Roddy B, Peja & Dallas' Defense 'Disposition'

Are the Mavs highest hopes mingling with their biggest fears? Could the assimilation of Peja and Roddy B be a threat to the 'disposition' (a Carlisle petword) Dallas has spent all season trying to attain? This isn't about the shots Peja has missed, nor is it a questioning of Roddy B readiness, only the shift that may have to be embraced as they grab up minutes.

These are two players with specialties tending to lean towards the offensive side of the ball, likely replacing those with a higher defensive prowess by direct comparison.

We'll start with Peja Stojakovic.

When his shot is falling, which we believe will come, he can crush the spirit of an opposing team by raining 3's upon them with furious efficiency. Yet, he's never been lauded as a strong defender, particularly as he's grown older, a weakness that has become somewhat evident in his first three games with the Mavs.

There's a reason the bench has been asked to score 60, 58 and then 72 points in the three games Peja has started, and it may not be born of the rust in his shooting or the setback of Dirk Nowitzki's wrist injury. Over the course of those three contests the Mavs have allowed their opponent -- despite the inclusion of two basement-level teams in the sample -- to score an average of 29.6 points as Dallas has posted a point differential of minus-seven (per game) in the first quarter.

Smile

Removing Denver from the equation, where Peja did not play in the second half, the story is the same in the third quarter, where they have allowed an average of 25 points as well as being a minus-seven (per game) on the scoreboard … with Cleveland and Sacramento forming the entirety of the sample pool.

Obviously, these point-differential numbers are inflated by the fact that Stojakovic's shot isn't falling, but it also highlights the struggles of a defense against two inferior offensive teams and then the Nuggets.

Is the hope for Peja's offense carrying with it the side effect of a shift in style away from the defensive-minded play that has forged the team's success to this point, when healthy? Caron Butler may not have been known for his defense, though he was having a strong statistical mark there (Dallas allowed 6.06 less points less with Butler on the court, the largest positive difference of any single player on the team), but there's no denying there is a drop off from almost any player the Mavs have started at small forward to Peja on that side of the ball.

Now to Beaubois.

Should Roddy B push DeShawn Stevenson further down the minute totem pole, would the swing push even wider? With JJ Barea playing so well and Jason Terry a fixture in the rotation, Stevenson would appear a likely candidate to bear the largest impact to his playing time if a healthy Peja and Roddy B are added to the rotation, as minutes would be drained from both the small forward and shooting guard positions.

Just as Peja is not the defender Caron Butler was at small forward, Roddy B – for all his waterbug promise and leaping ability as a defender -- cannot match the defensive intensity of Stevenson.

While Peja is working off the rust, Beaubois will come back (possibly by Wednesday for the home game against the Kings?) saddled by both rust and inexperience.

It'll have been more than five months since Roddy B has played in a competitive situation. He will initially fall back on his most reliable talents. Those talents are offense-related.

Beyond the changing names of the players seeing the court, there may be other influences factoring in as well.

We questioned the notion at the time, and must fall back to it now.

"It's gonna be up-tempo, high-paced. And I don't think the first team to 100 wins this one, but I think it's gonna be over 120."

Those were the words of Jason Terry prior to the Knicks game, and they signify a departure from what this team has scratched and clawed their way towards becoming: a defensive force. They speak of a "disposition" willing to abandon a defense-first mentality in favor of seeking to outscore an opponent. While it is a positive that the Mavs were able to defeat a high-octane New York team, is it a negative that such a course seemed to be embraced in the first place … much as it appeared to be against the Nuggets Thursday night, when a defensive presence was far from constant and a 121-120 loss was the result?

While it is a positive to house the ability to outscore an opponent when it becomes a must, should the approach ever cradle that thought prior to it becoming a must?

Smile

We're looking at a very limited sample size and understand drawing conclusions on such limited data can be wildly corrupt, but the fear is real. Of course, so is the phobia of having too few scorers and/or penetrators.

Dallas needs what Peja and Roddy B bring to the offensive table, but the Mavericks must be careful not to lose their defensive mindset while seeking to unleash these new, or returning, weapons.

Changes are coming, but the foundation laid all season must remain.

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