- Tip Off: 7:30 p.m. (PT)
- Television: TNT
Dallas Mavericks Team Profile
- Offensive Efficiency: 101.8 (15th in NBA)
- Defensive Efficiency: 104.3 (22nd in NBA)
- Points: O.J. Mayo, 17.8 PPG
- Rebounds: Shawn Marion, 8.1 RPG
- Assists: Darren Collison, 5.2 APG
- Steals: Darren Collison, 1.5 SPG
- Blocks: Elton Brand, 1.2 BPG
- Field Goal Percentage: Brandan Wright, 62.5% FG
- 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: O.J. Mayo, 41.9% 3PT FG
Scope the Opposition: The Two Man Game.
Preview: The Dallas Mavericks have split their last four games with their most recent performance leading to a perplexing defeat in Portland Tuesday night.
Rick Carlisle’s group took a 101-94 lead with 2:18 left in the game and then just basically self-destructed down the stretch. They committed four turnovers and repeatedly put the Trail Blazers at the free throw line, which allowed the home team to chip away at the deficit.
With 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Nicolas Batum hit a huge 3-pointer to tie the game.
But Dirk Nowitzki reminded the hostile arena that he is a former league and Finals MVP by hitting a killer shot from downtown with 11 seconds left to give his team a three-point lead.
LaMarcus Aldridge came back on the ensuing possession and hit a corner 3-pointer to once again tie the game with 4 seconds remaining. Dallas called timeout, inbounded the ball to O.J. Mayo with a head of steam going to the basket and he was called for an offensive foul.
Portland inbounded the ball to Aldridge in the low post where he hit a beautiful turnaround jumper as the red lights came on to give the Blazers the victory.
Portland fans were ecstatic while the Mavericks and their faithful probably felt as though they had just gotten slapped in the face and punched in the gut.
But this type of poor closeout wasn’t exactly news in Dallas.
For most of the season, their defense has jus struggled to come up with stops when the team has needed it the most. Indeed, NBA.com’s advanced stats tool tells us that the Mavs are in the bottom third in clutch (defined as the last five minutes of a game with the scoring margin within five points are less) defensive efficiency, allowing 112 points per 100 possessions.
That is just awful defense, especially when we take into the account the fact that teams tend to abandon their offense late in games, and just rely on the talents of individuals, much like Portland did earlier in the week.
Further exacerbating the issue is that Dallas’ offense down the stretch of games just hasn’t been able to produce offense at a rate more efficient than what their defense has been allowing this season.
Put it all together, and the Mavericks have only won 10 of their 24 games decided by five points or less.
But there is one wildcard to it all.
On their way to the 2011 title, the Mavericks relied heavily on Nowitzki’s scoring exploits to carry them down the stretch of games.
This season, that hasn’t been exactly possible given the time he missed due to injury and there’s also the fact that his timing hasn’t exactly been optimal in the 18 games he’s played this season. Nonetheless, he has looked a little bit better as of late and even shot the ball quite well in his last two games.
No group of individuals is happier than his teammates about this potential development because he has only been converting 37.5 percent of his spot up jumpers this season according to MySynergySports.
Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped him from converting 10-of-21 (47.6 percent) of his shots in clutch situations this season according to NBA.com’s advanced stats tool. The German is still impossible to defend on the low block and in isolation situations where few defenders have the length and quickness to stay with him.
The Diggler used those tools in the 2011 playoffs to convert 53.6 percent of his clutch field goal attempts and get to the line 34 times per NBA.com’s advanced stats tool. Obviously, the roster is different, which changes the dynamic of the Mavericks in 2013, but if Dirk can replicate any of that championship magic, Dallas might just check into the thick of the playoff race no matter how unlikely it seems at present time.
With that said, should the game be close late tonight at Oracle Arena, pay special attention to Dirk’s scoring prowess, but also take a special interest in how Mavericks defend the Warriors.
If Klay Thompson and company are getting a multitude of open looks down the stretch, it may just mean that Golden State is headed for a home victory.
Statistical support provided by NBA.com.
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