Mavs Fix: They'll Go As Far As Monta Allows
For all the good that Monta Ellis did Wednesday in OKC in feeling his way into a game with balance and perfect timing, he undid just as much Thursday in the loss to the visiting Rockets. (See our All-Access coverage of those games here.) The thing that drove us insane was his absolute persistence in continuing to launch threes despite the fact that he’s only made four of his last 30 attempts from beyond the arc. You can’t take three-plus threes a game and only hit 13.3 percent ... that’s as dumb as it gets and it's a piece of support for all the Monta Haters who believe that deep down, he's predisposed to being the Analytics-Ruining, Efficiency-Spoiling Monta of his Warriors days.
Saturday night provides an opportunity -- against his old Warriors club, visiting the AAC -- to demonstrate that MontaBall doesn't have to be selfishness, that being the "Alpha Dog'' for the Mavs can be a shared responsibility (see Parsons, Chandler), that BBIQ can still be part of what makes Ellis' contributions to the Mavs' playoff run something to hope for.
But at this moment? Working past that hip injury and now through the calf injury, trying to compromise with Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle on when he should play and how he should play, and ultimately letting the Mavs' money issues be addressed at an appropriate time? With all that on his plate, Monta isn't presently the gauge for what Dallas can do in the postseason.
He's the lid on what they can do. We can argue this team will go as far as Monta allows it to go. ... and that needs to change.
The Mavericks as a whole haven’t been good from deep lately, shooting just 30.3 percent from three over their last five games. So "shot-hunting'' and poor shot selection and maybe even lazy decision-making on perimeter bombs is a team-wide issue at the moment. But when Carlisle talks about Ellis as the Mav most likely to drive and create (which is why he continues to go to Monta in crunch time), he's hinting something ...
"Drive and create'' doesn't mean lead the team by firing up 3's.
The other thing that sticks out when looking over Monta’s numbers of the last 10 is the fact that he’s turning the ball over at basically the same clip he’s assisting (3.1 assist to 2.6 turnovers). Hey, 21 shots to score 19 points (as was his case in the loss to Houston) is not something the Mavericks can survive with on a night-to-night basis. If you’re going to take twice as many shots as anybody else on the roster you better generate a substantial amount of points -- and 19 is not an acceptable number.
Another number we hope is an oddity: The 5-of-9 from the free-throw line in the Houston game. This is a concern as well because Ellis' percentage has dipped to 72.9 percent from the charity stripe over his last 10 games. Remember all that "Monta Magic'' we saw earlier in the season? Well "Monta Magic'' means "clutch scoring'' and it’s basically disappeared. Since the All-Star Break, Monta has played 12 minutes of clutch basketball (less than five minutes left and within five points) and has gone 1-of-8 in those 12 minutes.
Previous to the All-Star Break, Monta was at 50-percent shooting in his 49 minutes of clutch basketball.
Monta essentially was 0-for-the-fourth-quarter against Houston, missing his first six attempts ... making the first of two free throws ... and then a garbage bucket with 20 seconds left to leave the frame with three points instead of a goose egg.
People often say (and we've been among them) that this team can go as far as Monta will take them ... as if that’s always a positive thing. Now? This team will go as far as Monta LETS THEM GO. There’s no reasonable excuse for Monta Ellis taking seven three-pointers in a basketball game at the moment. It just shouldn’t happen. He has to understand what spots he’s needed in and that there’s a reason he’s wide-open from three.
Being aware enough to have an accurate gauge on when you’re needed to press the offense is an advanced skill that we wish more coaches and systems emphasized. Despite the fact that there’s currently no good time for a Monta three, there are times during the game when the offense could use Monta attacking the basket for several possessions and it doesn’t have to wait until late into the fourth quarter.
This doesn't have to be all negative: Quite possibly the most important thing for the Mavericks heading into the playoffs is getting Monta Ellis back to being Monta Ellis ... and that is doable. This will not work without him and while we are concerned he’s too stubborn overall to just let the offense roll without him attempting to be the biggest part of it. ... the playoffs give him a chance to build his reputation (and his salary) to another level.
But be forewarned: In the NBA there’s nothing worse than a broken volume shooter. Monta Ellis shouldn’t be frustrated with Parsons making double what he does or being sat one game in January. Monta Ellis, right now, should be frustrated with his own game.
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