Inside Practice: Ellis Wear-And-Tear?
The Dallas Mavericks have some issues today. Sam Dalembert's sleep patterns are on that list, but he was at practice on Monday so the alarm clock works. Shawn Marion was there, too, but due to the ankle he twisted -- and played through -- in Sunday's loss to the Knicks -- he spent the day on the exercise bike.
"Today's a day we've got to get the wheels back on the wagon,'' coach Rick Carlisle said.
As attention turned from the four-game home losing streak, as it must, to Tuesday's visit from the Lakers, Monta Ellis was there, too, of course. Fully invested, as far as we can tell. And full-speed, too.
Though ... speaking of "wheels'' ... maybe he should slow down a tad.
We help our colleagues pile up some numbers:
From Tim MacMahon: In the last 12 games, Monta is averaging 17.3 points, shooting 41.9 percent, making just 20 percent of his threes ... and the Mavs are 6-6 during that span.
From Chuck Cooperstein: In the last 13 games, Monta is 5-of-31 from the arc, and until he made one in the third quarter Sunday, he'd missed 10 straight.
And now our turn, with stats ... and applications and theories and such:
There is absolutely a minutes load on Ellis. Carlisle smartly keeps a lid on the time registered by his elderly guys. ... and still, Dirk is second on the club in minutes at 32.9.
Ellis? He blows that away at 37 minutes per game. In this category, he is THE heavy-lifter here.
He's not only asked to be the Robin/Batman on a nightly basis -- which is a fine thing, no problem there -- but he's also the Robin/Batman of ballhandling. He starts alongside Calderon and oftentimes, whether Jose is on or off the floor, is also asked to initiate the offense.
Is all that responsibility and all that burn causing his intensity to wane? Not in a measurable way when it comes to shots attemped close-in. During this 12-game stretch, Ellis has seen a slight uptick in percentage of shots attempted outside of nine feet (52.1 percent compared to 51.1 percent). So that's not the problem.
Indeed, Ellis FG percentage inside of nine feet has actually gone up in the last 12 games, from 51.4 percent in the Mavs' first 22 games to 55.1 percent in the last 12.
So again, as much as someone might be quick to allege that Monta is being selfish, or is "too cool for school'' in his on-court behavior as it relates to aggression ... the numbers do not demonstrate that.
So what number can we find that illustrates a change? This one:
It's his percentages on the "range-finders'' that have fallen off dramatically.
We can boil it down very simply: On shots outside of 16 feet, Ellis in the Mavs first 22 games shot 41.6 percent.
On shots outside of 16 feet in the last 12 games, Ellis dips to 26.6 percent.
That's it. Carlisle likes to say we are merely "problem-identifiers'' while he is a "problem-solver,'' and we don't like to argue. Heck, we can't even begin to answer whether the "solve'' has to do with the burden placed on Ellis as a scorer, creator, distributor and minutes-eater.
But we can theorize. Heavy burden. Tired legs. Flat shot. An adjusted defensive focus from the opponents, to be sure. Some regression to the mean, we suppose as well, and ... a 41.6-percent "range'' shooter unravels into a 26.6-percent "range'' shooter.
Fewer minutes? Fewer responsibilities? A keen awareness of how the numbers have flipped ... and a proper reaction-to-action un-flip?
The Dallas Mavericks have some issues today. This one seems fixable ... and as important as any to get repaired.
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