Tuesday Mavs Donuts: Kinks And Mindsets

One straight loss. Four straight losses, 10 straight losses. Dirk says it doesn't matter if a losing streak against a certain foe goes on forever. 'You can lose 20 times to a team,' he says. 'But you have to go in there with a fresh mindset.' Approaching Game 2 in San Antonio, the Mavs work out the kinks in their minds and in their gameplan as we detail in Tuesday Morning Mavs Donuts ...

DONUT 1: Dishing on Devin …

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle wishes to be so coy with his starting lineups that he probably won't promise that Dirk is starting in Game 2. So he darn sure isn't going to reveal his plans for Jose Calderon and Devin Harris as it regards the starting point guard job.
But as Dallas spent Monday regrouping from Sunday's 90-85 Game 1 loss at the Spurs, there really seems little mystery what the club will do at the starting point guard position despite Calderon's struggles in that role and Harris' success behind him.

"We're rolling the way we're set up," Dirk said. "Jose has been our starter the whole year. We've got to start the game off a little better. I think we were a little slow and we were down eight or 10 pretty quick there in the first quarter, so we've got to be a little better there, but Jose is our starter. He's the guy that puts us in our plays and we're rolling with it."

The Mavs have a system, a rotation, that won them 49 games. It includes Calderon starting -- but scoring better that he did in Game 1 with his seven points on 3-of-9 shooting. minutes. It also often includes Jose getting almost twice the 16 minutes he earned in the loss ...

And that's where Devin comes in.

Harris led the Mavs back from an early deficit with 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting, plus five assists.

And the 32-minute game? That was given to Harris.

The smart bet? Calderon continues to start, continues to set up the first wave of offense, continues to get perimeter screens set for him (because he can't shake Tony Parker by himself) and continues to not be asked to guard Parker on the other end.

And then ... Harris enters the game as part of Dallas' explosive second group and maybe ends up staying on the floor with the first group.


"We're going to approach it the way we approach it, doing it the way we feel is best," Carlisle said. "If we get to the point where I feel major lineup changes are in order, we'll do it, but I'm not going to talk about it two days before the game."

The Mavs don't believe "major lineup changes'' are in order. But they do believe major minute changes at point guard are.

DONUT 2: Reviewing Game 1 …

There was a Game 1 blueprint for Dallas. "Execute This'' = "This Result.'' That was part of Carlisle's simple message and in some ways, over the course of the loss, it worked.

The use of Devin is just part of the story. We review the gameplan going in and the results here, Dr. Phil-style.

"So how's that workin' for ya?''

Almost -- but not quite -- well enough.

DONUT 3: Calderon's concern …

It's not just that Jose played poorly or shot poorly in the opening minutes of Game 1; it's the inability of him to match up favorably and the trickle-down impact of that inability.

When Parker is on the floor against Dallas' usual starting five, there is sense to make certain Jose isn't the man guarding him. So Marion might move over to cover Parker - in the hope of "cutting the head off the snake." Meanwhile, as was established over the course of the regular season, Parker on Jose renders Calderon highly inefficient as a shooter – at 22 percent.

Part if the Mavs' practice work on Monday focused on screen-setting designed to free Jose to be more impactful on the offensive end. Because if Dallas doesn't get production out of it it's offensive quarterback, Dallas won't win Game 2, either.

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DONUT 5: Monta's counseling session …


Monta Ellis closed Monday's workout with a playful wrestling match with Jae Crowder. But this was only after a lengthy period that I would best characterized as a "counseling session" involving Ellis and assistant coach Darrell Armstrong. There was a ball and there was a rim but this wasn't a shooting practice for Ellis as he remained on the floor long after teammates.

In trying to bounce back from his Game 1 performance (4-of-14 for 11 points), Monta is doing more than physical fixing; it's psychological fixing, too, as

That Premium look inside Mavs practice is here.

DONUT 6: Gym coaches …

TNT's Craig Sager is battling leukemia and was replaced on the Sunday sideline by his son, Craig Jr.

What Pop does here in transforming himself from his usual ogre-like approach to the media is not unlike what Carlisle does in Dallas. They are, in essence, middle-school gym coaches -- and I mean that in a good way -- who are in charge of billion-dollar gyms.

Metaphorically, they don't want you wearing your black-soled shoes on their gym floor. So they bark and bite and snipe and belittle ...

Many think Carlisle takes the act too far. But I believe he, like Pop, is psychologist enough to enjoy the humans-as-lab-rats experimentation, is gym-coach enough to want to assert control of his barn, and is down-deep a nice enough fella with a bark far worse than his bite.

DONUT 7: Coach of the Year …

Popovich has been mamed 2013-14 NBA Coach of the Year (joining Don Nelson and Pat Riley as the only three-time winners of the award.

For what it's worth, as you can see here,. Rick Carlisle did not receive any votes (1st, 2nd, or 3rd) for COY.

DONUT 8: Alamo Milestones …

Looks like an eventful early postseason for the Spurs, no matter the outcome of the series. Tim Duncan's 38th birthday is Friday. Manu Ginobili's wife gave birth to their third child a few hours after Sunday's game. And Tony Parker's fiancé is due to give birth at some point in the next couple of weeks.

No. Not Eva Longoria. Some other gal. Tony Parker moves quickly.

DONUT 9: Doubling Duncan? …

The Mavs came away from Game 1 being given credit for the strategy that had them running San Antonio off of the arc and defending the Spurs there to the tune of 3-of-17 shooting from three-point range. Unfortunately, the strategy is part of the reason Duncan got his 27 -- a pick-your-poison sort of choice.

But check out this over-the-shoulder heave and-1 and take notes:

One, Monta does drop down to help. It's not a true double-team but it's evidence of a way to both guard the arc and harass the big man following an entry pass. And two, the defense is good and the foul is good and Duncan is being asked to do way too much here ...

And the ridiculous shot goes down, anyway.

I'm not meaning to chalk up big-game results to happenstance, and I recognize that Duncan has made a skillion of these shots over the course of his brilliant career. But after a day that saw Dirk missed a layup and Monta miss a bunny ... While this zany shot goes in ... is it too much to ask that Dallas get a fortunate balance as a reward for sound strategy?

DONUT 10: Know your schedule …

The schedule for the rest of the first-round playoff series between the Mavs and Spurs:

*G2 - Wednesday April 23 Dallas at SA 7pm NBA TV
*G3 - Saturday April 26 SA at Dallas 3:30pm TNT
*G4 - Monday April 28 SA at Dallas 8:30pm TNT
*G5 (if) Wednesday April 30 Dallas at SA TBD
*G6 (if) Friday May 2 SA at Dallas TBD
*G7 (if) Sunday May 4 Dallas at SA TBD

DONUT 11: Stat O' The Day ...
Counting the regular season and the 90-85 win on Sunday, San Antonio is 11-1 in games decided by five points or fewer. This single stat, more than anything else, may be what separates Dallas' goodness from San Antonio's greatness.

DONUT 12: The Final Word …

"You can lose 20 times to a team. But if you don't believe you can beat a team, you should stay home. You just go in with a fresh mindset." -- Dirk.

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