This Sunday, the Golden State Warriors (30-39) will take on the Dallas Mavericks (48-21) in a match up that the Mavs have held a firm grip on as evidenced by their 2-0 record against the Dubs this season. Granted, the Warriors have played the Mavs quite well in previous encounters but have had trouble finishing games against them.

On offense, the Dallas Mavericks score 100.4 points per game (11th in the NBA) on 47.7% field goal shooting (second in the league). The strength of the Mavericks offense is their ability to consistently make perimeter jump shots from every spot on the floor. Have a look at the shooting data compiled by Hoopdata:

Shot location FG% NBA rank
At rim 66.6 5
3-9 feet 39.2 13
10-15 feet 43.0 4
16-23 feet 45.8 1
3-pt range 37.3 7

Needless to say, the Mavericks are an extremely tough team to defend given their ability to shoot effectively from everywhere on the court. To capitalize on their shooting, the Mavs rely on a lot of ball movement as evidenced by their 23.8 assists per game (third in the NBA). Indeed, Dallas does a lot of screening and moving to create match ups, but also to get defenders trailing as Mavericks players are able to catch and shoot without the fear of getting their shots blocked or contested.

Mind you, in the case of Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, anything goes. Rick Carlisle will call some isolation sets for them and quite often it seems as though it does not matter what type of defense is thrown at them; they will just catch the ball, size up their defender and get the shot they want.

Further complicating matters for their opponents, they will occasionally have Shawn Marion post up smaller defenders and score on them. In the event that he gets double teamed, it forces teams to rotate which typically results in a player getting open. Combine that with Beaubois and Barrea’s ability to break down defenses off the dribble and you can see why defenses struggle to contain the Mavericks’ offense.

In two games against the Warriors this season, the Dallas Mavericks have scored 108.5 points per game on 48.2% field goal shooting. Dallas has driven Golden State crazy by scoring 41.0 points in the paint against the Dubs all the while shooting 38.5% from downtown. In addition, the Mavs have been able to manufacture 27.0 free throw attempts against the Warriors this season.

On defense, Dallas surrenders 95.6 points per game (10th in the NBA) on 45.2% field goal shooting (12th in the league). The Mavericks typically do a great job of limiting their opponents’ attempts at the rim. According to Hoopdata, the Mavs yield a mere 23.3 shots at the rim per game (ninth best in the league).

Limiting opponents’ attempts at the rim is a product of the team’s defensive philosophy but it certainly helps to have great defensive players such as Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler. Indeed, Marion is a wonderful defender given his ability to guard multiple positions and do it well. For instance, he might be asked in the same game to alternate assignments and guard the likes of Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol. Against the Warriors? He might see David Lee, Monta Ellis or Dorell Wright.

Chandler is a far simpler player in the sense that he defends one position. However, he excels at doing so. He bumps and pushes centers on defense to take them out of what they want to do and usually seals the deal by contesting the shot and forcing the miss.

The one problem for the Mavericks though, their sum is greater than its parts on defense. They play good team defense but have a few liabilities on the team that will force them into help situations. With the exception of Shawn Marion and possibly DeShawn Stevenson, the Mavs do not have any great perimeter defenders; hence teams can typically break down them of the dribble for midrange jumpers.

Have a look at how the Dubs top scorer have faired against the Mavs:

Player PPG FG%
Monta Ellis 22.0 45.9
David Lee 21.0 52.8
Stephen Curry 15.5 46.2
Dorell Wright 15.5 40.0

More than half of David Lee’s shot attempts against (22-of-36 tries) the Mavs have actually come from away from the basket (22-of-36 tries). The Dubs leading scorers have been able to do some damage against the Dallas defense because of their ability to produce high percentage looks from midrange. Wright’s shooting percentage is lower in comparison to the others and it’s not by accident; he is a finisher more so than a creator. He is good at catching and shooting and catching and going up to the basket, but creating his own shot is somewhat problematic and that’s what the Mavs defense dares teams to do.

With that said though, Dallas struggles to defend Golden State judging from the 103.0 points per game allowed to the Dubs on 48.8% field goal shooting. The Warriors seem to have the Mavericks number, as they are able to generate 46.0 points per game in the paint against them and share the ball to the tune of 24.0 assists per game.

The one thing the Mavericks defense has done consistently well against the Warriors is keep them off free throw line. Golden State has shot 32 freebies in both games combined.

If the Dubs are going to get a win against the Mavericks, they will have to defend better. They cannot allow Dallas to get points inside the paint and get open looks from beyond the arc; they will have to either close out on shooters and dare them to take midrange shots or attack the basket, or simply defend the paint and dare the Mavs to beat them from deep. The Warriors will have to make a choice, instead of allowing the Mavericks pick which they prefer depending on the possession.

Dallas game notes: In two games against the Warriors this season, Dirk Nowitzki is averaging 29.5 points per game and 7.5 rebounds on 50.0% field goal shooting and 66.6% three-point field goal shooting.

Golden State game notes: In two games against the Mavericks this season, Andris Biedrins is averaging 7.5 points and 9.5 rebounds on 70.0% field goal shooting.

Questions or comments? Feel free to leave them in the comments section or you can contact me by email at [email protected]. You can also find me on Twitter with the handle name @ShyneIV.

One Response

  1. finzent

    As a Dallas supporter, that seems about right to me. Although you may be overstating Marion’s defensive impact a little, who is not the great defender he once was. Before Butler went down, Marion was only the second best perimeter defender on the team.