1. The Dallas offense is scary
One of the most fascinating storylines of the game was that the Mavericks had a similar offensive efficiency in the game as they had last year (second in the league behind Phoenix), but they did it in a completely different way. Last year, the Mavs were one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league, and this led to extended possessions and more chances to score off of isolation plays. In the Cavs game, the Mavs had much more of a movement offense, with passes both out of penetration and around the perimeter.
You may ask: If the efficiency is similar, what's the big deal? Well, the offense that we saw against Cleveland is much more flexible and difficult to stop than our offense last year, with the single biggest example being the Golden State series.
Now picture the offense you saw against Cleveland only with more offensive rebounding when Dampier returns.
2. The Mavs got bored but still demolished Cleveland
It's scary for a fan when his or her team is dismantling the opposition so easily that they get bored, allowing the opposition to sneak back into the game. But how do you explain a team that looks bored and still ends up winning by 16 points? Last night the Mavs look absolutely lazy on offense in the fourth quarter, but still had enough discipline on defense to smother any chance of a Cleveland comeback. Is this what San Antonio had last year that the Mavs were missing? Is this that killer instinct we hear people talk about--the ability to be bored and still smack around the opposition?
I like how one Cavs fan put it on the RealGM boards: "Mavs are toying with us."
3. The starters played too many minutes
This is almost an unfair criticism as three rotation players were not available: Eric Dampier, Josh Howard, and Juwan Howard. That said, one of my criticisms of Avery was that he played his starters too many minutes during the year. Last night Dirk played 37 minutes, which was actually 1 more minute than he played in the first game last year.
I fully expect the Mavs minutes to start to drop as the team gets healthy and the playing rotations start to jell, but until then I'll continue to worry about fatigue in April.
4. The Mavs didn't foul
This is a point that most fans don't appreciate, but is very important: The Mavs have been one of the worst teams in the league at fouling over the past few years. I have read statisticians over at the APBRmetrics board at Sonics Central state that the biggest difference between San Antonio and Dallas is just that: San Antonio doesn't foul the opposition very much.
So what happened last night? The Mavs didn't foul very much. Diop plays 37 minutes and ends the game with 2 fouls. As a team, the Mavs only 17 fouls. So how many did that San Antonio team that doesn't foul very much have last night? 17.
5. Dirk looked in command
It is tempting to say that Dirk was passive, shooting only 15 times and scoring 15, but that is far from the truth. Dirk played off the ball well, mooving across various spots across the floor; ran pick and rolls with Devin Harris; found open players (6 assists), and played solid D. I mentioned on the game day chat that Dirk's passing does look significantly better, and I'll repeat my bold prediction: Dirk will have at least two triple-doubles this year.
6. Jason Terry was cold-blooded
If this is the sixth man Jet we see all year, then the league is in for a world of hurt. Terry will obviously not be that hot all year, but when you consider his career 3 pt. % and how open he was for a number of those shots, he's going to be a nightmare for the opposition.
7. Diop is a defensive monster
It's not just the four blocked shots, it's Diop's ability to hold down the rim in the paint against penetrating guards and forwards. His one block toward the end of the game was a perfect indication: Diop didn't even jump but had a tremendous positional advantage as he extended his hand, blocking a guard who was driving down the paint and was guided to the baseline by Diop's presence.
8. Bass is the real deal
We finally got to see Bass play against real NBA competition, and he held his own. He looked a bit nervous, and was a little out of control, but the foundation of a strong post player were absolutely present.
9. Have the Mavs swapped places with the Spurs?
Is it just me or have the Spurs two victories looked like Mavs victories from previous years and did the Mavs victory look like a typical Spurs victory? I mean, the Spurs are playing excellent basketball, but the pace is quicker and they are giving up more points than usual. The Mavs simply bottled up Cleveland and efficiently thrashed them in a half court game.
10. Imagine this team with Josh and Juwan Howard and Eric Dampier in the line up