Dallas mediocre offense didn't add up. The early struggles were somewhat predictable, with so many new parts and no full training camp, but eventually, those struggles just had to end. The Mavericks were too talented to be this stagnent. Tonight doesn't mean those struggles are over, but it is a pretty filthy tease at what the team is capable of.
The 124-99 win tonight over the Suns displayed everything that is best about the Mavericks attack – expert ball movement, tremendous cuts, great finishes and precision shooting. I like this kind of basketball, it's neat.
Onto the bullets:
- There's a really nasty stigma that three-point shooting teams like to shy away from the basket. Dallas tonight wouldn't have made 14 three-pointers (on 27 shots) if it weren't for constant dribble-drives and postups. The Suns made a concentrated effort to pack the paint, almost to a laughable degree, considering how wide open the Mavericks shooters were. That decision made some sense, considering Dallas awful three-point percentage so far. But clearly, tonight was the night to bust out. Delonte West, Rodrigue Beaubois and Jason Terry all did wonderful jobs of putting the Suns defense on their heels, forcing perfect rotations. That rarely happened, as the Mavericks continuously found open looks beyond the arch. Vince Carter, West and Terry combined for 13 of the 14 threes, and quite honestly, I can't remember one shot that I scratched my head after. This was ball movement at its finest, evidenced on 31 assists on 48 made field goals.
- The balance Dallas showed was incredible. As if hitting 14 threes wasn't enough, the Mavericks also picked up their fair share of easy buckets around the rim. Shawn Marion (20 points) took advantage of some lazy Suns defenders who turned their head watching the Mavericks guards when penetrating on pick and rolls. Marion's awkward runners were all going down and Ian Mahinmi found himself in front of the rim for a couple of easy points. As the game progressed, West and Terry were absolutely toying with the Phoenix defense, pushing into the lane and either firing it to an open shooter or going all the way to the rim.
- Dirk Nowtizki wasn't particularly great (10 points, 4-of-10 shooting) but his mere presence helps Dallas spacing so much. Also, I will say this was the first time Dirk looked comfortable in the post in WEEKS. Dirk finally did more than just hang out waiting for catch and shoot opportunities. He had a couple of nice, Dirk-y post moves and was moving the ball brilliantly out of the post (four assists). Phoenix wanted to make sure everyone but Dirk beat them, swarming him with multiple defenders before he even made his first dribble in a post up. Remember there was a time where Dirk's passing out of a double team was his biggest weakness? That feels like 10 years ago. Oh wait, it kinda was.
- It wasn't a popular decision to replace J.J. Barea and Caron Butler with West and Carter, but the latter were always the more efficient players and it's starting to show. Carter's surge isn't too surprising when you consider he's been a reliable three-point shooter in the last few seasons and West has always produced when given the amount of minutes. Leave it to the Mavericks to overlook a few media stigmas and corral these two players and fit them into their system. Both were wonderful tonight in multiple areas of the game. For all the threes, Carter had some great plays off the dribble, setting up teammates and going to the basket.
- Rodrigue Beaubois, the world is yours. Jason Kidd might not be back for another week and Beaubois has responded with high-assist, low-turnover basketball. Seven assists and just one turnover and more importantly, Beaubois just looks like he gets it. Tonight he looked settled, calm and in control. He was twisting and turning into the lane and knowing when it was appropriate to finish at the rim or find a teammates. Beaubois' vision in the halfcourt has been called into question so far in his career, but tonight, it wasn't close to being an issue.
- Obligatory defense could be better bullet. Dallas elite-level defense wasn't always there tonight, and while the Suns ended up shooting under 45 percent, they were hovering close to 50 for a majority of the game. Dallas offense was just so relentless, Phoenix could never catch up. The Mavericks did almost as lousy a job of closing out to shooters as the Suns did (12 threes for the Suns). Marcin Gortat went 7-of-12 from the floor and, honestly, it could have been worse as he missed at least three or four fairly easy shots. *Insert obligatory reference to what could have been if Gortat signed with Dallas.*
- Phoenix was without Steve Nash, and early on, it seemed it really didn't matter. As stated above, the Suns offense never really looked too off-kilter without their point guard running the show. Even with Nash in the lineup, the Suns weren't going to keep up with the Mavericks tonight.
- I heard somewhere that Roddy Beaubois alley oops are good for the soul.
- Michael Redd still plays basketball? And he can still make shots? And he can still walk? And he still has knees?
- 124 points on just 10 turnovers. On the second night of a back-to-back. Good. Grief. That's wonderful.