Hey, remember three weeks ago when basketball sucked? Those were(n't) the days.
The Mavericks are slowly but surely forming into the versatile, deep and balanced team that many envisioned when Dallas loaded its roster with cheap (but talented) gambles. Four in a row now for the Mavericks, including two that were absolute thrashings. Things haven't completely turned around but it's a helluva lot better than before. Onto the bullets:
- Even with Milwaukee being without key players, credit the Mavericks for taking care of business in its last two games against bad opponents on the first leg of a back-to-back. Detroit and Milwaukee are bad teams, but that still rarely guarantees a 30-point lead in the fourth quarter. No Mav played more than Jason Terry's 25 minutes. Beautiful.
- Brandon Jennings and Shaun Livingston shot a combined 13-for-20 from the field and the Bucks still shot 37.2 percent. Granted that even at full strength, the Bucks are a woefully inefficient offensive outfit, but the Mavericks were all over the place. Dallas did a great job on rotations and forcing Milwaukee to launch contested threes.
- Offensively, the Mavericks seem to be morphing into an offensive unit that has the potential to be even deadlier then the elite offense we saw in the Finals this past June. Vince Carter (16 points, 7-of-10 FG) is finally fitting in with an offense that tailors to his skills and utilizing his size on the block. In Orlando and Phoenix, Carter was completely regulated to spot-up shooter, becoming lost in the flow of an offense with the only responsibility of launching threes. Rick Carlisle is keeping Carter engaged and its paying off wonderfully. It's allowing Dirk Nowitzki (11 points, 4-of-7 FG) to just be a cog to the machine instead of the entire machine. There will be nights when Dallas runs into more stout teams and his one-on-one heroics will be needed, but its nice to know the Mavericks can feast off the unfortunate NBA squads with a balanced attack.
- It's games like tonight why many inside the Maverick's organization considered Rodrigue Beaubois (15 points, 7-of-12 shooting) untouchable. Beaubois has largely played poorly even against some of the weaker teams this season, so just seeing Beaubois break out against ANY team was a welcome sight. His pure speed is practically unmatched in the open court, even with the speedy Jennings picking him up at times. Sometimes, it seems Beaubois thinks a little too much instead of just letting his natural talents lead him. Perhaps the pressure of transitioning into more of a "point guard" has done that, but Beaubois' best assest is his scoring. Maybe that means he won't be Dallas' point guard of the future but it still could mean he's a very viable player.
- Ian Mahinmi went 0-for-2 from the field. Better trade him.
- Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright. Brandan Wright.
- Another double digit steals game for the Mavs (13 this time.) As I've said before, the Mavericks are completely changing how they play defense, now playing the passing lanes more aggressively than ever before. Dallas' defense for the better part of the last decade was never about forcing turnovers. Now that seems to be one of the foundations.
- Shawn Marion made TWO (!!!!!!!) three pointers tonight. Welcome to the apocalypse everybody!