After the Knicks game on Sunday, I declared on Twitter to just eject that game from the memory banks. Dallas played a sloppy second half, got no bench production and still needed a remarkable amount of ridiculous shots from Steve Novak and Jeremy Lin to beat them. All the good work Dallas did last week wasn't lost on that Sunday. And tonight proved it.
It wasn't always sharp, but Dallas did what any good team would have done tonight: pummel a team in free-fall with injuries and no depth. The final score of 89-73 wasn't really indicative of how close the game was. The Mavericks didn't exactly hammer the Celtics early, but aside from a few moments in the first quarter, Boston never really had a chance.
Dirk Nowitkzi was great, Jason Terry returned some much needed stability to the bench, the defense feasted on a depleted Boston team and Dominique Jones looks like a player (a good one, wise ass). It wasn't perfect, but on the second night of a back-to-back, a win like this is just fine. Onto the bullets.
- Dirk seriously missed 12 shots? How did that happen? Dirk somehow needed 24 shots to get 26 points (which is still a helluva lot more efficient then a lot of other scorers in this league, it just speaks to Dirk's brilliance) but he still killed it. Boston was missing Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett and it showed when Dallas ran a pick and pop with Dirk and he was wide open – constantly. The Celtics back up big men aside from Bass already weren't that great. Take away those two contributors? Yeesh. And Dirk promptly lit it up. Oh, and how about 16 boards? Neat.
- Speaking of the Celtics big men, the Mavericks smelled blood in the water tonight. Not one Boston big has really any offensive capabilities right now aside from a Jermaine O'Neal short jumper. The Mavericks knew this and absolutely blitzed any Celtic ball handler with a hard trap. It didn't always force a turnover or a bad shot, but a majority of the time it led to a pass to a bad shot or turnover. Boston had to scramble a lot on offense and take some ill-advised shots, mainly because Dallas didn't respect the roll man at all on the pick and roll. Thus, Boston shoots 39.2 percent and the Mavericks mount another head on the wall of their league-leading field-goal percentage defense.
- Jason Terry was wonderful. The bench lacked JET's shot making and the Mavericks have really had to rely on their starters for creating any separation in the Mavericks six-game streak last week. Terry desperately needed the home crowd too to snap out of a little funk he had been before he missed two games. He didn't force any shots until garbage time and always was the beneficiary of the Mavericks ball movement.
- Avery Bradley has shot 38 percent this year on midrange jumpers (16-23 feet, according to Hoopdata). He was 5-of-6 tonight. Of course.
- But Bradley is a player and a keeper. He's the best full-court defender in the league and can really handle any point guard. A fantastic defender with great footwork and instincts. He isn't a true point guard, but he should get even better as he grows into a nice reserve role when Rajon Rando comes back from suspension.
- Brendan Haywood had another one of those "doesn't show up in the box score games." He executed the Mavericks game plan of trapping hard on the pick and rolls and rebounded well (eight in 17 minutes, and also plenty of good box outs to allow Dirk to grab a few).
- Can anyone throw Brandan Wright a normal alley-oop pass? Terry lofted another one way too high but Wright still managed to snare it and lay it in.
- Wright wasn't the first off the bench in the first half to grab Haywood, but was in the second half. Wright chipped in nine points, five rebounds and three blocks and his normal display of energy and effort on defense. Ian Mahinmi hasn't really played himself out of the rotation, more than Wright has played his way in.
- The expectations for Lamar Odom are so staggeringly low nowadays that tonight's 2-for-8, four points, four rebounds, two assits, a steal and a block in 20 minutes is considered simply OK now. Odom didn't look absolutely brain dead like he did in New York but still didn't really do much, settling to shoot five three-pointers and miss them all. It baffles me to why Odom won't simply stick his butt in the paint and try a post up here and there, but, there he is, wafting around the three-point line. Boston played a zone for a lot of the minutes Odom was in, and it saddened me to see Odom hangout around the perimeter. Odom can be deadly working the baseline and flashing to either elbow in a zone with his passing and height, but it never happened. Hopefully Rick Carlisle will see this in the tape and adjust Odom's role in the zone offense. But still wish Odom would have taken some initiative.
- I wrote this down in my notes: "O'Neal blocked Vince *make an old joke later*"
- Dallas desperately misses Delonte West, but Dominique Jones is going to make the four to six weeks jones is out less stressful. He was 3-for-8, but a couple of those misses came on some wild fast break attempts once the game was decided. Jones has something that's hard to teach: court vision. He had five assists tonight and when he gets into the paint, he just knows where his teammates are and makes the appropriate pass. That sounds pretty simple, and sometimes it is, but not every guard can get to the rim and set their teammates up as easily as Jones has so early into his career. Now, that isn't to say Dallas is just fine with Jones. The Mavericks clearly take a step back when Jones and the second unit come into the game. But it could be worse, and Jones does a good enough job treading water until Kidd returns to the game.