Mavs Analysis: Start Aminu Over Monta?
Come at the king, you better not miss. The Warriors are the kings of the NBA right now. Sure the Hawks have done some impressive things but I don’t think anyone around the league fears the Hawks the way that most fear the Warriors. The Mavericks were beaten so soundly by Golden State back on December 13th that the wheels started spinning in the direction of the Rondo trade. At this current moment I doubt very seriously that Rajon Rondo is capable of opening one of his eyes so this is the spot the Mavericks were in.
To the credit of Rick Carlisle he knows his team infinitely better than we do and while we might have seen the opportunity to rest some of the key guys seeing as there’s a back-to-back looming against the Kings tonight he saw that his squad wanted to take a swing at the best. The Mavericks did enough to win this game but the shots that would be traditionally bad looks for any other player not named Steph Curry didn’t even make the net move. It’s hard to say the defensive was anything but garbage when a guy goes flamethrower for 51 points against you but honestly if the Mavs had brought that same intensity in a handful of other games they wouldn’t be on the outside of the homecourt equation.
It feels like five quarters of basketball were played last night so let’s not waste anymore time. To the crime scene of a 128-114 Mavericks loss in Oakland we go.
Last night’s first quarter was arguably the best quarter that the Mavericks have played on the season. When you consider the competition, the venue and the execution on both ends I think you’ll agree. We hadn’t seen that kind of offensive explosion from the Mavericks basically since Rondo was traded for. With the current incarnation of the Mavericks one would assume that they’d have to unreasonably hot from the three point line or Monta would have to score about 20 points for them to drop 42 points in a quarter. Neither of those happened. Instead, the Mavericks did it with ball movement (9 assists), aggressive play (22 points in the paint and 3 steals) and offensive rebounding (4 offensive boards). It was just locked-in basketball and coming out in a hostile environment throwing a haymaker. Everybody but Steph Curry looked like they had just been popped in the nose. The Mavs tied their previous season high scored in a quarter with 42 points on 17 of 26 shooting. The problem was that whole Warriors 43-point third quarter.
It sounds weird to say this but Steph Curry didn’t beat the Mavericks last night. What sunk the Mavericks was the combined 28 points form Marreese Speights and Leandro Barbosa. I’m not downplaying what he did in this game because that’s not even possible. It was one of the most insane things I’ve ever witnessed. It was paralyzing as a Mavericks fan. I’m not even mad.
It’s this numb amazement like you just realized guacamole and avocado are the same thing.
The Warriors offense is so good that there’s no counter move to stop Steph. Yeah I assume you could trap him but he’s not O.J. Mayo. He’s a very skilled passer and aware enough to split the double team earlier leaving a 4 on 3. So, at some point you actually talk yourself into letting him shoot with only one average defender (Parsons) guarding him as not such a bad idea. Oh and let’s not forget that the guy hanging out on the opposite wing waiting to drop 37 points in a single quarter.
At the end of the first quarter you could smell the heat radiating from Steph’s hands despite the fire extinguisher the Mavericks where using liberally on their end of the floor. Steph wrapped the first quarter with 11 points on 4 of 8 shooting and how were we to know he was going to go from blue steel to magnum during the halftime? Every good team in the NBA has a run in them no matter how many points they get behind. It’s just the nature of the game. It’s human to let of the gas and it’s human to squirm and claw whenever a boot is on your throat. The key for the leading team is to make the trailing team work for every bucket. It’s nearly impossible to do that when there’s a little wizard raining three pointers from parts that require two tanks of gas to reach.
Back to these other knuckleheads. What flipped the game in my estimation was Steve Kerr’s realization that he could roll out a lineup of Barbosa-Curry-Thompson-Green-Speights and not really pay for it all on the other end. While the Mavericks did a good job not helping off of Curry in his limited second-quarter minutes they also allowed Speights and Barbosa to score 13 points and had to leave the defensively-challenged Charlie Villanueva in for the majority of the quarter. The tide turned in the second quarter and we saw why Golden State is a legit championship contender ... their defense.
It also didn’t help that the Mavericks just stopped rebounding the basketball (got out-rebounded by ten) and Raymond Felton looked like a guy that deserved to play less than 70 minutes on the entire season.
The poor shooting in the second quarter doesn’t bother me because you’re not going to shoot 65% for the entire game but the little things started to land body blows. The Warriors bench outscored the Mavericks’ 15-3 in the second frame. That’s where the slack was made up. Then the tidal wave came and Steph scored 26 points on 8 of 11 shooting in the third as the Mavericks set a new season high for most points scored in a quarter with 43.
Yes, Steph Curry won the game for the Warriors but what got the Mavericks beat was Speights and Barbosa and the Warriors showing their teeth in the second quarter. The Mavs were prepared to take every single Steph jab to the face he was willing to throw but the 39 bench points from the Warriors was like the tiny wound that happened to hit an artery.
Once again, a really good Chandler Parsons game gets overshadowed by some basketball oddity. The weirdest stat that I just found in reference to this game is that Chandler Parsons was somehow a +5 in his time on the court in a game in which the Mavericks lost by 14. That doesn’t make any sense.
Parsons was nothing short of spectacular as he non-stop attacked the soft heart of the Warriors defense when they decided to go small. The casual fan (and there’s nothing more dangerous than the casual fan) will watch that game and blame Parsons for getting lit up while guarding Curry. Nobody was going to stop that avalanche. Nobody. I have a lot of respect for him just being willing to take on that defensive assignment.
If you get that kind of contribution out of Chandler Parsons on a nightly basis this team is going to be a gorilla that nobody wants to see in the playoffs. It’s been overshadowed because there are other things that are more fun to talk about (Rondo injury, Jermaine O’Neal, Monta slump, Aminu, Blatche??, etcetera) than giving a well-compensated guy credit for doing a fantastic job but this is why I started the Mavericks half of this recap off with him.
Parsons has been the Mavericks most important offensive player for some time now. The consistent 15+ points a night on 50%+ shooting is just something that rarely happens in this league. In the last ten games the Mavericks have played Chandler Parsons is 9th in the league in true shooting percentage at 65.6% (minimum 25 minutes per game). That’s an efficiency we could only dream of early in the season when his jumper was as likely to graze the bottom of the rim as it was to find the round circle thingy. If you don’t like my previous mountain of evidence then just realize that Parsons stats in his last 7 games played look like this 18.4ppg/2.7reb/2.1ast/1.3stl/58.6%fg/53.3%3fg.
Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. Let’s start talking about how good he’s been if that’s OK with the room.
It’s been imperative for Chandler Parsons be at his best because Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki have had some of their more forgettable games of late. In last night’s game in particular it was simply amazing that the Mavs were competing in the fourth quarter while getting next to nothing from Dirk and Monta in the second half. The duo combined for 3 of 19 after the break with one more turnover than assist.
This is the second consecutive game that Monta has reached for another gear late in the game that wasn’t there. Is it fatigue? Is it just a swoon?
Last night it was pretty easy to diagnose as the Warriors were determined to not let Monta beat them with his signature free-throw-line jumpers. The second he beat the initial defender the help defender would challenge as if he had no interest in attacking the basket and they were correct. They scouted him perfectly and it seemed like they had the ideology that teams used to use against the Jason Terry Mavericks: just don’t let Jet get his.
Now to that other guy and some numbers you don’t want to see. In the last 8 fourth quarters that Dirk Nowitzki has played he’s averaging 3.4 points on 33.3% shooting and 9.1% from three point range. Yeah this is bad. The steady hand hasn’t been steady and has actually been a liability late in the game.
I have a crazy idea. Cat lawyers. That ones just for free. Here’s the real idea:
What if Rick decided to start Al-Farouq Aminu and moved Monta Ellis to the bench?
The starting lineup would be as such (for the moment) Barea-Parsons-Aminu-Dirk-Chandler. You would have two 6’9” immediate mismatches in the backcourt for the first 5 minutes of every game and Aminu would know that he’s only getting a limited time in the first quarter so he would set the tone on the defensive end. Then at the 7-minute mark Monta subs in for Dirk and Aminu slides to the four and later at the four minute mark Devin Harris subs in for Barea and Jefferson for Aminu.
What an insane series of mismatches for the opposing team!
Monta would still play 33-35 minutes a game and close the game but he’d staggered with a bench group that can’t really create their own shots. It’s long been my estimation that Barea and Monta have too similar of games to function effectively on the court at the same time. Yes, their end results are typically different as Barea is pounding the rock to create a passing lane or an area to cut to as Monta is trying to get a feel for a pull-up jumper in most cases. Monta has only received 5 assists this entire season from Barea whereas Devin has dropped 18 dimes to him.
Monta has looked tired late in games and I think it would make a lot of sense to just shift some of his minutes to where they’re needed most so he’s not playing his 28th minute in the third quarter but in the fourth quarter and playing the entire fourth period. AFA is averaging 9.4points/6.8reb/2.6stl/1.8blk/51.6%fg/44.4%3fg over his last five games.
Rick, I know handing that big bite to a kid isn't usually your thing. But just think about it.
I wish there was some kind of medal or sticker I could give Tyson Chandler for his effort last night but thus all I have is these words. The Mavericks had very few reasons to still be in this game in the fourth quarter besides the effort of Tyson Chandler. I’m convinced that on the alley-oop he caught from Devin Harris late in the fourth he was actually trying to break the backboard. Everyone got testosterone drunk off that business. TC finished with 21 points and 17 rebounds and very low-key led the Mavericks in scoring in the fourth quarter. TY had 6 points and 4 boards in the fourth alone and it’s really not his fault that everybody besides Chandler Parsons left him high and dry late in the game.
I’d also like to give a hand clap to Devin Harris for his effort. I’m sure he wasn’t feeling 100% but he made some excellent effort plays and did a good job facilitating the basketball as he had 7 assists. He single-handedly hauled the Mavericks back into this contest in the third quarter with eight points. It worked last night but we’ll talk about those wild pull-up threes later.
If the Mavericks lose tonight at Sacto (Fish is on TV at 8:30!) because they looked flat and are sleepwalking through this game then you’ll know exactly why. Feel free to second-guess Rick not sitting some of the troops heading into this back-to-back but the result outweighs the process in this equation to me. The Mavericks needed to be reminded they could score 42 in a quarter and compete with the best team in basketball despite the league MVP going full-on rampage. Just be prepared for the blood that the Mavs left on the court last night to come up missing tonight.
Here’s the song, Dallas Mavericks fans …..
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