After a tough overtime loss at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, the Golden State Warriors (32-44) will try to bounce back tonight by avoiding a season sweep at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks (53-22). The Mavs are coming off a 28-point loss at the hands of the Lakers that basically counted for two defeats. Dallas loss the game on the scoreboard but they also lost a psychological battle as the Lakers essentially had their way with them and even finished a skirmish that the Mavericks started. Terry started things off by pushing Blake in the back to the floor and Matt Barnes and other Lakers players then got in his grill while the rest of his teammates watched the spectacle.
In previous seasons, the Warriors could have gone into tonight’s game with Stephen Jackson and Matt Barnes and essentially inflict that same type of physical and psychological damage on the Mavericks, but not this time around. The Dubs no longer take things away from opponents.
On the season, this Rick Carlisle team is averaging 99.9 points per game (12th in the NBA) on 47.4 percent field goal shooting (fifth in the league). Dallas does a great job of scoring the ball because they understand where the shots have to come from, and also because they have a plethora of shooters on the team. As a result, the Mavericks routinely create open perimeter shots that they consistently knock down.
The one drawback to having a team of potent shooters is that they rarely venture inside the paint. And indeed, the Mavericks only average 35.8 points in the paint per game (29th in the NBA) and thus only get to the free throw line 22.5 times (26th in the league) per game.
Mind you in their three head to head match ups with the Warriors, the Mavs are averaging 106.0 points per game on 46.3 percent field goal shooting. Their scoring in the paint is on par with what they have done on the season, scoring 35.3 points in the paint against the Dubs.
Dallas has been successful against Golden State because they have taken advantage of their poor transition defense to score 23.6 fast break points on average. In addition, the Mavericks have shot the lights out against the Dubs as evidenced by their 37.0 percent 3-point shooting in those three games.
Their perimeter shooting has also allowed them to stretch the floor and then get to the paint and draw fouls. The Mavs are manufacturing 26.3 free throw attempts in their match ups against the Warriors.
For all of Dallas’ firepower on offense, their success this season stems from their ability to combine a strong offense with an equally strong defense. On the year, the Mavericks are surrendering 96.0 points per game (10th best in the NBA) on 45.0 percent field goal shooting (eighth best in the league).
Rick Carlisle’s defense has been good this season because they have kept teams away from the basket. Indeed, according to Hoopdata, the Mavericks’ defense only yields 23.2 shot attempts at the rim per game (ninth least in the association). Consequently, they force teams to shoot from deep and midrange to get their points.
Granted it helps to have solid defensive players like Shawn Marion and Tyson Chandler on the team to help defend opposing perimeter and interior scoring threats. They usually do a good job of defending players without any additional help. This allows the Mavs to be versatile on defense given the team’s collective defensive IQ.
Indeed, the Mavericks usually do a great job of rotating on defense and taking the ball away from the opposing team’s best scoring threats. Where they get themselves into trouble is when they have to play teams with multiple scoring options. They are a good defensive unit collectively, however the Mavericks can be exploited at shooting guard, power forward and at times at point guard. As a result, Dallas tries to send some of their help defense that way to limit scoring opportunities but it usually leads to them scrambling around to recover.
This partly explains why the Mavericks yield 41.5 points in the paint per game (20th in the NBA); their inability to defend perimeter players (Marion usually guards the opposing small forward, hence the shooting guard ends up matched up with Beaubois, Kidd, Barrea or Terry) leads to opponents getting in the paint because of dribble penetration.
Against the Warriors, the Mavericks defense has surrendered 93.0 points per game on 44.6 percent field goal shooting. Those numbers are somewhat misleading though because Golden State scored 100 and 106 points in the first two contests against the Mavericks and were then shut down in the third one where they only scored 73 points.
With that said, the most recent contest illustrated how the Warriors were able to hang with Dallas: fast break points. In the first two games, the Mavericks surrendered 52 fast break points. The fast pace in those games resulted in the Dubs getting several early offense opportunities, which led to open 3-point attempts.
Indeed, the Dubs shot a blistering 19-for-44 (43.2%) from downtown in the first two contests.
The third game was far different mind you, as Dallas did a great job of dictating the pace and relegating Golden State to executing in the halfcourt. Rick Carlisle’s defense held the Dubs offense to 12 fast break points and a tough 5-for-20 (25.0%) 3-point shooting performance.
In order for the Warriors to get a shot at upsetting the Mavs, it’s important that they establish their pace and fly down the court after forcing misses and turnovers to get some easy transition opportunities. The frantic pace should allow Golden State to get Dallas’ defense out of position where they can capitalize on open shots from deep. Also, the Warriors backcourt should be able to put some points on the board against the Mavericks.
Dallas game notes: In three games against the Warriors this season, Rodrigue Beaubois has averaged 16.5 points, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals on 54.5 percent field goal shooting.
Golden State game notes: In three games against the Mavericks this season, Monta Ellis has averaged 20.7 points, 7.3 assists and 2.0 steals on 43.6 percent field goal shooting.
More game notes: Monta Ellis is nursing a bad ankle but is expected to play tonight.