Dallas Mavericks Breakdown

» November 29, 2008 5:30 PM | By Erick Blasco

The more the Mavericks change, the more they stay the same. They looked like world-beaters for about 30 minutes or so of their 114-107 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers—and then wilted away in the fourth quarter.

Let’s look at the culprits.

Jason Kidd

Kidd’s demise has been grossly exaggerated—by yours truly no less. His genius-level court vision, wonderful passing, tough rebounding, alert pushing of the ball, and timely three-point shooting allowed him to have an excellent floor game—4-10 FG, 4-7 3FG, 8 REB, 11 AST, 2 STL, 1 AST, 0 TO, 12 PTS. Kidd’s lone turnover had more to do with Jason Terry’s laziness than any mistake on his own part, and his decision making was superb throughout the game.

What’s more, Kidd played nasty defense, fighting through screens and on the block. Vladimir Radmanovic and Trevor Ariza found out about Kidd’s defense first hand when the former was ripped on a meager postup attempt, and the latter was ripped when slashing into the paint.

In The Clutch

Kidd hit two critical threes to keep the Mavericks close, kept his composure, moved the ball, and with the exception of being unable to fight through a screen and contest a Trevor Ariza three-pointer, played his usual dogged defense.The Mavs lost through no fault of Kidd’s.

Gerald Green

Green made a number of egregious mistakes, lowlighted by an abhorrent decision to try and feed the leaden-handed Erick Dampier on a fast break that led to a turnover, and then running back and hacking Bynum well after Bynum was in the process of dunking the ball.

In The Clutch

Green was exactly where he belonged—on the bench.

Erick Dampier

Dampier bumped, banged, and played with surprisingly effective energy. While he was little match for Andrew Bynum’s length on a number of rebounds, every shot in his vicinity was challenged, and remarkably for Dampier, challenged without a foul.

In The Clutch

Dampier’s inability to move his feet when picking up Kobe Bryant around a screen led to Kobe’s game-sealing basket, and his sterile offensive game allowed the Lakers to defend five-on-four.

Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk’s pump fakes tantalized Pau Gasol the entire first half, and he loved to catch the ball on the right wing, size his man up, and unleash an unguardable 18-foot jumper. He executed many smart passes, but often did so after pump faking Gasol and having an angle on a help defender when driving to the rim. Dirk was also a nightmare in transition, hitting a pair of three-pointers as the trailer on the break.

Defensively, if Dirk was late on several baseline rotations, he was more willing to bang around than in years past. His hands were active and he held his own on the defensive glass.

In The Clutch

Dirk was nowhere to be found. When the Lakers began their run towards the end of the third quarter, Dirk rushed a pair of jumpers early in the shot clock that clanged out. In the fourth, Dirk failed to throw a hand up at a Jordan Farmar runner, rushed a wide-open three that missed badly, was stripped by Kobe 25 feet from the basket, made a nifty runner in the lane, was late closing out on a Gasol jumper, and only attempted three field goals making one of them.

As usual, when an opposing superstar was taking over, and an opposing team was running away with the game, Dirk failed to do anything to dent the opposing team’s run. This lack of a killer instinct and propensity of turning wins into losses is the prime reason why, despite his obvious talents, Dirk isn’t worthy of the hype.

Antoine Wright

Filling in for Josh Howard, Wright worked hard but was overmatched in his defense of Kobe Bryant. On the other end, he plugged his jumpers, and played with inspiring toughness, but lacked the athleticism and the creativity to finish at the rim (three of his attempts were blocked).

In The Clutch

Wright was torched by Kobe in the post, on the perimeter, and everywhere in between. Definitely not an impact player, Wright’s toughness and shooting make him a solid contributor off the end of the bench.

Jason Terry

Terry dazzled off the bench, (13-23 FG, 3-9 3FG, 5 AST, 2 STL, 2 TO, 29 PTS) plugging jumpers, jetting to the hoop in the transition, playing passing lanes for steals, and making plays off of screen/rolls. His energy and ability to score make him one of the most effective bench players in the league.

In The Clutch

Terry was scattered and had no composure. On defense, he was repeatedly beaten by Jordan Farmar, and his botched help assignment on Kobe Bryant led to a Kobe jumper and Devean George irately expressing his displeasure to anyone within earshot.

With the ball in his hands, Terry had no willingness to run an offense and took a number of bad shots. Of his more notable highlights and lowlights, Terry:

  • Didn’t seal his defender and come to a Jason Kidd pass allowing Jordan Farmar to steal the ball and race the other way for a dunk
  • Hit a couple of difficult jumpers, and a nice catch-and-shoot as the Mavs ran dual curls to the middle on each end of the court.
  • Badly rushed a pair of missed jumpers, one of which was blocked by Farmar.
  • Biting on a Jordan Farmar pump fake near the three-point line
  • Missing a layup
  • Hitting a trio of shots with under two minutes left, and the Lakers up nine. Too little too late.

Whatever benefits Terry’s scoring and passing provide are neutralized by his inability to run an offense, his scatterbrain under pressure, and his total lack of defensive discipline.

Devean George

George’s big body, sniping hands, and three-point shooting (2-3 3FG) made him a valuable player off the bench. What’s more, George made Kobe work hard for every shot, and recorded a number of deflections.

In The Clutch

George was beaten time and again by Kobe, and had a three-pointer blocked by Andrew Bynum. George is still a useful player, but he’s not as quick as he once was, and is now only a bit player.

Jose Barea

Barea was shifty around screens, had nice handles, and made a feasting driving by the Lakers’ poor showings on screens, and subsequently playing two-on-one against Andrew Bynum where tricky finishes, or judicious dish offs led to easy points. In fact, his tally of ten points, nine assists, and no turnovers was probably the best stat line of his professional career.

In The Clutch

The Lakers began soft switching onto Barea in the second half so he wouldn’t have a clear launch at the basket. The Lakers had the defensive quickness to rotate over while Barea’s man caught up to him, leaving Jose a non-factor.

Brandon Bass

Bass hit a midrange jumper, had a spectacular post and dunk against Jordan Farmar, couldn’t box out and leap high enough with Bynum, Gasol, and Lamar Odom on the glass, and made several poor decisions throughout the game.

In The Clutch

Bass was out of control forcing a post up early in the shot clock, and missing a handful of rotations.

Dasagna Diop

Diop played terrific help defense, and was one of the few players who held his own with Bynum on the defensive glass.

In The Clutch

Diop’s complete inability to score kept him on the bench. Besides dunking in cookies, and setting effective screens, Diop has no offensive skill defenses have to concern themselves with.

Against the Lakers, the Mavs displayed that they clearly have the talent to win basketball games. In fact, despite their slow start and current sub-500 record, the Mavs are a virtual lock to make the postseason.

But how far can this team go with Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, and Josh Howard failing so often in pressure situations? And the team desperately needs a better defensive stopper than Howard, and a more athletic and consistent center than Dampier.

In fact, as long as Dirk Nowitzki is the face of the franchise, the Mavs will be talented, but they aren’t—and truthfully, never were—close to being a championship-level team.

Erick Blasco is a 21-year-old college student attending Brooklyn College on a full scholarship. He is majoring in Television/Radio and minoring in English with the hopes of someday becoming a professional basketball analyst. Unlike Dirk, his articles always come up big in the clutch.

8 Responses to “Dallas Mavericks Breakdown”

  1. Joe Says:

    Good analysis.

    The talent disparity is obvious.

    However, to be fair to Dirk, he has come up big in the clutch before. The only thing is, it is not often enough. But to generalize that Dirk disappears down the stretch is not true.

  2. Erick Says:

    Before last year, he’s rarely come up big in the clutch, especially against good defenses in the playoffs, and especially in fourth quarters.

    Even last year when it looked like he had turned a corner, he ended up flopping around in the third quarter of Game 1 against the Hornets, so New Orleans knew he was soft and cowardly and attacked and defended the paint mercilessly.

    Dirk went 2-5 from the point of his flop job against Tyson Chandler on, and the whole outlook of the series changed. Besides a blowout Game 3 win, Dirk was outplayed in every fourth quarter last year, and that’s not taking into account his massive choke jobs against the Warriors and the Heat.

  3. Alec Says:

    By ignoring the fact that for two years the Mavericks were unquestionably the deepest and most talented team in the NBA, you undermine your credibility. They 2006-7 Mavericks were one of the most efficient teams of all time, scoring almost every possession while limiting possessions to the point that a team with any inefficiencies could not win. They lost because Avery Johnson got psyched out by small sample size losses to the Warriors and changed up his lineup, leaving them in a hole at the beginning of the season. This micromanaging quality of the Little General has always been his best and worst characteristic, and does not mean that the Mavs have never been a title contender.

  4. Alec Says:

    By the way, to everyone accusing Dirk of not coming up big in the clutch throughout his career, I refer you to the Memphis series of the Finals run, along with one of the most clutch showings of any NBA players of the last few years, GAME 7 of the 2006 Conference Finals: Driving and one to tie it and takes over OT

  5. Erick Says:

    And Avery’s micromanaging doesn’t explain how Dirk was pushed around by Stephen Jackson the entire series. Do championship caliber players get pushed around by Stephen Jackson?

    I believe the series you were trying to reference was the conference semi’s against San Antonio, where Dirk’s inability to defend Duncan with 30 seconds left led to a Manu Ginobili three, and on the next possession, Dirk blatantly hooked his arm around Bruce Bowen and should’ve been called for an offensive foul for his game-tying and-one against the Spurs.

    That same series, Dirk was stripped with two minutes to go in a three-point game, and missed a layup with a minute to go in a Game One where he went 1-4.

    In Game Four of that series, he went 0-4 in the fourth quarter and OT (though he did hit a big pair of free throws to tie the game at the end of regulation).

    In Game Five Dirk was stuffed by Bowen with ten seconds left.

    In Game Six, Dirk could only manage four points in the fourth quarter of a close loss.

    And in Game Seven, if the refs see Dirk’s right hand, Dallas never makes it to the conference Finals.

    Dirk had a solid Game 2 in an easy win, a great Game 3, and a big fourth quarter of Game 7 until the end.

    He’s also never been a quality defender, and before Avery Johnson came on board, never was a really forceful rebounder.

    And beating an Eight Seed is nice and all, but I’d rather see Dirk dominate a good team rather than an eight-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.

  6. Alec Says:

    First of all, if you are complaining about officiating in 2006 playoffs, watch the Finals, punch yourself in the face like everyone else trying to figure out what the hell was going on, and then stop talking.

    But first of all, Johnson’s micromanaging did not assign Jackson to Dirk. Jackson got his assignment from Don Nelson, the man who taught Dirk how to play NBA basketball. You think he might be able to help someone with guarding him? Maybe?

    And how about his conference finals against the Suns. I see you missed that. And in 2005 when he scored 50 in Game 5 against the Suns to turn around a series that looked lost. Bashers always leave out what doesn’t fit their theories. You fit the pattern. Kobe Bryant scored zero points in the second half of a Game 7 in the playoffs. Yet nobody argues that he cannot be a championship team leader. Good. They are right. He is definitely capable of carrying a championship team and probably will this year The fact that you can find evidence that supports your opinion doesn’t mean you get to ignore the rest.

    Also, to address your other points, Dwayne Wade is no All-Defensive player, and Dirk has improved his defense exponentially even since 2006. His three top rebounding seasons were under Don Nelson, not Avery Johnson, so hire a fact-checker.

    I am not saying that this Mavericks team is a favorite or even a strong contender. But if someone tries to say a team that was up 2-0 in an NBA Finals, then proceeded to one of the dominating regular seasons in history was never a true contender, then that person is a moron. I will even give you that the Mavs blew that series (again, thanks Avery), although anyone with half a brain can see that the refs were the winning team in that series.

  7. Erick Says:

    I saw Wade constantly attacking the rim at will and intimidating the Mavs and the refs so bad that the refs were almost too scared not to call fouls. Then I saw Dirk unable to gain separation against Udonis Haslem and James Posey after each of them crowded Dirk and took away his dribble right, spin left jumper.

    Seeing a player who considers himself to be an elite player get shut down by Udonis Haslem did in fact make me want to punch myself in the face.

    And yeah, Don Nelson has secrets about Dirk that nobody else knows. As if Nelson is the only player that understands that you can crowd Dirk with a strong player who moves his feet and push him around.

    Remember when I brought up the part about good defense? Please explain to me how that Suns team (in 2006 they beat Phoenix…in 2005 they lost to Phoenix, maybe you should hire a fact checker) qualifies as a good defensive team when Tim Thomas or Shawn Marion were guarding Dirk the majority of the time with almost no help defense.

    Nobody argues about Kobe because he’s actually, you know, led his team to championships before. Dirk had all the breaks in the world, and did nothing but miss free throws and collapse in fourth quarters against Miami.

    Just like he did absolutely nothing against the Lakers Friday night when LA made its run. Just like he did nothing against the Hornets when they made their runs. Just like he did nothing against the Warriors when they pushed him around, etc, etc, etc.

    Dwayne Wade plays defense with energy, fights through screens, and doesn’t miss rotations. He’s no all-defensive first teamer but he’s better than Dirk.

    And there is a huge difference between getting more rebounds and being a better rebounder. Early in his career, Dirk wouldn’t box out, wouldn’t fight for loose balls, and would easily get pushed around. His rebounding totals were the product of being on a team with no other rebounding presence. He’s been much more assertive on the glass these past few seasons.

    The Mavs faced an eight seed, a defenseless Suns team, a Spurs team with half its roster crippled from plantar fascitiis, and was up 2-0 on the worst NBA champion of the millennium, and couldn’t get it done.

    Anyone with half a brain could see that if Dirk did anything against Haslem and Posey in Game 3, neither the Heat, nor the refs, would have had a chance do a damn thing about winning that series.

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