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Mavericks Have Plenty of Reinforcements Off the Bench

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Going back to training camp, Rick Carlisle expressed a need for his bench players to step up to the challenge and show that the team truly has quality depth. With the way the team is constructed, the coach believes that should not be an issue. "Our team is structured to have a really good bench," Carlisle said. "We need a lot of productivity from them. We need them to provide balance to our starters. We don’t necessarily start our five best players. So, when we sub, we expect to get better, at least offensively." The team has responded as they continue to get strong scoring performances off of the bench. 

The Mavs bench is currently averaging 37.2 points/game, which is ranked 4th best in the NBA. "We’ve got the best bench in basketball, there is no question," Jason Terry said. "Nobody is putting up 50-plus points from the bench in the league." The team has seen three of its best bench scoring results within the past 10 games. On January 25 against the LA Clippers, the Mavs bench made up 66 of the 112 points in the victory (a season-high for bench scoring). They followed that up by contributing 60 of the 99 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers on February 7. They were not done as they contributed 58 of the 102 points against the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday.  The Dallas bench is averaging 59.0 points per game over the last two games.

"Our bench has been consistent now for about a month and a half, and that’s what we need going forward," Terry said. "Early on, we struggled trying to find our identity with who we are and our roles. But now we’re comfortable in our roles and everybody pretty much knows when they’re going in and what’s expected." The Mavericks are 11-1 when Jason Terry scores 20-plus points in a game this season.

When the main unit off of the bench (JJ Barea, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion and pick your back-up center), defense can be an issue at times. "We’re holding our own," Terry said. "We are a little undersized when we come in with that bench unit." The starters like to use their defense to trigger the offense, that might not be the case for the bench.  With players like Barea, Terry and Marion, the bench can be scrappy but they tend to use their offense to trigger their defense.

Things could get interesting in the next few weeks. Roddy Beaubois is practicing and should return to the team closer to the trade deadline. With Beaubois returning to the lineup, there is a possibility that he could eventually become the starting shooting guard. Before the season, the thought was that position was open for him coming into the season. DeShawn Stevenson has done a great job as a dual threat at the two-guard position. The newest Maverick, Peja Stojakovic has started the last two games at the small forward position. 

With Beaubois coming back, what exactly do you do with the rotation? If you start Beaubois, do you move Shawn Marion into the starting lineup? That would alter the dynamics you have built over the course of the season with Marion and Terry coming off of the bench. Who has their minutes cut with Beaubois coming back in the mix?

Barea has played great basketball since January 1. His performance against the Kings was nothing short of spectacular. 15 of his 20 points came in the fourth quarter alone, which tied a career-high for points in the final period (also 15 versus Denver on March 27, 2009). The Mavericks are 3-1 when Barea scores 20-plus points in a game. Beaubois does bring the same skill-set as Barea but the French guard can do much more with it. Barea is pulling off his best Beaubois impression with his performance as of late. There are two nice articles out there in the blogosphere if you're looking to dive in deeper in the Barea/Beaubois debate. Jeff "Skin" Wade has his ESPNDallas.com piece here and there is a piece by Rob Mahoney has a story, courtesy of the NY Times NBA Blog, here. 

There will be some questions to answer in regards to how the starting lineup and bench rotation will work out. One thing is for certain, the bench is a major asset for the Mavericks. Dallas is 29-7 when its bench outscores the opposing team’s reserves. The Mavericks are 25-2 when at least two reserves score in double figures and 6-0 when three-plus subs score 10-plus points.

 

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