Coach Em Up: Mavs Send Vince To The Rim
In recent days, we've made the strongest possible case for Shawn Marion as a DPOY finalist. Meanwhile, we've expressed some befuddlement over Vince Carter serving as a finisher in 'Trix's stead.
If you are a DB.com Premium Fan, you know that our befuddlement spilled over into an on-camera conflict with Marion himself, who presumably forgot for a moment that our questions aren't challenges ... they're just questions.
But that was last week and this is now, and the facts are:
a) There's been no "rag-doll'' bellyaching from 'Trix, and
b) Vince himself has waged a four-game argument in favor of himself as an offensive weapon deserving of being right behind Dirk and Jet on the Dallas Mavericks' clutch-time totem pole.
On Friday, the reclamation-project Carter scored 13 points in the final period against the Warriors. On Saturday the first-year Mav (but 13-year NBA veteran) contribured nine fourth-quarter points against the Bulls, hitting four of his five shot attempts.
He's flipped a switch.
Four games ago, Carter had taken more than five free throws only once all season. In these last four, he's taken six, six, eight and seven.
As DB.com pointed out over the weekend, he's no longer settling quietly into the Peja Stojakovic role on this offense, steadfastly bound to the perimeter -- something that would've been an easier job and a valued-at-its-level contribution.
But no. Dig inside our breakdown of the last four games and note the nugget of gold: Carter's four-game averages are ... 18.8 points, 41.5 field-goal percentage, 31.6 3-point percentage, 6.8 free-throw attempts, 92.6 free-throw percentage, 6.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1 steal.
An average of 13.3 shots being converted into 18.8 points?
There's your gold. Only once previously all year had Vince shot six FTs in a game ... and in the last four games, that's his average? There's your gold ...
Let's examine three jump-up facets of Vince's attacking style that lead to his success.
1) The drive and finish.
This is the way Carter's been doing it all his life. ... and in fairness to his season-long work here, he's had a series of monster dunks (followed by the cute "motorcycle-rev'' hand motions.) The drive and dunk is classic Vinsanity.
He is very dangerous off the dribble when the defense over-rotates to take away his 3-point shot. VC is capable of scoring in a number of crafty ways around the rim. Carter has also been effective in screen-roll oppurtunities through out his career. He has shown that he still has the ability to turn the corner and make things happen. When the defense does not respect his ability to finish he can still make them pay.
1) The drive and kick.
This is a relatively new wrinkle to Carter's contributions here, and in terms of X's and O's, it points directly to why Carlisle is putting him on the floor in the clutch. Sure, Vince's role is in part due to the departure of Odom. But it's even more because of his spread-the-floor effectiveness. Vince provides perimeter spacing, allows Dirk Nowitzki to benefit from the same, and when Carter breaks down his defender ... everybody benefits.
3) The drawing of the foul
The Mavs have too few offensive players who can iso, break down defenders and get to the rim. Carter is among them. The Mavs also have too few guys who can finish strong, get to the line, and complete the three-point play, which provides a scoring boost, a momentum boost and foul trouble for the opponent.
Note from this Lakers highlight how Vince's aggressiveness creates a lot of contact around the rim. When he gets the step on Pau you'll notice how reluctant the Lakers are to rotate off of the shooters. When the Mavs can get Vince isolated against a slower player he is able to face up and drive, when he gets a smaller player he is able to post or shot the jumper.
For Dallas, Carter is suddenly the guy who can do all three things needed to make drives to the rim fully effective.
It's a worthy button being pushed by Carlisle ... and we're going to shut up about Carter vs. Marion because Rick -- and the two players themselves -- have made both buttons work.