PACE #20 93.1
OFF #8 107.6
DEF #7 102.3
Dallas did exactly what people expected from them in the regular season: be one of the top seeds in the Western conference. They were one of the most fundamentally sound teams in the league, even though Dirk Nowitzki got injured and missed some games that resulted in six losses in a row. Without this injury, Dallas would have most likely been the top seed in their conference.
Offensively, Dallas has been typically a pure jump shooting team and the result of that was that they were the 2nd worst team in scoring in the paint with just 36.7 ppg! They were also the 2nd team with less FGA’s at the rim with 25.6 FGA/game and they didn’t even pursue their own misses, as they were the 5th worst team in offensive rebounding, with a rate of jump 24.1%. The good news is that Dallas hit their shots last season. They were the best team in shooting “long two’s” (16-23 feet range) with 45.3% FG and they were also 3rd in the league in eFG% shooting with 52.48%.
Defensively, Tyson Chandler was a huge addition for Dallas, but the truth must be told: Dallas was just marginally better defensively than they had been in the previous season – 102.3 vs 103.2 in terms of defensive efficiency! Same goes for points allowed in the paint – 41.7 ppg in 09-10 vs 41.6 ppg in 10-11. So, how did a team who was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in the previous year become the NBA champion in the following season?
In my opinion, it was a combination of being hot and clutch in the right moment and most importantly to maximize their matchup advantages against their opponents.
Normally, a team isn’t expected to keep the same offensive effectiveness in the playoffs in comparison with the regular season. It’s normal for the teams to lose some effectiveness, as not only they face stronger opposition as the series remove some the surprise effect as the games go by. But that didn’t happen with Dallas! According to my numbers, Dallas had an offensive efficiency of 114.5 vs Portland, 117.7 vs Lakers, 115.9 vs Oklahoma City and 111.5 vs Miami in the finals! Speaking now of being clutch, Dirk Nowitzki was the ultimate definition of being a clutch player. During the playoffs, he attempted 186 FT’s and hit 94.1% of them, which is the highest percentage in NBA history among those who have attempted at least 65 free throws in a single postseason!
Rick Carlslie and his staff also did an amazing job by maximizing their matchup advantages. Against the Blazers, Jason Kidd was pivotal by shooting 9-14 FG (6-10 3PTS) & 7-11 FG (3-6 3PTS) in the first two games. Portland decided to double team Dirk with their guards while choosing Kidd to be the Mavs player left wide open. The Mavs punished that. Then, the Blazers decided to respect Kidd’s long range shooting. With that, Dirk got more space and caved the Blazers with 58pts in the final two games of the series.
Against the Lakers, the Mavs took advantage of the slow footed big men of the Lakers. The team-help defense of the Lakers was ridiculously bad and the Mavs with their great ball movement torched the Lakers from the 3PTS line. In the Game 4 of the series, the Lakers decided to give up the middle to attempt to stop the hot shooters and so, the Mavs used Barea and his penetrations to torch them. Barea played just 27 minutes, but shot 9-14 FG and dished 8 assists – team high!
In the conference final versus Oklahoma City, the Mavs had a huge matchup advantage in using Dirk Nowitzki down low against Ibaka and Dirk really torched them. Defensively, they were conservative in the first two games of the series, but when they unleashed their awesome zone defense against the Thunder, Oklahoma City simply couldn’t hit from the outside (as they usually struggle against zone defenses). Note that in the last 3 games of the series (all Mavs wins), the Thunder shot 1-17, 2-13 & 5-16 from the 3PTS line, in a combined effort of 8-46 (17%)!
Finally against Miami, Tyson Chandler was really a pivotal piece of the Mavs win, as he is a terrific help defender and for several times he ended up guarding Wade or Lebron in the final seconds of a possession. In almost any case around the league, this would result in a huge mismatch in favor of the Heat, but with a great leaping ability and footwork, Chandler made a terrific job in defending Wade and Lebron. Props also for Kidd and Marion for their defensive assignments against those two players. Offensively, Dallas struggled to hit their shots from the outside and so, they relied on the free throw line and a clutch Dirk to beat Miami. When they started to hit the 3PTS shots, Miami was done: 13-19 & 11-26 3PTS in the last two games of the series.
And so, Dallas was able to be the 2010-2011 NBA champions!
Weirdly, with the new CBA deal, the Mavs with Mark Cuban weren’t as aggressive as expected to try to keep the same team from last season. They didn’t pursuit Caron Butler, they knew Tyson Chandler wasn’t staying with them and even they JJ Barea go to Minnesota! Instead, Mark Cuban used the Lakers sense of urgency to save money to basically get Lamar Odom in exchange of nothing! Plus, they also used the Suns buyout of Vince Carter to get him. With a tough schedule with such short rests between the games and with the Mavs being such a veteran team, they really need to have a deep roster and Mark Cuban is doing a really nice job!
They have now multiple guards: Kidd, Carter, Beaubois, West and Jones. I have some doubts about the utility of signing Vince Carter. Last season, Carter was “pathetic” in Phoenix maybe because of lack of motivation, but we are talking about professional players, right?! He seems to not work hard when he doesn’t have the ball on his hands, but the context of this situation might be good for him: playing alongside Jason Kidd with the NBA champs and have a great big man to perform the pick n rolls that he likes to do so much. But if he doesn’t’ show up to play, then he’s done for good.
The issue will be on the frontcourt. Haywood can be like Chandler when it comes to guard 1*1 the opposing center, as he is a good defensive center. The problem is that Haywood doesn’t have the speed and lateral quickness to rotate defensively like Chandler did for the Mavericks. Odom is a great player, but he isn’t a center, so Rick Carlslie will have to make some magic in using the right lineup in the right moments. Dirk can play with Odom at the same time as a center and Odom’s good court vision will help the team.
We can expect the Mavs to have a good ball movement once again. Are they the favorite to win the NBA and the West this season? In my opinion, I don’t think so. They will need similar circumstances from last season to win it all again. Dirk will always be clutch, but the Mavs’ offensive efficiency from last season in the playoffs will be very tough to repeat again. Nevertheless, we can expect the usual Mavs for the regular season and be once again a top seed in the West.