Friday Mavs Donuts: Red River Shootout!
DONUT 1: TABLE SETTINGS ...
The table has been set, the invitations sent out and now the seating chart has been finalized. For your Dallas Mavericks it will be a rematch of last year's Western Conference Finals as the Oklahoma City Thunder will be sitting on the opposing bench. Beyond this fact, there's almost nothing to draw from the Mavs season finale, where they did little more than control minutes and keep their health, falling by a final of 106-89.
''It'd be a stretch to say we're playing our best,'' Mavs coach Rick Carlisle says. "At this point, we have to move forward. We're going to have to flush this one - very quickly.''
Dallas finishes the season 36-30, losing at least 30 games for only the fourth time in the last 12 years … needing only 66 total games to reach that total this go around.
But, that falls by the wayside now. The playoffs hover at the horizon, where a new season lies in wait.
DONUT 2: THE UBERMAN ...
Dirk Nowitzki played 26 minutes in Atlanta, scoring 22 points by hitting 7-of-12 field goals and gave us all a good scare when he went down hard after a drive early in the game, rising slowly while seeming to work out something in either his left arm, wrist or hand. Thankfully for the Mavs, there appeared to be no lingering issues as Dirk did not leave the game and did not go on to struggle.
DONUT 3: BULLETIN-BOARD MATERIAL? ...
OKC has earned the 2 seed. The Mavs have played like a 7 seed. So maybe "bold talk'' from OKC isn't bold at all. ... no matter what happened last year.
"We're a different team from last year and they're a different team from last year,'' Kevin Durant tells the OKC paper. "So I doubt that that series will be the same."
Here's what we DO know: The schedule:
G1 - Sat, Dallas at OKC, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
G2 - Mon., Dallas at OKC, 8:30 p.m. (TNT)
G3 - Thu., OKC at Dallas, 8:30 p.m. (TNT)
G4 - May 5, OKC at Dallas, 6:30 p.m. (TNT)
G5* - May 7, Dallas at OKC, TBD (TBD)
G6* - May 10, OKC at Dallas, TBD (TBD)
G7* - May 12, Dallas at OKC, TBD (TNT)
"It's a great matchup,'' Carlisle says. "There's geographic interest, because the two teams are close together, and we had a really intense series with them last year. So, it's a tough matchup, but we're looking forward to it."
DONUT 4: MAVS DB.COM GET-TOGETHER SATURDAY NIGHT! ...
Game 1 is at 8:30 Saturday at OKC. And we'll have the Mavs DB.com Get-Together tipping off at that time, too!
RED ROCK Bar & Grill gives you the Mavs on the 200-inch screen - the biggest TV in Texas!
Red Rock is at the corner of Frankford & Midway, Just off the Tollway, at 18110 Midway Rd Dallas, TX 75287 .. (972) 733-3683. ... and we're proud to have Red Rock Bar & Grill as a partner at DB.com!
We'll be there at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, with Mavs giveaways, drink specials and live music after the game! Come see Fish and The 75-Member Staff at Red Rock!
DONUT 5: RODDY STARTS AGAIN ...
With Jason Kidd resting, Roddy Beaubois got the start at point guard and finished with 13 points, 5-of-12 field goals, six assists, five rebounds, one block … and four turnovers.
This wasn't bad Roddy B, nor was it one of the games that will stand out. Much like the effort of the team in general, it falls somewhere in the inconspicuous space of near irrelevancy … meaning, nothing occurred that likely made an impact on any playoff rotation machinations tumbling though Carlisle's mind.
Now, that's our opinion. It's worth noting that after we stated that opinion last night on FoxSportsSouthwest, colleague Bob Ortegel disagreed, saying he bets Roddy will have a role.
For now, in Atlanta, Roddy was the lone starter to play over 30 minutes at 33:34.
DONUT 6: SHOULD WE CALL HIM "AZ" (SOUNDS LIKE "OZ")? ...
It's likely nothing to impact this season's playoffs, but it was nice to see the newest Maverick, Kelenna Azubuike, get some late-game burn and look solid on the court.
In 7:40, Azubuike scored seven points (his first NBA points since Nov. 13 2009, when he had 22 of them for the Warriors), including a dunk and a 3-pointer among his 3-of-5 field goals, one steal and a pair of turnovers.
Again, any contribution he makes will likely manifest itself in the years to come, but it remains a pleasant sight to see good things come from him, no matter how briefly.
DONUT 7: A THROWAWAY? ...
Things couldn't have ended much differently this season in comparison to last. A year ago, Dallas closed with four straight wins, including a thorough thumping of the playoff-bound New Orleans Hornets … though that Mavs team also went 2-9 in their final 11 games against playoff teams and did endure a four-game losing streak just prior to the four wins that ended the season.
That defeat of the Hornets certainly didn't hurt, but most look four games further to find the turning point for that Dallas team … when Portland's Brandon Roy wrapped up an improbable comeback to even the series at two. You may say those final four games of the regular season did nothing more than set the table for a 2-2 playoff start. You may label it something straying closer to irrelevancy than foretelling.
This year Dallas is again 2-9 in their final 11 games against teams headed to the postseason, but fell soundly to the Hawks in their final contest. They avoid the Lakers in the first round, but find the team with the second best record in the West, OKC, as their consolation prize.
Against Atlanta, Dallas began by allowing the most points they've given up in the first quarter all season (38). The Mavs dug themselves a hole that put the game essentially out of reach from the start. If it wasn't a certainty to begin with, the role of the game was quickly defined as one last chance to "practice" against a live opponent. With that in mind, perhaps the fact that Dallas was even with Atlanta over the final three quarters is a small comfort … but not really.
There was no comfort here, nor any reason to compound existing concerns. Whatever you thought of the Mavs chances prior to this contest should probably be where you remain.
DONUT 8: THE MAVS TWITTERVERSE ...
Follow the game on Twitter with the Mavs Twitterverse ... As has been the case for 13 years, the 75-Member Staff is the best in the Mavs business!
DONUT 9: PERHAPS WORTH WORRYING ABOUT ...
If you want something that may be worthy of drawing your concern, how about these numbers over the 32 games Dallas played after the All-Star break:
Points per game: 97.3
Opponents FG%: 45.4
Opponents 3PT%: 35.8
Opponents points per game: 99.1
Point Differential: -1.8
If you stretch those opponent-stats over the complete season it would leave the Mavs ranking 21st in field-goal percentage, 23rd in points allowed, and 21st in point differential.
There's nothing promising to be found there.
That said ... this included a disastrous stretch of nine games in 12 days, considerable injury woes and perhaps the registering impact of a team that openly stated it simply wanted to make the playoffs, regardless of seeding, with their health as the season began.
There's little relevance in comparing the entirety of this regular season with those past due to the extenuating circumstances influencing every second of it. Considering the complete context of this Mavs team as a whole, it isn't unreasonable to conclude that all of the numbers are in fact "dirty data" as Mark Cuban long ago stated.
DONUT 10: THE DEEPEST MAVS COVERAGE ANYWHERE! ...
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DONUT 11: SO, IT'S GONNA BE OKC ...
Here's a brief glimpse into how these teams have performed against each other this season.
Head-to-head, the Mavs are 1-3 over four games. Some basic numbers:
Mavs: 94.8 points, 42.3 FG%, 32.9 3PT%, 39.8 rebounds, 20.3 assists, 5.0 blocks, 10.5 steals, 12.5 TOs
OKC: 95.3 points, 43.8 FG%, 30.0 3PT%, 44.8 rebounds, 15.3 assists, 8.3 blocks, 7.3 steals, 17.0 TOs,
Here's how a few of the key players for each team did in those games:
Dirk Nowitzki: 4 games, 22.5 points, 44.3 FG%, 30.0 3PT%, 7.3 rebounds, 2.5 TOs
Jason Kidd: 3 games, 3.0 points, 37.5 FG%, 42.9 3PT%, 4.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 3 TOs
Jason Terry: 4 games, 18.5 points, 44.8 FG%, 47.8 3PT%, 5.5 assists, 1.3 TOs
Delonte West: 2 games, 8 points, 42.9 FG%, 40 3PT%, 3.0 assists, 2.5 TOs
Vince Carter: 4 games (2 starts), 7.5 points, 32.1 FG%, 28.6 3PT%, 2.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1 TOs
Kevin Durant: 4 games, 25.5 points, 44.6 FG%, 36.4 3PT%, 8.3 rebounds, 3 assists, 4.8 TOs
Russell Westbrook: 4 games, 22.8 points, 39.2 FG%, 30.8 3PT%, 6.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 4.0 TOs
James Harden: 4 games, 14.3 points, 39.0 FG%, 15.0 3PT%, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 TO
You may also remember the game on Feb 1 in which Serge Ibaka collected 10 blocks.
A couple of quick observations from those numbers:
* Three of the four games occurred prior to when Dirk Nowitzki finally appeared to overcome the physical ailments that plagued him early in the season, including that 9-day absence for a mini-training camp.
*That may be a significant factor as Dirk averaged 16.7 points while shooting 44.8 percent from the floor and 20 percent behind the arc through January, before finding his groove (a period that, again, included thee of the four games against the Thunder), and then 24.1 points with 46.5 field-goal and 41.6 3-point percentages after.
*You'll also notice that two players that must be significant contributors to this series if the Mavs are to move on, Jason Kidd and Delonte West, both missed games.
*Vince Carter must be more efficient and have a greater impact in the series than he did in the regular season.
*We didn't list Shawn Marion's stats, but you can see his impact in the very high turnover totals for both Durant and Westbrook (both of whom Marion spend time defending – often without the aid of West of Kidd) as well as field-goal percentages well below their season averages.
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD ...
When you get down to it, the game against Atlanta carries no weight and likely no significance. Most fans had their hopes set in avoiding a first-round matchup with the Lakers anyway, something that could be ensured with a loss. Considering the outcomes of the games this season, it's hard to believe the players may have not shared in this preference … even if only subconsciously.
One thing we can take from it: the regular season is over.
This team was built to endure the regular season, to attack the playoffs. The results may not bear this out, but the time to find if there's truth in this statement has finally arrived. The formality of the games that "don't count" has passed.
From Jason Kidd: ''The dress rehearsal's over. Now it's time for us to protect our crown.''
Anything can happen in the postseason, and you won't find us among those leaping to the front of the line that wants to dismiss this team's chances. For the first time in Dallas history, the Mavericks will take the court with championship experience, a trait we've so often tossed respect for in others now resides within.
As Rudy Tomjanovich once said, "Don't ever underestimate the heart of a champion."
Beating from the Mavs bench are the hearts of Carlisle and staff, and Dirk, Kidd, Terry, Marion, Brendan Haywood, Ian Mahinmi, Brian Cardinal, Roddy Beaubois and Dominique Jones … the hearts of champions.