Mavs Fall To Indy: An Unacceptable Sinkhole

DALLAS - The starting lineup that the Pacers rolled out Monday (Sloan, Stuckey, Hill, Scola, Mahinmi) have a combined 1,924 minutes of playoff experience. Dirk Nowitzki has 5,544. Yet, what should've been a boring Mavs win on Monday became something very different.



THE BIG LEAD

This should have been a boring game. Instead it was the Donald Sloan game.

The starting lineup that the Indiana Pacers rolled out Monday (Sloan, Stuckey, Hill, Scola, Mahinmi) have a combined 1,924 minutes of playoff experience. Dirk Nowitzki has 5,544.

But still, these are grown men that get paid a hefty wage to compete athletically on a nightly basis. You must approach them as a threat and with an ample level of respect. The Mavericks tone from the opening tip was unacceptable. They looked like a team convinced that simply going through the motions would find them with a healthy margin of advantage heading into the fourth quarter. The problem is that defense requires intensity and the Mavericks offense doesn’t operate the way it’s built to when the Dallas Mavericks aren’t playing with at least an acceptable level of defense. Thus, offense requires defensive intensity. This was an “embarrassing loss,” to quote Chandler Parsons, and ride with me as we briefly examine the 111-100 vomit fest that was this evening.

THE SINKHOLE

The most concerning angle of this sinkhole of an exhibition has to be perimeter defense. It’s been an issue the entire year. Donald Sloan scoring 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting is a real problem but what I take away from his display is the fact that the Mavericks don’t have a counter-punch to stop a hot hand besides the idea that “he’ll cool off.”

In other words: There’s no Shawn Marion to sic on a perimeter player that’s cooking. We’ve seen it with Jeff Green, Rudy Gay, Bradley Beal and Luol Deng. There’s no rock to the scissors and no scissors to their paper. Tonight it just happened to be Donald Effing Sloan.



The second layer of that perimeter-defense cake is the lack of defending the three-point shot. The Pacers knocked down 13-of-26 threes and brought to the light a bigger issue of defending the three because if you’re going to let the replacement-level Pacers light you up, anybody can light you up. The Mavericks are currently second in the league in opponent three pointers made per game at 9.9 a contest and fifth in opponent three-point percentage allowed (38.6 percent). All of the other teams in that neighborhood aren’t playoff teams. All the scrambling is for nothing if the next swing pass equals an open look for an NBA level wing player. Frank Vogel isn’t dumb. He knows the Mavs don’t defend the three well and that the Pacers only real chance of hanging with this team is getting good looks from three and they’re not that hard to get.

LINGERING HEADACHES

Other parts of this game that will keep me up late at night include the free-throw problem and the expectation that the opposing team will just crumble when you climb within an possession or two. Consider .... 57.1 percent.

No, that’s not the Mavericks field-goal percentage for the night. That was their free-throw percentage. What the hell is going on?

They weren’t good at the line against Houston and here it can be argued that the charity-stripe problems kept them from actually making a run at the lead seeing as they missed nine of the 21 taken.

The flipside of that card is that the Pacers shot 15 more free throws than the Mavericks (36 to 21). Are they a more talented dribble-attack team? Are they more skilled offensively? Obviously, the answer is no. So, why are they leading the league’s best offense in the ultimate measure of aggression?

The Mavericks are allowing the seventh most free throws per game over their last three. Keep an eye on this.

The second part of that idea is that it seemed like the Mavericks thought the Pacers would just crumble when they got within one point of them (67-66) and then again when they capped a 7-0 and closed it to 98-93. The Pacers, didn’t as you can tell from the score. The sustained defensive intensity wasn’t there and the willingness to clamp down to close the lead and then eclipse the competition never appeared.

Smile

THE FINAL WORD

This is a simply incredible loss. There’s no excuse.

"It’s another reminder,'' Dirk said of his 10-5 Mavs, "that we’re not good enough to coast against anybody.”

Sure, sure. But why does anybody need ANOTHER reminder?

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