Mavs Nation: Your Re-Intro To 'Playoff Dirk'

DALLAS - A run during which he averaged 19.8 points and 5.6 boards on 53.3 percent from the field in only 30 minutes of play. ... A run with a 120.2 offensive rating ... A new wrinkle in which he doesn't bother flooring the ball. ... The 82 games are behind us. Ahead of us? The Round-1 Rockets. And quite possibly, The Re-Introduction of 'Playoff Dirk':



The Re-Introduction of 'Playoff Dirk'

We don’t really believe in a team "ramping up'' as a whole because there are too many factors to determine direct causation late in the season. There is some luck to the idea that, all at the same time, TY, Rondo and Monta would all "ramp up'' while at the same time Parsons and Devin would be healthy enough to do the same ... And yet we know that for the Mavs to really have post-season success, some version of that will have to happen.

Who is healthy enough, experienced enough, hot enough, though, to show signs of the ramp-up?

Smile

We do believe in individual players rounding into the playoff versions of themselves. ... and we do believe in The UberMan.

The thing that gets overlooked when we start chopping up matchups and which lineups can run against whom and how will the Mavericks hedge against their rebounding deficiencies in Round 1 against Houston (Game 1 is Satursday at 8:30 down the highway) is that the Mavs have one of the greatest offensive playoff weapons in the history of basketball on their roster, Dirk Werner Nowitzki.

We’re talking about a human being who averages 25.6 points, 10.1 boards and 2.5 assists while shooting 46 percent from the field in his 135 playoff games. Even as miserable as last season’s playoffs felt for him, if he hits his threes (2-of-18 in his last two playoff series) with the same regularity he always has in the playoffs he’s right back there sniffing around his elite playoff numbers. (And maybe the Spurs get beat.) This is a man that carries a 117 career offensive rating in the playoffs.

So, will we get a glimpse of our old friend "Playoff Dirk''?

According to the last five games going into Wednesday's regular-season finale against Portland (in which he scored 16 in 27 minutes; see our gamer here), he’d already arrived. In those five contests he was averaging 19.8 points and 5.6 boards on 53.3 percent from the field in only 30 minutes of play. Most importantly, he’s boasted a 120.2 offensive rating in his last six games. Let’s pretend that Dirk was playing his customary amount of 36+ minutes as he does in the playoffs. ... and these numbers will get you excited.

When you extrapolate Dirk’s output in those five games to a 36-minute portion they read 23.5 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists. We’d definitely take that every single playoff game from Dirty. ... even though we've already made the point that we're not sure we can expect it, but must demand 15 shots to have a shot at it.

Meanwhile, Dirk has made a very subtle change since last season that we’ve just now noticed. After getting blitzed from the baseline repeatedly and his post-up dribble turning into a fast-break the other way during that Spurs series, he’s basically stopped dribbling the basketball. He’s had a 5 percent increase in shots taken without dribbling the basketball this season as compared to last season. That might not sound like a big deal but just follow along ...

He’s afraid of giving the secondary defender a chance to disrupt his move to the basket by impeding his dribble. So, he’s basically stopped that part of the equation. Last year he had 484 field-goal attempts that came after at least one bounce off the parquet. This year that number is down to 351. This wouldn’t be any kind of an issue if he were shooting the same incredible 49 percent he shot last season while creating a look minus the dribble, but he’s only shooting 45 percent on said shots this season. This year it’s his most frequent shot taken (42.4 percent of all shots) while also being his least effective (45.3-percent shooting).

Smile

We're honestly not quite sure what the Dallas Mavericks answer is here, except maybe to hope that it's a work in progress. In a Spurs matchup they would've dared him to floor the ball as they did last year. We doubt the Rockets have the same theory, the first-round foe. We also don’t know if he’ll receive double-teams, either.

Dirk's thoughts? "They like to go small, they're extremely quick. They got a lineup out there with Ariza and Smith with a lot of length on the wing, [they] switch a lot. Harden's been incredible all year long, making big plays, making the other guys better, driving, getting to the line, getting the other guys the ball, making big shots. ... They're a really good team and we've got our hands full."

But Dirk Nowitzki is constantly in solve-it mode. This is a good thing. He's also in the midst of ramp-up mode. This is a "Playoff Dirk'' thing.

A few brief Mavericks nuggets

Wondering How Ready is Rondo? An advanced-stat breakdown here ... Is Monta the gauge of what Dallas can do in the postseason? Or, given his moodiness, is Monta the lid on what the Mavs can do? ... Parsons did some intense pregame work on Wednesday and those involved remain hopeful he'll be ready to go in Game 1 against his old team ... We'll be inside the AAC for the next couple of days keeping you posted so keep in on DB.com for all the latest!



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