Preview & Chat: The Dallas Mavericks

Kurt —  November 28, 2008

Basketball: Laenderspiel 2004, USA-GER
Records: Lakers 12-1 Mavericks 7-7
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.4 (3rd in league) Mavericks 104.7 (18th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 96.5 (1st in league) Mavericks 103.0 (8th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Mavericks Jason Kidd, Antoine Wright, Josh Howard, Dirk Nowitzski, Erick Dampier

Andrew Bynum’s foot: Swelling and inflammation in your foot are not your friends if you are a professional basketball player.

But really, beyond that, we don’t know jack. Details should be forthcoming tonight (check the comments, maybe an update in this space). And without a few details, we are just throwing darts at carnival balloons trying to figure out how bad it is. It really depends on the size of the spur and where it is located.

And before anyone freaks out, here is the worst case scenario: The Lakers have to go with the starting lineup that got them to the NBA Finals last year for a month or so. Not exactly the end of the world. This is why it is good to be a deep team.

Lakers notes: One more note on just how hot the Lakers have been so far this season:
(my personal favorite stats site) has developed something called the “Simple Rating System” to figure out how good teams are. (And, this system over time has proved the axiom that simple is better.) Basically, you figure out how much teams are winning their games by (point differential) and adjust that for strength of schedule.

So far, the Lakers SRS score is 14. Second place in the NBA right now is Cleveland at 9.64. It gets better:

Just for comparison’s sake, last year’s Celtics, who steamrolled the league en route to 66 wins and an NBA title, had an SRS of “only” 9.31. In fact, the best full-season SRS mark ever belongs to the 1970-71 Milwaukee Bucks, who also rolled up 66 wins and an NBA crown, thanks to the efforts of Oscar Robertson and league MVP Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Their SRS score that year? 11.91, more than two points per game worse than L.A.’s current clip.

It’s a long season, but we need to recognize just what a historically good start the Lakers are off to.

Last Meeting It was one of the games from this season where the Lakers played 30 minutes of basketball and still won.

In the first quarter of that game the Mavs shot 61.9% (eFG%). But in the third quarter the Lakers defense picked up, starting with Gasol who overplayed Dirk’s left side and took him out of the game. For the third quarter, the Lakers held the Mavs to 35% shooting. In the fourth quarter, Dallas shot 30% and 25% from three.

It was also another big night for the bench — Trevor Ariza led the charge and the team for the night as a +16, with Odom and Sasha close behind at +13. And don’t forge the key play late, Ariza blocking a Stackhouse three-point shot.

The Mavericks Coming In: Now that we’ve covered that last game, throw all that knowledge out the window. This Dallas team is playing much better than that team and is on a five-game winning streak.

The reason is in part that key Mavs players are stepping up. During the streak Nowitzki has been shooting 46% (up from 40% the previous five), 50% from three point range and is scoring 28 points per game. Laker killer Jason Terry has thrived in the Lamar Odom sixth man role. He is shooting 53.6% and is scoring 23 points per game in the last five games

One other change, Dallas will have Josh Howard in the starting lineup, he didn’t play in the first meeting.

Finally, Jason Kidd has had a bounce-back year so far. He has a True Shooting Percentage of 58.7% (up from 49.9% last year), he’s creating more steals and his PER is up to 18 from 16.7 last year.

Keys To The Game: I just have a gut feeling Bynum will not suit up tonight. Basically, this is a November game and if you can rest a guy you do that now, there are still 69 games until the playoffs even start.

Pau Gasol did a good job covering Nowitzki in the second half of the Lakers win earlier this month, but if Bynum is out Gasol will have to slide over to the center spot to cover Erick Dampier (well, as much as one really has to cover him). Gasol just needs to keep Dampier off the boards — Dallas had 20 offensive boards last meeting. Lamar Odom likely would get the Nowitzki assignment, and he’s held Dirk down fairly well in the past (nobody really stops Dirk, the goal is making him less efficient).

If Bynum is not patrolling the paint, the rest of the Lakers need to be sharper with their rotations and in traps and zones. On the wings, it would be nice to keep Kidd from picking up another triple-double (he has just one this season and it was against LA).

On defense, the Mavs throw a lot of different looks at you, including a lot more 2-3 zone lately. Gasol should be able get hurt the soft middle of the zone, while Radman and Sasha shoot over the top of it. Fisher is allowed to take a shot only on a catch-and-shoot or at the rim, no jumpers off the dribble (half court or transition).

Where you can watch: Fox Sports locally, nationally it is ESPN with Mike , Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy in the booth.



78 responses to Preview & Chat: The Dallas Mavericks

  1. I think if Bynum sits tonight then we should consider giving Mbenga a start against Dampier. I think DJ is a better match up, (and don’t forget he was a Mav, so he played for years against Dampier). This keeps Pau in his preferred position, and keeps LO coming in with the bench mob, along with Trevor and Farmar, so it’s lookout!…yehaaa, andeliee, andeliee andelieee!!!
    off to the races with the ssecond unit.

    also, as I said in yesterday’s comments, let’s look to see how Powell can rise to the occasion, I think he’s ready to shine. The 5 should be Mbenga, with powell backing him up.

  2. Mbenga? What about Mihm?

  3. look at the frame of Dampier, then compare that to Mbenga and Mihm, I just think that Dampier is a big body bruiser, not a finese player, so I think DJ would be a better match up.

  4. CORRECTION: If the Lakers are without Bynum, then they do NOT have the same team as what got them to the Finals last year.

    If the Lakers have to face the worst case scenario then they will have last year’s team plus Ariza and Mihm (who is a useful third-string center).

  5. A little tardy, but on the subject of PUJIT, here’s video that hopefully allays some of the worries… Fish made his, counted 13 makes in total. So while it’s not the best shot at times, at least they practice it? I’ve always thought it was a tempo thing early in games anyway, as well as to keep opposing guards honest. Not too worried about Fish taking ’em at later stages in games or the season.

  6. What is this talk about starting Mbenga or Mihm?

  7. Seems like Drew is fine and will play.
    It’s on the Lakers website

  8. link anyone? at my fams for thanksgiving and they are reluctant to relinquish control of the tv!

    I will try this one later on.

    or this one after the Suns game it will be on

  11. much appreciated! its probably good that i watch the game.. considering detroit was the only one ive missed so far!

  12. I guess Bynum is playing, so this is a moot point, but I would definitely start Odom over Mihm or Mbenga. I think that is an easy decision to make.

  13. Lucky you..
    i am having hard times watching on this side of the water..

  14. Mihm has sprained his ankle ..will not play

  15. Is Howard playing tonight? So far they’ve had Green, Wright and George at the swing positions.

  16. Howard is injured, I believe he’s missed the last few games for them.

  17. How often does something bad happen when the play runs through Gasol? 1 in every 100 possessions? 1000?

    It’s mind-boggling to me how long we can go without feeding Gasol in the post. His offensive game is perfect for this offense, he makes things so much easier for everyone else. Pass him the ball, people, please.

    (Tonight our offense is clicking, I’m talking about in general)

  18. The Laker defense in this game is deplorable, especially on the perimeter. JJ Barea is looking like Chris Paul out there.

  19. I love Fisher but he has to be one of the worst drive to the basket finishers in the NBA.

  20. That may be so, but he is carrying the team offensively at the moment…

  21. Good thing he can more than make up for it when his jumper is on!! 9 straight points..

  22. Where would we be without Bynum tonight?

  23. The perimeter defense started out looking pathetic, but the team adjusted so now the interior defense looks pathetic also.

    Whither Kobe’s Jump Shot?

  24. kobe still has zero accuracy…just like his last few games. he needs to know when to stop forcing jumpshots….and pass

  25. Can anybody stop JJ Paul?

  26. We really need to start taking care of the ball, and it starts with not relying on the ref to make a call.

  27. I hate how we’re playing. I’m just thankful for Trevor Freakin’ Ariza.

  28. this is horrible. im about to turn it off.

  29. and as i say that they go on a 7-0 run..

  30. I hope you didn’t turn it off…

  31. Good work getting the defensive stops.

  32. Ha, Jeff Van Gundy taking Fisher to task on his PUJITs.

  33. Gasol slammed that so hard that the lights went out.

  34. Make that 13-0. Ha. Maybe they will decide to play defense in the 4th and actually pull this one out.

  35. Sorry for the double post but…I think i can hear the Laker fans at Staples from my house (Houston, TX)

  36. Hey just wondering, who’s watching this on ESPN and who’s watching it on FSW?

  37. It’s these type of games that give me indigestion.

  38. The defense was ratcheted up a couple notches in that run (finally). Fisher’s shot selection is as awful as ever but he has made some big ones tonight.

  39. JVG is spot on. We won’t win the championship picking and choosing when to play D. Good thing it is still early in the season and we can work on that.

  40. Ariza for MVP? I’m puttin’ it out there.

  41. This Kobe fella is a decent player, I think he has potential…

    Ariza has made a huge impact as usual. You know things are going well when he’s knocking down jumpers like that.

  42. Also relieving to see Bynum have a good game and carry us early despite his injury concerns.

  43. yeah kobe, show terry who’s owns the 4th! again, not impressive when it comes to consistency…are the lakers preserving energy for the long road games? i don’t know…but a win nonetheless and one against a supposedly good western team

  44. Excellent defense, if only we can channel it for 48 minutes. Great fight-from-behind win, nothing else to say.

  45. In how many of this season’s games do the Lakers have at least one run of 10+ to 0 or more? They’ve done it a lot.

  46. Kurt,

    I would like to put in a formal request for an Ariza post. The guy has got to be the biggest surprise of the season and his numbers are completely deceptive. Kobe put in 35, but I would argue that Ariza was the game changer.

  47. Dallas played well enough to win–except they didn’t. Toward the end of the third quarter, Kobe seemed to will a higher level of Laker effort and led the way–with Trevor not far behind.

    Interesting reliance on a short bench to get the job done.

  48. The Lakers switched to a sideline trap in the 4th quarter that the Mavs seemed unable to counter until the last few moments (when Terry hit a couple threes). This change in defensive tactics (in which Gasol, and later Odom) would trap immediately instead of waiting for the pick to come, caused Jason Kidd and Barea to make some poor decisions, which ultimately cost the Mavs the game. This led to a couple of Farmar/Kobe/Ariza steals that blew open the game. Excellent on-ball defense by Fisher and Vujacic to close out the game.

  49. hrm, kept forgetting we had this Kobe guy on our team. fun stuff.

    so, how did we lose to the pistons again?

    i can’t wait until our 2nd loss of the season. the media is going to have a ball.

  50. Drew played a good game but there was that stretch where he was hobbling pretty badly.

    It just seems that they play so-so and then when they feel like it they put on the defense and go on a huge run, this one was 17 or so. I am glad they have the confidence but it when that streak or run fails them then you have the game against Detroit.

    I guess the one thing that really bothered me from this game was their rotation to the corner shooter. Their first rotation would be fine but when the ball got swung back around again quickly to the same spot they were left open. 13-1….Feels good to be a Lakers fan.

  51. wondahbap, I just read your short comment at what 7:00pm and for some reason it made me laugh alot, thanks for making my night – lol.
    Also another great Laker win somehow.

  52. Every gae you can more or less pencil in a terrible start to the third, and a fantastic finish to it. It’s strange. Like they have to put a scare into themselves to get them to play their best.

  53. Wow Damp had only 3 rebounds. Talk about Bynum getting the job done.

    This may sound weird, but maybe after seeing the Heat start a 6′ 8″ center earlier, it hit me harder – seeing the twin towers out there together is just incredible.

  54. i understand that this would be grossly out of topic…but after reading stein’s article in the latest ESPN weekend dime, i cannot help but think that with all the frenzy trade potentially under discussion, it might actually help Lakers’ bid to win the championship.

    Cause we are build to win NOW…

    I don’t really an expert in statistics, but probably someone has some agreement with me?

    Oh ya, btw, the second half surge is really sick…we really have the talents to win the championship this year.


  55. Joel, I like the idea of an Ariza post, maybe next week.

  56. whew for a while there it looked like Detroit Vu all over again, then they stepped up. Trevor was terrific again.

    now what’s with Kobe’s jumper? he’s never been a jump shooter, but this year it seems like he’s struggling just a bit more. age? the olympics. of course as he often does, he recouped and ended up 50%+, but it took a tremendous 2nd half.

    and man what’s the deal with Vlad? when he’s on, he’s good, but when he’s off, he looks like he has no business taking an outside shot. how many times has he hit the side of the backboard this year? I’d like to see a shot chart for him. seems like he needs to stay away from the 3ptr on the sides.

  57. Bill Simmons has a pretty good column:

    Note the section about the increased use of statistics in defense

  58. trevor coming in for Rad in the first half was the game changer in my humble opinion.

  59. Kurt, I like the idea as well but I can’t take credit for suggesting it. LakerPauer is the one who made the request…

  60. my bad, i’m on my phone out of town. Good idea LakerPauer!

  61. I am certainly entertained by this team. Ariza is doing things for the Lakers, and my fantasy team, that I love. Pau and Bynum are getting to know each other nicely and we have been spoiled by watching Kobe the last decade plus. This team has become a powerhouse in the inside that few teams can match (that pass into Gasol who touch passed an ally-oop to Bynum), and I love LOs role as of now. He is bringing his quickness and length into play on defense in ways I do not recall seeing from him since his days playing under Riles, but… There is no way we beat Boston with the way we are playing. They are shutting opposing teams down in the first half and then hold them down with their bench for the rest of the game. If I have a fantasy player going against Boston I can assume that I’ll either get nothing out of him that night or I just switch him out if I have someone extra on the bench. I’ve not seen the Cavs much so I can’t really comment on them but if Detroit could flummox us with their brand of physicality (and I do think that had allot to do with why the Lakers never could make that run we have gotten used to over the course of this season) then we will again witness a complete breakdown of what the Lakers do when we play Boston. Unless the Lakers show that consistent defensive edge from tip off on to final whistle then forget about a title this year.

  62. I’m long time reader, infrequent poster and just wanted to say that I think the new site design is great.

  63. Didn’t we have an Ariza article in the past?

    I know this is a ton of work, and a technical feat I’m totally incapable of, but wouldn’t it be interesting to quantify Ariza’s “momentum factor”? I’m very high on the new Darkonian style of stats; and I think that an “Ariza Swing” stat might be appropriate. I’ve just breezed through the +/-‘s for the season, and Ariza’s averaging +9 per game. That statistic undoubtedly favors starters on this Lakers team, because many starters play with both the starting and bench squads. Since we’re winning many games by large margins, some starters have more opportunities to catch the team’s upswings. That said, Ariza’s +9 is not as impressive as his PER, or other statistics.

    Ariza’s work isn’t easily quantifiable, since “tips”, “taps”, “board assists”, and stalwart defense aren’t tracked and talked about religiously. If we were to create an Ariza Swing statistic, what should it be made of? His PER is tied for second on the team–with Bynum–and I feel his impact so far is third only to Bryant and Gasol.

    I also second the commenter who said we should run our offense through Pau more. He’s one of the best passers we have, he’s a seven-foot ostrich who’s not scared to scrap down low, and he protects the ball better than Bynum. I agree with Gasol–he should get more touches. If he’s got the ball in his hands, shooting as well as he has, every other player on our team becomes more of a threat: Kobe and Fish off the screens, Raddy with the swing pass, cutters, fakers, and Bynums.

    Kurt, I’m really feeling the new layout, and it seems like the community is growing larger, while keeping its quality. Thanks for all of your effort and the effort of the rest of the team here.

  64. Video up on Yahoo where Bynum says he might have aggravated his foot a little in the Mavs game.

    Is anyone familiar with bone spurs? Is this something rest and therapy will take care of, or should he just keep on playing through it? I want Bynum going strong in February/March, so the team has time to gel (if he has to sit out) before the playoffs.

  65. vote ariza into the allstar-game. we believe!

  66. The moment the momentum changed was when Kobe do on the floor to save the loose ball and got it to Ariza who then scored. THe Lakers went on a 17 pt run after that.

  67. Ariza for 6th Man of the Year!! Yes? No? LO?

  68. Re: Gasol, I don’t know how much we can rely on the guy honestly. I think he is great when he is not necessarily being ‘relied’ upon but operating off others. I’m definately making too much of one game but that one game had shades of last year in it. Kwame is a good defender but he isn’t KG and he took Gasol way out of his comfort zone, if we get too comfortable going to Gasol how will we adapt when what I think is the inevitable happens, and Gasol gets shutdown by the Celtics?

    I’m worried about the champs as well, I think they scare most of the Lakers and we have to make sure we smack them one in the season to make sure we are ready for the finals. Just had flashbacks to the 80’s but thats how its beginning to feel, the celtics are that good. I still don’t know if the lakers are though…

  69. I will grant you the Celtics are good, but I have watched them several times this season and they have looked very mediocre in spots. Their offense becomes stagnant and their defense becomes lazy and slow (sound familiar). They are very good at the end of games because they are tremendous at drawing fouls (Pierce particularly) and getting away with fouling at the defensive end (Hello, Garnett!)

  70. emma, you bring up a good point… LO or Trevor for 6th man?
    hmmm, what if we have a new category this year…
    the best 6th man of the year, and…
    the best 7th man of the year!

  71. What I liked was Lamar’s comment to a reporter who asked about trevor…. Lamar showed some respect for Trevors ability to impact the game… the guy who is the principal reason for why lamar isnt out there playing the three spot at times.

  72. Thanks Kurt and Joel, look forward to the post.

  73. RE:71
    You gotta remember that Kwame is a good individual defender. When he was with us and when we played the timberwolves, he gave Garnett trouble… he’s close to 7 feet tall and weighs about 280… so he is strong enough to give Gasol… Garnett… most power forwards problems… That is just my take.

    Props to Kurt… great site. I always come here for some good laker reading / insight… this is my first post and I hope to do more…

  74. when it comes to comparing Kwame to Pau…I will always remember Phil’s reply to Mitch when Mitch told Phil he could get Pau Gasol for Kwame Brown….
    Phil said he looked at Mitch and said flatly…
    “No … you can’t”
    (as if he thought he was being punked on a secret MTV camera)
    I think that says it all 😉

  75. New post up.