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Two In A Row

A few days ago I used efficiency figures to illustrate that with the New Jersey Nets game the Mavericks outperformed the opposition on both the offensive and defensive end for the first time with Jason Kidd on the roster. I questioned whether the Mavericks could repeat the performance. The answer came in the way of the New York Knicks, and it is a confidence-building "yes."

The irony is that New York is so bad that doing better than expected against them is hard to do. For example, the New York defensive efficiency is a league worst 113.7. This is so bad that you'd have to deliver at a high level on offense during the whole game to do better. The Mavericks finished the game with an offensive efficiency of 114.9, which isn't that much higher than you would expect from a normal Knicks defensive performance. But they did outperform them, and that is the story here.

This is now two games in a row where the Mavericks didn't just beat up on poor competition, they did it so convincingly that the wins can clearly be considered as a positive sign.

The other team integrating a big recent trade is the Suns, and they have also had two strong wins in a row, one of them against San Antonio. We explained that the Suns win against San Antonio (and the earlier win against Boston) were not quite convincing: Whenever their defense comes through, their offense suffers. That changed against Memphis.

For the first time with Shaq on their roster the Suns have delivered a game where both their offense and defense have outperformed their opponent--but they barely did it. The Grizzlies offensive efficiency for the year is 106.0. Against the Suns it was 105.7. Also note that the bulk of the Grizzlies season included Pau Gasol, so their offensive efficiency is most certainly worse than 106.0. The bottom line: Phoenix has yet to convincingly win a game on both sides of the ball.

The Mavericks, on the other hand, are looking at pulling off three in a row.