Shawn Marion, meditating.
It's extremely likely that Rick Carlisle will go with Rodrigue Beaubois in the starting lineup again, pushing Vince Carter to the three. Marion has been one of the Mavericks best rebounders and has been clearly their best perimeter defender this season. He's held Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul to very mediocre numbers. And he was causing quite a case for some All-Defensive votes from his owner in the last month or so.
And against Denver, you'd think the already shorthanded Dallas team could use Marion's rebounding and athleticism against an up-and-down, quick Denver squad. True, the Nuggets are one of the best rebounding teams in the league and they feature plenty of perimeter scorers, but Marion's absence really isn't all that bad. Bare with me.
Marion's been pretty downright awful on offense the last three weeks. I mean, disgustingly bad. Marion has just shot above 50 percent once (ONCE!) since Feb. 20. For a player that mainly does all his damage around the basket, that number just amplifies. He's shooting 36.7 percent from the 3-9 foot range according to hoopdata.com, a place he usually makes a killing with his runners and floaters.
Luckily, Marion brings a lot more to the table than his quirky but effective (if not lately) offense. But everything appears to be a struggle for Marion right now. He's exerted so much injury into guarding the opposing team's best player, sometimes a faster point guard, that he's just exhausted. He's averaging a tick over 30 minutes per game and he's played in every game until now. Marion might be officially out with a sore left knee, but I wouldn't be surprised that if injury reports told the dead honest truth, it might list it as "Marion, out – pooped." The dude looks beat, if you catch my drift.
So take some time to rest up, Shawn. He's still a vital part to the Mavericks success but as last night showed, having Carter be the three man in the crunch time lineups creates even bigger problems for opposing defenses. Even if Carter isn't raining threes, the threat of his shooting and his passing touch add a considerable amount to the Mavericks clutch-time play. Expect the game against the Nuggets to be close and we might get to see Carter and the Mavericks close the game out with brutal offensive precision again.