in the league in offensive PPP (points per play) at 1.21 on 54 opportunities while shooting an astonishing 64.8 percent from the floor, according to Synergy Sports Technology. And, while this is all drawn from a small sample size, one can point to last year’s production of 1.18 PPP on 293 opportunities as evidence that this isn’t merely a fluke.

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Thermodynamics: Week 3

Posted by Travis Wimberly on under Commentary, Recaps | 2 Comments to Read

Ice Melting

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

Last week around this time, the Mavs were flying high. They carried a 4-1 record and possessed what looked to be one of the best offenses in the NBA. But after some poor performances and a 1-3 record this week—including the franchise’s first-ever loss to the Charlotte Bobcats—the Mavs have some work to do. But hey, at least they didn’t fire their coach five games into the season.

Let’s take a look at the Mavs’ hottest and coldest performances from Week 3. (Spoiler alert: Cold wins this week.)

Week 3 (@Knicks, @Bobcats, Timberwolves, Wizards)

FIRE

1) OJ Mayo

With a couple caveats, it was another strong week for the shooting guard affably known as “Juice” (alternate nickname: “That guy who temporarily ruined USC’s basketball program”). Mayo shot 29-of-61 (48%) in the Mavs’ four games this week, including 10-of-20 (50%) from three-point range. He was the Mavs’ most consistent and productive scorer by a considerable margin, averaging exactly 22 PPG. For the season, Mayo’s true shooting percentage (64%) and effective field-goal percentage (60%) both rank in the top fifteen in the league among guards who have played more than negligible minutes. Mayo’s turnovers (3.5 per game this week) and comfort within the offense both remain issues. But if the expectation is for Mayo to be the team’s second scorer behind Dirk Nowitzki, he’s currently showing why that expectation is entirely fair.

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Setting the Table: New York Knicks (Game 6)

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on November 9, 2012 under Previews | Be the First to Comment

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The Dallas Mavericks (4-1) head up to the big apple to take on the New York Knicks (3-0). Though only playing three games, the Knicks remain the league’s lone undefeated team. New York has not played a game since their victory on Monday against the Phildaelphia 76ers. The realist is saying that they will be well-rested and well-scouted for their game against the Mavericks. The optimist is saying that they will be rusty for the matchup against the Mavericks.

In an update of who is in and who is out: Elton Brand rejoined the team after not being with the team for their game with Toronto so he could be with his wife for the birth of his second child. Roddy Beaubois will once again be a gametime decision due to a sprained left ankle.

Here are some notes for the matchup against the Knicks.

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Homeostatic

Posted by Ian Levy on October 22, 2012 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

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I’m not sure if it comes through in my condescending tone or consistently judgmental world-view, but I support my basketball blogging habit working as an elementary school teacher. Both pursuits are challenging, rewarding and intellectually stimulating, but the nature of each means there is generally very little crossover. Over the past year however, I’ve been looking for ways to bring my hobby and professional life closer together. The latest iteration of that pursuit is a project I helped start this summer at Hickory-High called the K-12 Analytic Challenge. This project aims to get students engaged with scientific reasoning and mathematical argumentation through basketball analytics. Every few weeks we’ve been posting a basketball question and asking students to submit answers supported by statistics.

I’m sharing this project, not (entirely) for shameless self-promotion, but because in preparing the latest challenge I stumbled across a Dallas Mavericks story I had missed from last season. The most recent challenge asked students “Who will win the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award for the 2012-2013 season?” Each challenge also comes with a set of scaffolded hints designed to make the project accessible to students with all levels of statistical sophistication. In putting together one of those hints I pointed out that one group of players who often win the Most Improved Player Award are those who have been very effective in limited minutes the season before, and are then given a big bump in minutes the next season. These players don’t really improve, so much as they are given more opportunities to show off their skills — think Ryan Anderson last season or Kevin Love the season before.

In guiding students to use this line of thinking in the challenge, I used a search from Basketball-Reference’s Play Index to generate an example list of players who fit that set of circumstances for this season. I was looking for players who had been very productive in limited minutes last season, and who might have the opportunity to play a larger role this year. I set the criteria for my search as players 25 and under, who had played more than 500 minutes and less than 1200 minutes with a minute per game average below 25.0. If you sort the results by PER you find a Brandan Wright second from the top.

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Snake Eyes

Posted by Rob Mahoney on July 3, 2012 under Commentary | 19 Comments to Read

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Successful navigation of free agency typically requires foresight, planning, and creative financing, but ultimately falls to the mercy of chance. All of the managerial savvy in the world can only make a compelling case, and in the process leave the fate of a franchise in the hands of an individual with many, complicated interests.

So it was with the Mavs’ failed pursuit of Deron Williams, which officially came to an end with Williams’ announcement of his intention to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets. Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban avoided long-term investments and wiggled their way into the cap room necessary to lure the DFW native, but the payoff for their efforts was always a gamble at best, and it’s not exactly surprising that their little wager against the incumbent Nets didn’t pay off. That said, the outcome also doesn’t make the decision to break up a championship core any less correct than it was a year ago; tough as it was for the champs to forego their title defense before the season even began, Williams and Dwight Howard were prizes worth chasing, particularly in the face of otherwise over-investing in a fading core.

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The Difference: Oklahoma City Thunder 95, Dallas Mavericks 79

Posted by Rob Mahoney on May 4, 2012 under Recaps | 5 Comments to Read

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Box ScorePlay-by-PlayShot ChartGame Flow

TeamPaceOff. Eff.eFG%FTRORRTOR
Dallas94.085.938.834.220.017.4
Oklahoma City103.349.420.017.48.7

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

  • With the Mavericks splattered on the Thunder’s windshield, it seems a more appropriate time than ever to reinforce just how limited Dallas’ half-court offense has been this season. This crew has managed to salvage just enough possessions for us to wonder if they’re still capable of more, and yet time and time again these Mavs trip into performances like this one: outings filled with bouts of lame, stagnant offense, designed to flow but caught in the mire. Dirk Nowitzki is a miraculous player, but the team so carefully propelled by its balance last season has very clearly caved in, leaving Nowitzki as the one self-standing tentpole to bear the weight of a drooping roster.
    .
    It’s all fun and games when the play action comes easy, but the virtues of extra passes and open shots don’t mean all that much when a team lacks the capability to consistently create such opportunities. Rick Carlisle has tried to find substitutes for the likes of J.J. Barea and Tyson Chandler, but ultimately failed to recreate the same perfect mix of ingredients that brought this same core their own slice of basketball immortality last June. Things could never be the same — not after all of the pieces Dallas lost, and after each of the team’s many additions subtly pushed the Mavs in a different direction. It’s no fault of the newcomers specifically, at least any more than it’s a fault of every Maverick; this was an experiment gone wrong, and though by nature of the process most eyes will turn to the experimenter himself in blame, every beaker and burner and unproductive big man played a part in not playing their part.
  • I’ve been among Brendan Haywood’s more generous supporters, and even I’ve completely run out of excuses and justifications for his poor performance. Perhaps Haywood still holds value in the right context, but at the moment that context seems far too limited to justify his standing or his salary. He actively holds the team back in the vein of an end-of-the-road Erick Dampier, and though he’s only 32 years old, Haywood seems to have sufficiently worn through much of his NBA utility. Haywood has seen Ian Mahinmi and Brandan Wright — two very imperfect players — take their turn in the spotlight during the regular season, all while he settled in with unimpressive rebounding, far too unreliable defense, and slim offensive relevance. Now he seems to have fully completed his downswing; his play leaves more to be desired than I would have possibly imagined, and he shrivels not in the shadow of Mahinmi, Wright, or even Chandler, but in the context of useful basketball players in the most general sense.

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