Preview and Chat: The Dallas Mavericks

Darius Soriano —  March 12, 2011

Records: Lakers 46-20 (3rd in West), Mavericks 47-18 (2nd in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 111.7 (2nd in NBA), Mavericks 110.2 (8th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 104.6 (8th in NBA), Mavericks 105.8 (12th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Mavericks: Jason Kidd, Rodrigue Beaubois, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler
Injuries: Lakers: Devin Ebanks & Theo Ratliff (out); Mavericks: Caron Butler & Dominique Jones (out), Peja Stojakovic (questionable)

The Lakers Coming in: One loss, even in a game that the Lakers really wanted, doesn’t diminish the fact that the team really has been playing strong ball of late. I’ll happily take 8 wins in 9 tries any time it’s offered up especially when it’s fueled with top shelf defense. That said, the loss to the Heat did bring up some old ugly habits that the Lakers need to ensure don’t linger for too long. Sloppy rotations on the wing led to too many open jumpers to capable shooters while both bigs and smalls didn’t do a good job controlling the defensive glass. When you combine that with the turnover bug popping up at the wrong times and the reserves not contributing with needed consistency, Thursday’s Lakers looked quite similar to the team that has been far too up and down for most of the year in these key areas. Mind you, even with these problems cropping up the Lakers were very much in position to win that game so things aren’t that bad. But those are habits the Lakers need to flush from their system if they’re going to close the season as strong as they’d like. I’d like to see better in these areas starting tonight.

The Mavericks Coming in: One reason the Lakers haven’t made up more ground on the Mavs in the chase for the 2nd seed out West is because Dallas has been playing so well. They’ve only lost 3 times in their last 23 games and each of those L’s was by a single point. The veteran crew that the Mavs put on the floor just seem to know how to win games. Dirk continues his stellar play as an all around offensive force with shooting percentages (53/43/88 from the field, three, and FT line) that are truly eye popping. Jason Kidd is still going strong as a floor general and has evolved into a viable deep threat from beyond the arc. Jason Terry is a 4th quarter terror to opposing teams and Shawn Marion is having a bounce back year of sorts with solid activity around the rim and  And Tyson Chandler is providing the rugged defense, rebounding, and inside finishing on lobs and put backs that he gave the Hornets just a few years ago in their rise as a West power.

All that said, while Dallas has been on an extended run of playing winning ball, 2 of those 3 losses (in their last 23 games) have come in their last 4 contests. Both New Orleans and Memphis were able to squeak out wins on the strength of strong play from their PF’s and timely scoring from their PG’s. And if Dallas does have a weakness it’s that their defense isn’t consistent, often forcing them to play zone to cover up for their deficiencies in stopping players on the wing and when going after Dirk on that side of the ball. Make no mistake, though, the Mavs are a top flight team. They’ve infused their lineup with youth and athleticism with the return of Roddy Beaubois and offer useful options off the bench in Barrea, Peja, Cardinal, and Haywood. They’re deep, experienced and surely have an underestimated hunger to claim a championship before their core of veteran players retire. Their time is now and they’re playing like it.

Mavericks Blogs: Rob Mahoney does superb work at The Two Man Game. Also check out Mavs Money Ball for more very good analysis.

Keys to game: Dallas, more than maybe any other team outside of Boston, offers a team that matches up quite well with the Lakers. Their size, bench play, style of guards, and outside shooting seem perfectly constructed to play the Lakers tough. In order to defeat such a team the Lakers will need to be at their best in order to counteract those strengths.

Offensively, the typical approach of working the ball inside out is still the best strategy, but not necessarily in the way that you’d think. Yes, Gasol and Bynum should be asked to do work against Dirk and Chandler respectively, but I’d also like to see Kobe go into the post more this game than he did against the Heat. The Mavs will have a difficult choice to make today in terms of who they put on #24. Before the return of Beaubois the Mavs were quite content at starting DeShawn Stevenson to defend Kobe, but now that won’t be the case. Beaubois will be forced to defend a much bigger player today as he’ll either defend Kobe or will move onto Artest if Marion defends the Mamba. This lack of a multiple, capable wing defenders could be the Mavs downfall against the Lakers should they do what’s needed to exploit this weakness. That means moving Kobe off the ball more frequently and having him run off screens both to get his jumper off as well as to motion him to the post. I’d love to see the Lakers run center opposite sets for Kobe and also have him run off the single/double screen actions so he can curl towards the paint to get his shot off against either defender that he sees.

The other key offensively will be how the Lakers deal with the Mavs’ zone D. Ball and player movement will need to be crisp. Shooters will need to catch and shoot without hesitation and knock down some shots to loosen up the D. Also, the Lakers bigs will need to be active in both flashing to open space at the FT line and along the baseline. If the ball moves quickly and decisively into these gaps it will force the Mavs D to collapse and it will open up every other option in the Lakers’ sets. If the opposite occurs and the Lakers lazily swing the ball around the perimeter and simply settle for contested jumpers it will be a long night. The Lakers know what they’ll need to do, the question is if they’ll commit to it.

Defensively, slowing the Mavs is a multi-layered task that will truly test the Lakers new defensive scheme. The Lakers are more than happy to give up the mid-range jumper and force teams to bury long twos to beat them. Well, Dallas has the exact personnel to do just that. Dirk is one of the best mid-range shooters in the league, making 51% of his shots from 10-15 feet and a whopping 54% of his shots from 16-23 feet. Meanwhile, Jason Terry makes those shots at a very respectable 47% and 46%. If the Lakers are going to slow the Mavs in these areas they’ll need strong individual D (I’m looking at you Pau and Odom) and  Bynum will need to be ready to contest those shots when players come off screens rather than being overly concerned with players getting all the way to the rim (ala Wade and LeBron). Terry, Beaubois, and Barrea are the only Mavs that consistently threaten the rim on penetration, so understanding that players will be more than comfortable shooting that pull up J will have to be in the back of the minds of the Lakers bigs.

The other defensive key is ensuring that the Lakers clean up their defensive glass. Dallas is not a particularly good offensive rebounding team but in Chandler, Haywood, and Marion they have active bodies that will go after the ball if the Lakers relax after the shot goes up. Dallas is too efficient an offensive team to give extra opportunities to.

Lastly, the pace of this game should favor the Lakers as the Mavs actually play at a slower pace than the Lakers. This should enable the Lakers to set up both their halfcourt O and D easily.  However don’t discount Dallas’ ability to change the tempo of the contest by pushing the ball and trying to get easy baskets in transition at the rim and along the perimeter against collapsing and late rotating defenders. Kidd, Beaubois, Terry, and Barrea all have some waterbug in them and they’re more than willing to get out in the open floor and exploit defenses. This is even more of a strategy when Dirk is out of the game and Marion slides to PF and Cardinal comes into the game. The Lakers bigs will need to get back but protect the rim so that the wings can mark shooters who love to run to the three point line in early offensive sets.

We all know this is a big game. In fact, despite the sexiness of the Heat match up with all that star power, today’s game is even more important to the Lakers. Dallas is a game and a half up in the standings and this game offers the perfect opportunity to cut into that lead and ultimately would put them one step closer to snatching the #2 seed away from them. Plus, winning this game would allow the Lakers to finish 3-1 on their road trip, a mark that would be quite the achievement considering the caliber of opponent they faced on this trip.

Where you can watch: 6:00pm start time out west on KCAL and on NBA TV. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710am.

Darius Soriano

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91 responses to Preview and Chat: The Dallas Mavericks

  1. Once again, superb write-up Darius. One thing I’ve also thought about is perhaps the Lakers should run quite a few Kobe/Pau P&Rs. They executed it quite well in the first game this season in January, particularly in the first half. Now I know Chandler sat out most of that half and I’m sure the Lakers are aware of that, but neither he, Dirk or Haywood are particularly fleet-footed so maybe we’ll see them run it.

    Also, Lamar has got to bounce back from his abysmal game on Thursday. The bench as a whole needs to step up as they’ve been slacking for the better part of 2011. Dallas’ bench is more than capable of stretching out a close game, so that means no more ducking under the screener and firing long 2s, UPS :)

  2. For Warren!

    C’mon Lakeshow! 2nd seed awaits!

  3. Great preview. I think this game comes down to one thing: defensive intensity. Let’s get it!

  4. Thanks for the preview Darius this one us right on the money. I just hope that no Dallas player would get hot on their outside shots just like the last time we played them.

  5. I’ll add to Darius’ fantastic preview by saying this… The Lakers have followed long winning streaks this season with long (for Laker standards) losing streaks. To me that shows a lack of focus with a sprinkle of fragility. This game will show how serious the Lakers are right now after a very disheartening loss to the team Phil Jakckson thinks they will be facing in the finals. The Mavs are not on the same level as Los Angeles and might not even be at the same level as the Spurs… Although count me in the bunch that feels the best Texas team resides in Dallas.

  6. I didn’t think of this earlier, but also look for Kidd to spend time on Kobe early (or even to start) rather than always seeing Beaubois. Kidd has more size and with Fisher not being a huge threat on O, Kidd may be better utilized trying to stay with Kobe.

    All that said, this doesn’t change my opinion that Kobe should look to go inside early and work off the ball to try and get his touches/shots. Even though Kidd has more size, Kobe’s had numerous battles with him and knows how to attack him.

  7. At this point in Kidd’s career jason cannot even attempt to guard Kobe. You will see a lot of Shawn Marion on him I would imagine.

  8. Aaron,
    I’d agree that Marion will get his chances but I think more so in lineups that Kobe plays SF rather than if he’s playing SG. With Barnes back and Ron playing relatively well of late, someone will have to guard the SF now. Who will do that? Kidd? Beaubois? Maybe Brewer? All of those options pose risks, especially in the Mavs’ ability to rebound the ball.

  9. Darius,
    We both know the Lakers don’t often try and take advantage of advantageous match ups in the regular season. That’s a Phil Jackson coaching philosophy. He also doesn’t go at key players when they are in foul trouble. You might see Artest in the post against Kidd, but you won’t see it often enough to make the Mavs pay for that defensive switch. But I agree that is the great thing abut having Artest instead of a Trevor Ariza, teams can’t use their bigger SF to body up on Kobe. Especially if their SF is their best defender… Like tonight.

  10. How do you stop Bynum when he is under the basket, it is a guaranteed 2 for sure.

  11. Wow, the electronic ads reflecting off the floor is TERRIBLE. Is it always this bad in their arena?

  12. Anybody have tips on how i can watch/listen to the game online?

  13. Wow… I’ve seen Bynum as explosive before…. But never thus powerful and explosive. He looks like Shaq. And these Mavs Centers are legit… As you can see by the way the push Gasol around when Bynum went to the bench.

  14. Atdhenet.tv.

    If Bynum keeps this up, well be hard to beat

  15. Stupid NBATV games not on nba league pass broadband.

    Does anyone have a good link? atdhenet.tv/ stream for the game doesn’t appear to be up.

  16. 14. hes looking to dunk a lot like shaq did back in the days.

  17. 8 offensive boards in the first quarter, yikes!

  18. they have 7 offensive rebounds already!

  19. Blake could have shot that but good pass to bynum

  20. I like this Killer B.O. lineup

    bynum
    brown
    blake
    barnes

    and Odom

    Killer B.O.

  21. Bynum is officially back to being “The Beast.” How many seven footers are this good. Remember Dwight Howard is only 6-11 on a good day. I would guess now only a few more games till his knee gives out.

  22. damn, no streaming on atdhenet.tv Y_Y..any links?

  23. the beast.

  24. vhan. go to 710 espn and listen to the game on the radio or on the internet.

  25. lotsa steals real quick

  26. @ 17, LOfan

    He’s also shooting free throws like Shaq did back n the days

  27. @22. Aaron, stop tempting fate…smh

    I wonder if Drew has ever played as many minutes (20:21) in a first half in his career as he did tonight. Sure, the extra time from Lamar’s cut was one of the reasons, but he was also owning the two Dallas bigs in the post. A couple other things–there is no way one of our wings should ever double Haywood down low when Drew is on him already, even if Corey Brewer is the one they’re leaving alone beyond the arc. And, in the past when Drew has bricked too many FTs, he’s lost his edge mentally and let it affect the rest of his game. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen tonight.

  28. I can’t watch the game, but from the box score I’m seeing a balanced offense which is nice. I wish I could see Drew eating ‘em up in the paint.

    What’s jumping out at me is Marion w/ 15…hustle points and put backs or what? Who’s been guarding him?

  29. 22, 28: Seriously, Aaron…the basketball gods are about to press the button, don’t give them any reason!

  30. i’m shocked at the number of minutes bynum has played.

  31. Bynum looks like he will be a matchup problem for the Mavericks should the they face the Lakers in the playoffs

  32. Glove: Bynum will be a matchup problem for just about anyone;)

  33. Carlisle is making the Lakers pay by running a pick and pop with Nowitzki and another big, forcing Drew to try and cover Dirk on the wing.

  34. Oh crap… Kobe heading to the locker room with an ankle injury.

  35. Kobe just twisted his ankle. I blame Aaron.
    /just kidding

  36. Kobe goes to locker room, Lakers go on 5-0 run.

  37. Kobe turned an ankle did not look good

  38. Oh man, I replayed Kobe’s injury like five times, and his ankle took a real bad twist, like 90 degrees it seemed like.

  39. Blake, 3-4 FGs…finally..

  40. Aaron really needs to hone his voodoo doll skills. Apparently his “Bynum” looks more like “Bryant”…

  41. ha, +1 3Three…

  42. Man… Chandler and Haywood are some big dudes and Bynum is just moving them out of the way. If only he could make a free throw…

  43. “Matt Barnes will KILL you”

  44. Ha… Yea… I guess Bynum is Shaq tonIght. He can’t makena ft

  45. 0 for 5 from the line is strange from Bynum. He is usually a 65-70% FT shooter, right? Yeah… 69.1% according to his page on ESPN.

    *shrugs*

    Happens I guess…

  46. Steve Blake is having his best game in eons.

  47. i can visualize headlines if we win this without Kobe.

  48. Kobe gets hurt and our offense has suddenly become beautiful. So many nice curls and back door cuts. Now if only Blake’s shooting form didn’t make me cringe every time he launches a three.

  49. Kobe needs to sit down. He’s obviously hurt, immediately took a bad shot and got abused at the other end.

  50. bynum needs to close this game. and im happy for blake he finally had a signature game.

  51. The Lakers would be blowing out the Mavs if they could hit freethrows. 10-19?! That’s insane. That means you, Drew!

  52. Just like Shaq, makes ‘em when they count. Lol

  53. you guys think kobe should be playing right now?

  54. Kobe needs to find a way to NOT go into Mamba mode if the Lakers hope to make this less dramatic – and I say this because the other lakers seem involved.

  55. lol @ Tra

  56. If Bynum becomes the modern day Shaq, I’ll take it along with all that comes with that.

  57. I think, at some point, that both Gasol and Bynum need to set up in the low post, put their man in their back pocket, and call for the ball.

    And by, “Call for the ball”, I mean:
    RAISE their hand.
    RAISE their voice.
    SAY, “KOBE. PASS THE BALL!”

    Wonder if that would work…

  58. Dirk is such a good shooter. Great form, nearly unblockable. He doesn’t even bother with the rim most of the time.

    Sometimes I think he doesn’t shoot ENOUGH. Put Kobe’s attitude in him and he’d probably score 40 a game.

  59. Setting aside what has been a very good game, I’m watching the NBA TV feed with the Dallas announcers, and I’d just like to say they’re really great.

    So many announcers are egregious homers, these two are really calling it nicely, admitting that their team does indeed foul at times, for instance.

    I wonder…the worst homer announcers I’ve heard are Milwaukee and Atlanta, two historically below-average teams, whereas the Lakers’ and Dallas’ announcers, calling games for very successful teams, don’t feel the need to make excuses and complain about every call, made or imagined.

    Mostly I just wanted to say I really like Dallas’ announcers.

  60. tru warrior in da houseeeeeeee

  61. This time Artest makes the layup.

  62. Artest with the O-rebound and layup

  63. 55, agreed. The offense was flowing smoothly until Kobe came back onto the floor. I don’t care how great a shooter he is: layups at the basket are always preferable to jump shots.

  64. So from the bits and pieces I’ve seen with my crappy Internet –

    -Blake rediscovered his 3-point shot
    -Lamar seems to have played very good D on Dirk
    -Artest just channeled his Game 7 form

  65. That’s a Derek Fisher Classic Layup In Traffic!

    EDIT: And a classic Gasol-splits-clutch-FTs demonstration.

    The Lakers are what they are..

  66. free throws killed us tonight, its like 2002 all over again.

  67. dont like the decision to have kobe in the game. this is called “hero-basketball”

  68. but then he might hit the game winner and ill have to take it all back. Lets go kobe!!!!!!

  69. so happy bynum is closing games now…love it.

  70. Once again, makes ‘em when it counts

  71. Great, GREAT defense by Bynum! And Free Throws too! Grab some pine, Mamba – Andrew is the new closer.

  72. That should do it. Bynum found his touch at the line at the right time.

  73. Bynum with 2 clutch FTs

  74. I have been on the edge of my chair this last 120 seconds, and Bynum makes his FT’s! He makes them when they count.

  75. Game … Set … Match

    Successful Road Trip.

  76. Good game tonight – and the rest of the league must be wetting themselves when they watch Drew play..

  77. Agreed, love Bynum closing.

    Agreed with the comment someone made about when Kobe came in. When Kobe went out with the ankle, we developed some real nice ball movement and offensive flow. He killed that immediately with his first stand, face-up, pause, jack-up-contested-J routine. Love the guy, but when there’s a real offensive flow going he has to do a better job of not killing that.

  78. It really says something when your team gets beat in almost every category but still manages to win the game.

    Your star gets hurt and has a bad game. You starting point guard plays one of the worst games in his career (and that says something) and your numbers 2 and 3 scorers have off nights shooting. I’m proud of our boys for sticking to it tonight.

  79. Are you there basketball gods,
    Its me, LOfan…

    please keep the lakers team, happy healthy and together. We will sacrifice Luke Walton at your alter if it makes thy happy. And take care of Kobe’s ankle. Ok thanks.

  80. Thanks Ron, Drew, Blake, and Shannon for having our backs tonight.

  81. Drew’s an aircraft carrier!

  82. @busboys4me

    and lamar

  83. No more away games for the rest of the month. May be a good time to recover some of that energy and definitely good opportunity to earn that 2nd seed.

  84. Yeah, this was a good road trip at 3-1, I will take it. I hope Kobe takes his time and lets that ankle heal properly.

  85. 11 of the last 15 at home; April 4 of 8 at home

    oh, and one more game against Dallas.

    niiice

  86. Is anyone on the Lakers capable of pointing out to Kobe how they almost went off the rail when he came back in? I mean, does Kobe not see that?

    It’s not that Kobe isn’t capable of going into mamba mode any more. It’s just that having 5 mins left on the clock isn’t automatic cue for him to go into iso no matter what is going on. Or the fact that he’s hurt means he has to test whatever body part is hurting by attempting a tough fallaway.

    The one guy who could say no to Kobe hasn’t and now he’s retiring.

  87. Kobe said after the game that this is worst he has hurt his ankle and he may not play Mon v. Orlando. Anyone worried?!

  88. Yes, we lose Monday if Kobe cant play

  89. Really good effort tonight. I’m not worried about Dallas in the playoffs, no matter who has HCA.

    One thing that I think gets misrepresented in the discussion about the Lakers “flipping the switch” in the playoffs is the perception that it’s simply a matter of focus and effort. That’s a factor of course, but I think this Laker team is really built to beat teams in a 4 out of 7 series. That’s how the coaching staff prepares them. The regular season is just a long preamble to that task.

    The only time this team has lost a series was the ’08 Finals, when the personnel was just lacking – Walton, VladRad, Sasha, & Mihm all played significant minutes in that series – and the Lakers still were in 5 of the 6 games, winning 2.

    I don’t care who the Lakers face off against in a 7 game series. The coaches are going to make great adjustments game to game, and if the roster’s healthy, this team’s going to grind everyone else down.