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Centers of Attention

Love cheesy titles...

"It's something we evaluated," Johnson said of the small starting lineup. "The times we played them, our 5s [centers] just couldn't keep up. They start two point guards, two [shooting guards] and a [small forward] and we haven't been able to make them pay on the offensive end."
I wanted to look at this a little bit more. I decided it would be best to look beyond just Golden State because of the limited sample size, so I'm going to look at this seasons games vs Golden State, Denver, Phoenix (top 3 in pace), and the final two games against Memphis (Tony Barone Era) -- four teams who really like to run. Denver doesn't play small ball, but they do play fast and that seemed to be a big part of the decision to basically bench our centers in game one.

The following is a look at the box scores and game flows from those games. It's also way longer than I intended so hit read more...

November 6th vs Golden State (Mavs lost 104-107)

  • Erick Dampier: Played 15 minutes. In three stints, the Mavs were +3, -5, +1. The one negative stint came with Dirk on the bench. He had seven points and just two rebounds.
  • DeSagana Diop: Started the game and played 13 minutes, almost all in the first half. Finished the game +4, but with zero points and just two rebounds.
  • Combined: 28 minutes, +3
November 9th @ Phoenix (Mavs won 119-112)
  • Erick Dampier: Started the game with a 3 minute -5 stint and didn't really play again until the middle of the third quarter. He played the first six minutes of the 4th, but Dallas lost a double digit lead during that time and gained it back when Devean George replaced him. Finished the game -8 and had 8 points and 7 rebounds in 17 minutes.
  • DeSagana Diop: He subbed in for Dampier after the bad three minutes in the first and had a great 7 minute stint where Dallas was +13 and he had 3 rebounds and a block. His 2nd quarter sting (-8) didn't go so well, and he played in six uneventful 3rd quarter minutes. Did not appear in the 4th. Finished +4 with 4 rebounds in 18 minutes.
  • Combined: 35 minutes, -3, 10 points, 11 rebounds.
December 9th vs Denver (Dallas won 105-90)
  • Erick Dampier: Played almost the entire first quarter in which Dallas won 41 to 25. Didn't really play again until the third quarter when Dallas was up by 20. He scored 8 points (4-5 shooting), grabbed 9 rebounds and was +10 in 24 minutes
  • DeSagana Diop: Was almost always on the court if Dampier wasn't, but never made much of an impact, bad or good. In 24 minutes, grabbed 9 rebounds scored 2 points and had a +/- of zero.
  • Combined: 47 minutes, 18 rebounds (10 offensive), 10 points, +10.
December 28th vs Phoenix (Dallas won 101-99)
  • Erick Dampier: Played intermittently in the first 3 quarters and was +11 with almost no individual production. He played the first 2 minutes of the 4th as Phoenix went on 10-0 run and Avery didn't use a center the rest of the quarter as Dallas then went on a 17-5 run.
  • DeSagana Diop: limited minutes, especially in the second half.
  • Combined: 37 minutes, 9 rebounds, 2 points, -4
December 31st @ Denver (Dallas won 89-85 w/o Dirk)
  • Erick Dampier: Great game. Played 4 longs stints, none of which Dallas lost. In 31 minutes he was +21, easily leading the team.
  • DeSagana Diop: Played four short stints, none of which went well. Easily last on the team at -17.
  • Combined: 48 minutes, 10 rebounds, 9 points, +4
January 31st @ Memphis (Dallas won 89-88)
  • Erick Dampier: Four long stints, 3 positive, but in this kind of game, by a small margin. Had one of his better scoring nights with 15 points.
  • DeSagana Diop: Didn't play many minutes, 14, but was on the court whenever Dampier wasn't.
  • Combined: 47 minutes, 15 points, 12 rebounds, +4
February 7th vs Memphis (Dallas won 113-97)
  • Erick Dampier: DNP
  • DeSagana Diop: Started in Dampier's place and only saw significant minutes in the first quarter (9 in the first and just 3 the rest of the game).
  • Combined: 14 minutes, 0 points, 1 rebound, -6 (Mbenga played 12 minutes but I'm not including him)
February 24th vs Denver (Dallas won 115-95)
  • Erick Dampier: A lot of minutes. Not a great first half, but played a large portion of the second half and was +11 during that time.
  • DeSagana Diop: Played whenever Dampier was on the bench and Dallas won all of those minutes. Matched Dampier's production in just half the minutes.
  • Combined: 48 minutes, 8 points, 14 rebounds, +24
March 12th @ Golden State (Dallas lost 117-100)
  • Erick Dampier: Started the game off with an 8 minute +8 stint. After that just had very short 2 minute stints that were all negative. Did not play in the 4th as the Warriors were up 30.
  • DeSagana Diop: Played just 7 uneventful minutes in the first 3 quarters. Played very well in the final 7 minutes when the game was already decided and both teams were resting their starters.
  • Combined: 31 minutes, 8 points, 11 rebounds, -6.
March 14th vs Phoenix (Dallas lost 127-129 2OT)
  • Erick Dampier: Had a bad 5 minute -6 stint to start the game. Didn't play again until the second half. Started the second half and had a 9 minute +11 stint (His only positive stint). Played 5 minutes in the overtimes and was slightly negative in each.
  • DeSagana Diop: Had scattered short stints throughout the game. Most were negative except for a 3 minute 11-0 run that ended the 3rd quarter. Played only 30 seconds in extra time.
  • Combined: 43 minutes (58 minute game), 13 points, 18 rebounds (16 offensive), -5
April 1st at Phoenix (Dallas lost 104-126)
  • Erick Dampier: hurt
  • DeSagana Diop: Started for Dampier and played 14 minutes in the first half (+8). In the second half, started with an 8 minute -1 stint and then played just a few minutes in the 4th quarter when then game was already over. Ended the game with a meaningless -5 2 minute stint.
  • Combined: Diop had 25 minutes, 0 points, 3 rebounds, and finished -1 (best on the team)
April 6th at Denver (Dallas lost 75-71)(only 3 quarters of data)
  • Erick Dampier: Good individually, but it didn't translate to +/-. Played 18 minutes in the first half at +1. His high minutes continued in the second half, Dampier played another 18 minutes but the team didn't do as well (-11).
  • DeSagana Diop: Only played 8 minutes, none in the 4th.
  • Combined: 45 minutes, 13 points, 18 rebounds, -1
April 17th at Golden State (Dallas tanked)
  • Erick Dampier: DNP
  • DeSagana Diop: Sat the final 18 minutes. Played well, but the +/- was obviously horrible since he was playing with the reserves.
  • Combined: Diop played 23 minutes, scored 4, grabbed 6, blocked 4, but finished at -11.
April 21st vs Golden State (Dallas lost 97-85)
  • Erick Dampier: Played two minutes at the end of the second half. Grabbed 3 rebounds, two offensive, and neither team scored.
  • DeSagana Diop: Played 16 minutes, most in the second half. At +8, was the only played not to finish in the red.
  • Combined: 18 minutes, 4 points, 9 rebounds (7 offensive), +8
Basically there is not an obvious sign in all of that Dallas suffers from playing their centers against teams that love to run. The one thing that REALLY stands out though, is the radically different approach Dallas took against the Warriors on Sunday (in terms of our centers starting and their total minutes played)

Against Those Teams in Regular Season
Dampier 25.7 7.2 7
Diop 16.46 5 2.23
Total 42.16 12 9.23

Against All Other Teams in Regular Season
Dampier 24.76 7.42 6.97
Diop 18.52 5.49 2.39
Total 43.28 12.91 9.36

Game One of the Playoffs
Dampier 2 3 0
Diop 16 6 4
Total 18 9 4