This week was an interesting one for the Mavs. They beat the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers but were embarrassed by the lowly Detroit Pistons. They lost a game in which both teams shot under 37% and won a game in which they were outshot 44% to 35%. Positives to take away from this week? Negatives? Let's dive in.
1) Tyson Chandler (literally and figuratively)
Chandler started off the week hot in the literal sense, as he missed the Mavs' game at the Detroit Pistons with a fever-inducing illness. He returned two days later against the Los Angeles Lakers and played a gutsy 28 minutes despite still being sick. At halftime, Chandler exhibited the patently visible signs of an upset stomach, leading ESPN analysts to assume he would not return for the second half. But Chandler did return, and he was instrumental in the Mavs' 109-100 win, defending the Lakers' massive front line and contributing 10 rebounds. Chandler finished the week cool in body temperature but hot on the court, dropping a double-double against the Chicago Bulls (12 points and 12 rebounds) and a 19-point, 8-rebound performance against the New Jersey Nets.
2) Team free-throw defense
The Mavs held all four opponents this week under their season averages for free-throw attempts (FTA) per game. The Pistons average 23.3 FTA and shot 19; the Bulls average 24.8 and shot 16; the Nets average 24.1 and shot 21. But most impressively of all, the Mavs held the Lakers (the ones with Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol....you know, those guys) to just 7 FTA's, well below their season average of 24.1 Bryant himself took only two trips to the line, both of which came well into the fourth quarter.
3) Winning (finally)
Like just about everything, hot and cold are relative. By November/December 2010 standards, the Mavs' win-column exploits this week were anything but "hot." But for a team coming off its first six-game losing streak in a decade, this week's 2-2 record was cathartic. Wednesday's win over the Lakers snapped the losing streak and gave the Mavs their first impressive victory since a December 27th win at the Oklahoma City Thunder. Saturday's one-point win over the Nets was anything but impressive, but at this point the Mavs will take what they can get.
Just kidding. Snooki is disgusting. See Exhibit A, above.
1) Team offense
With the exception of the Lakers game, the Mavs' offense this week was...offensive. The Mavs opened by scoring just 89 points against a Pistons team that ranks 24th in defensive efficiency and allows 99 points per game, and it would have been even worse if not for an excellent 10-of-17 shooting performance by a hobbled Dirk. After the Lakers game, the Mavs scored 77 points in a clank-fest against the Bulls, highlighted by a smoking-hot 36% shooting performance. Not to be outdone by their own offensive ineptitude, the Mavs followed the Bulls barnburner with a 35% shooting clinic against the Nets. Welcome to (low-quality) 1980's basketball.
2) Jason Kidd & Shawn Marion's shooting
First, let's give credit where it's due: Kidd and Marion were excellent against the Lakers, contributing 21 and 22 points, respectively, on very efficient shooting. But in the week's remaining three games, both were major culprits in the Mavs' offensive woes. Against the Pistons, Bulls, and Nets, Kidd was a combined 4-of-20 (20%) from the field, including an 0-fer performance against the Pistons. Marion, meanwhile, was 6-of-23 (26%).
3) Defending bigs
Various big men of various talent levels took it to the Mavs this week. Detroit's Greg Monroe (rookie, Georgetown University) notched 16 points and 9 rebounds on 7-of-12 shooting. Pau Gasol dropped 23 points on 11-of-16 shooting. Lamar Odom (who always scores about 92 fourth-quarter points against the Mavs) tallied a cool double-double, 20 points and 10 rebounds on 8-of-14 shooting. The Bulls didn't have a big man dominate the Mavs, but that's probably because their two best ones, Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, didn't play. Finally, seven-foot monster Brook Lopez racked up 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting. Size matters.
See you next Monday.