Mavs Trending: The Back-To-Back Blowouts
The Dallas Mavericks have, in their last two games, outscored their opponents 254-187.
Impressive enough. Also worth noting: Those numbers account for a fair amount of garbage time for both teams. How did the Mavericks’ core rotational players fare against Philadelphia and Minnesota? If we just factor in the first halves of those two games, the Mavericks outscored their opponents 138-73.
There are plenty of statistics out there to confirm the Mavericks dominance in the back end of their four-game home stand, but here’s one you might not have seen yet. In the eight quarters in which Dallas scored 254 points, Dirk Nowitzki only missed four shots.
“It was exactly what we wanted to do at the end of this homestand,” Nowitzki said. “We started off rough with the loss against Miami, but we took care of our business after that and protected the home court.''
He is the Efficiency King, and when the fellas on this roster compete at a level that matches The Uberman's, the Mavs have every reason they can score with anybody, play with anybody.
Saturday’s 131-117 victory over Minnesota (here's the DB.com Boards GameThread) wasn’t nearly as humiliating as Thursday’s bludgeoning of Philadelphia, but make no mistake, Dallas was in control from the opening tip and dominated the entire game.
The Mavericks shot 50 percent from the field compared to just 30 percent for the Wolves. Eight different Mavericks scored in double figures, led by 30 points from Monta Ellis -- Dallas' first 30-point effort of the year.
How much fun is it, Monta, to win with such balance?
"It’s just fun winning,'' Ellis said. "Period."
Most impressively, the Mavericks had 76 points in the paint (tying a franchise-best), relentlessly attacking the rim. By comparison, the Wolves had just 38 points in the paint.
“They don’t have a lot of rim protection out there, and we were driving it hard,'' coach Rick Carlisle said after the Minny game. "The thing we kept doing well was attacking them; we were able to outscore them.''
This is a sign of Dallas, at 7-3, understanding the value of putting in the work to produce what, in the end, gets to be called "easy baskets.'' Fish said the other day that Chandler Parsons, in particular, needs to focus less on being "the future face of the franchise'' and more on using his unusual (on this roster) skill set to get to the rim.
And you know, if Parsons works for good shots the way the present "face of the franchise'' does, he'll eventually win that honor. And the hearts of MFFLs.
That's Monta Ellis.
Ellis, who has had a bit of bad luck with foul trouble and tough shooting nights early in the season, played at an All-Star level during the two-game stretch. Against the Sixers on Tuesday, Ellis scored 17 points off of 7-of-12 shooting to go along with four rebounds, four assists and three steals. Against Minnesota he scored 30 points off of 11-21 shooting and recorded three assists.
Ellis was relentless in both games, mercilessly attacking both teams while they were down. (Like "stealing from a beggar,'' as we wrote following the Sixers game.) This is by far the best roster that Ellis has ever played on and the offensive system is designed so that opposing defenses are unable to give him the attention his skill set should demand. Those numbers are not anomalies that come with playing bad teams; Ellis can fill up the stat sheet like this on a regular basis. (Does he get your vote for "The Dirkie'' for Saturday's work? The selection process plays out here!)
The NBA's official highlight reel is Monta-centric:
Oh, and our expectations will remain high; we don’t expect performances like these to stop against higher competition. Even in a Western Conference packed with talented guards, the opportunity for Ellis to be an All-Star this season is certainly realistic.
We suggested Monta-as-All-Star here in the preseason. We've seen nothing to dissuade us.
Blowing out bad teams is a good sign, but in this particular case it would be unwise to consider these victories fully accurate barometers for future success.
The Sixers had little interest in competing with the Mavericks. Despite putting up a much better fight against the Rockets the next night, this Philadelphia team will likely be in the running for worst team in the history of the NBA.
Minnesota cannot be fairly accused of tanking (kudos to them for that), but they were without arguably their two best players due to injuries (Thaddeus Young and Ricky Rubio) and the Mavericks caught the young team at the tail end of a long road trip that included a journey to Mexico.
These two games were very good test cases for what the Mavericks want to accomplish on the court this season and they are relative proof that they are capable of accomplishing those things, but it will rarely be as easy to achieve this level of success in the future.
An example is the ease at which Dallas scored in the paint on Minnesota. Scoring 76 points in the paint is always impressive (and lifts the Mavs to No. 2 in the NBA in that department), but typically a large percentage of those points will come in the fast break. Dallas only scored 11 fast-break points Saturday night. That means they scored 65 points in the paint in their half-court offense with five Wolves (including big Pek) supposedly playing defense. That’s an incredible number and it showcases how atrocious the Minnesota defense was. ... or was made to look.
But again, don’t forget, a little over a week ago the Mavericks were handily beat in back-to-back games by the Heat and Blazers.
These games certainly validate what we hoped was true: the Mavericks offense is capable of scoring with any team in this league.
It won't be this easy, but the Mavericks can score in so many different ways and can do so at such an efficient level. From Nowitzki to Ellis to Parsons to the “role players” the Mavericks’ offense attacks opposing defenses at a rate like no other team thus far and are surprisingly playing like they have years of experience together.
The opposing defenses will improve, but Philadelphia and Minnesota are not giving up 123 and 131 points per game, respectively, so the Mavericks’ performance is still noteworthy.
Each core player for the Mavericks brings an aspect to the offense that opens things up for other players. A clear example of this is the lob threats of Tyson Chandler and Brandan Wright. Those two players combined were 18-of-25 from the field in the two-game stretch.
Perimeter defense is still an issue and believe it or not, if we look closely, there was evidence of this during both blowouts.
Thankfully, TY’s mop-up presence on the defensive end has been as advertised and he has made a huge impact on the interior defense.
The problem has been that the Mavericks guards are still leaving shooters open. This was not an issue against Philadelphia; oh, Dallas was actually giving the Sixers plenty of open looks, they were just apparently incapable of knocking them down.
The biggest culprits in this department, we think, have been Monta Ellis and Devin Harris. That’s not to take away from what they are doing on the offensive end — which has been terrific — but it is an issue. They have a bad habit of ball-watching and letting their men slip away and take barely contested threes. That won’t get the job done against NBA shooters.
Kevin Martin scored 34 points against the Mavericks on Saturday. It would be easy to call it nit-picking and say Martin is a terrific shooter and somebody had to score the Minny points. But Martin didn’t just shoot 12-of-17 because he’s a very good player. It was because he was largely open for most of those shots.
It would be fair to say that Ellis exerts so much energy on the offensive end that defensive breakdowns come with the territory. That is justifiable in a sense, but it doesn’t change the fact that it needs to be addressed. The Mavericks are a top team based on their offense alone, but they can’t compete at a championship level without greatly improving their defense. It’s a realistic fix, but it’s still a work in progress.
"We just need to take it game-by-game, day-by-day,'' Monta said of the Dallas D. "It’s the beginning of the season, we have a lot of time to get going and be one on defense. We’re still learning each other, but a lot of guys out there have each other’s back and we’re scrambling a lot. That’s the biggest thing.''
Just as a two-game streak like this is a heck of a streak ... that needs to be built upon.
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