Mavs at Wiz All-Access: It's Good To Be King
Finally, a challenge.
It had been nearly a fortnight (that’s 15 days, kids) since the Dallas Mavericks played a team that could actually put the fear of God in them. While the Wizards aren’t a legit title contender, they’re definitely a top-12ish team in this league that has all the peripheral statistics of a solid playoff team and that’s considering they’ve played their first nine games without their best scorer (Beal). They have the type of roster that can give the Mavericks and a lot of teams in this league fits: two powerful post players, a guard that can break down any defender and a veteran scorer with elite shotmaking ability. What worried me the most was the lack of Devin Harris and the fact that Jameer Nelson was going to have to guard John Wall for long stretches at a time. We’ll feed Jameer his recommended dosage of soap a little bit later but what impressed me was the play of the other two guards that handled the ball for the majority of the game in what became Dallas 105, Washington 102.
After the Mavs went 1-of-6 while scoring two points in the first four minutes, Monta Ellis realized it was on him to take over. Monta towed the Mavs back into the competitive realm, scoring 18 of their first-quarter 23 points on 6-of-7 shooting while the entire rest of the team went 1-for-12.
Monta’s mutant ability to knock down pull up jumper after pull up jumper kept the Mavs within 6 after the first quarter when it really felt like it could have been well into a double digit lead for the Wizards. Who cares if he didn’t call glass on the jumper to end the first quarter? He’s from planet Have It All and he’s the most Nesquik offense player I’ve ever seen. He finished with 34 points (his sixth 30-point game as a Mav) and a season-high 14 free throws, more than doubling his previous season high of six.
“Monta kept us going in the first quarter,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “I mean, he had 18 points and we had three other guys to score. And he just carried us on his back.
As superhuman as Monta was for the first three quarters, JJ Barea was that and then some in the fourth.
Until the last two games there really hadn’t been a reason to play JJ Barea over Jameer Nelson except for the fact that he was a different option. Tonight was a new case. Little man went full "Rambo: First Blood'' in the fourth quarter, knocking down 4-of-6 for 10 points and setting Brandan Wright up for some alley-oops that should have garnered an NC-17 rating.
It really feels like after that Philadelphia game, when he got to play a mountain of minutes, JJB seems infinitely more comfortable in what his next step is on the attack. The Steve Nash trick of looping-dribble-into-easy-fadeaway has treated him well in the last three games and it appears his ball movement has been patient enough to wait for an open look.
Barea played so well in the fourth that Jameer Nelson didn’t need to come off the bench (which is where he should stay for all fourth quarters).
The worst thing that happened to Jameer Nelson in this game was him flooring the basketball and blowing by an unsuspecting John Wall to the cup early in the first. He tried it at least three more times and every time the secondary defender walled him off with no countermove prepped in his pocket.
I gave Jameer a night off against Charlotte. Not this time. At this point in the season I’m stunned that the Mavs offense is operating at such a high clip despite getting next to nothing tangible from the starting point guard on a nightly basis. Jameer was 51st out of 66 point guards in player efficiency rating coming into the night and that’s going to drop significantly after this five-points-on-2-of-12-shooting-with-four-turnover performance.
Again I’ll restate my position, I don’t know what he’s doing well on the basketball court.
I feel bad for putting it this way but when Felton returns in three games, I don’t know what role Jameer has on this team. I’d release him faster than you could say Michael Olowokandi for Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Jermaine O’Neal, Emeka Okafor, some white cheddar popcorn, a USB charger, a paperback version of "Landing On My Feet: The Kerri Strug Autobiography'' or a monster truck DVD. The breaking point was his pull-up three with 18 seconds left on the clock in the second quarter. Flatly, we were promised better. It’s been 12 games and he’s had one decent outing.
There’s only a handful of teams in this league that can frustrate Tyson Chandler the way that Washington did. They have two bigs that are as strong as him with impressive activity. Even with Nene and Gortat giving him fits, TY still finished 16 boards and three blocks.
The ability to effect possessions without scoring is a hidden trick that most players never obtain but there’s really no way to calculate a number of offensive opportunities he kept alive or the shots he altered with his presence.
For all the good things that John Wall brings to the game (mainly his dancing), he brings along a carry-on-bag of other bad habits. He can murder like a samurai on the fast break but he’ll also miss about four layups a game because he simply runs at the basket too fast. He’ll create all kinds of turnovers by extending his perimeter defense out to half-court but he’ll also take a long 3 to tie with 18 seconds left on the shot clock. I’d take John Wall on any team that has ever existed but the Wizards are never going to reach their full potential until he embraces the idea that every possession is valuable.
Meanwhile, his running mate Bradley Beal is a top-five shooting guard in the NBA. I’m not going to look up any stats on that. I just want to say it and you know it and move on.
And it looks like this:
Question: why is Andre Miller?
I think Washington would win three to five more games every season if they simply had a replacement level power forward (say a Terrence Jones type) on the court rather than Nene. My reasoning: not only does he take terrible jump shots that nobody with those biceps should attempt but he also just pisses people off.
In the third, the Mavericks were just plugging away trying to stack enough points to fade Bradley Beal's hot shooting and then Nene elbows Dirk Nowitzki and follows that up with a family-sized portion of female-dog activities. He makes the opposing team want to beat their ass when otherwise nobody would really care about the Wizards. He’s just a name at this point and when they had Trevor Ariza (who we’ll see Saturday night when the hated Rockets roll in), the hidden weak link on the Wizards was Nene. Now he’s just another item on the list of things that they must overcome if they hope to be a top-four team in the East.
I’d challenge Nene to a fight if his arms didn’t look like they came off of a Mr. T action figure.
Dirk goes down. Blown-out ankle!
Dirk goes to the locker room. B-Wright plays some 4. Dirk trots back from the locker room. Goes back on the floor. Hits a 3. Wins the game.
Then limps back to the locker room.
“I stepped on (Kris) Humphries’ foot and just rolled it a little bit, like I’ve done a million times in my career,'' Dirk said later. "I decided to walk it off, come back here (to the locker room), re-tape it and came right back out.''
Candidates abound. You vote. Who deserves 'The Dirkie'?, right here. Don't vote for Jameer.
I’ll leave you with some fun stats. Brandan Wright is on pace to break Wilt Chamberlain’s single season FG-percentage record of .727 for a season. Wright is shooting .761 thus far and has only missed 16 of his 67 shots. He does it like so:
Meanwhile, even when you factor in tonight’s three-point victory over a solid Washington team that limited the best offense in the league to 105 points, the 9-3 Mavericks are still averaging 114.4 points per game with an average victory of 21 points over their last five contests.
It’s good to be king.
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