Rebounding is part of the core system for the Mavericks. It is mixed in with defense, efficiency and health. When the effort has been there in terms of rebounding, the Mavericks have seen favorable results. "We’re doing OK with it," Coach Rick Carlisle said when addressing his team's results in the rebounding department. After going through a stretch of 10 consecutive games where they were unable to win the rebounding battle against their opponent, the Maverick have out-rebounded their opposition in seven of the last 11 games. It could be due to the opponents or just a greater emphasis has been placed in that category. The Mavericks will need to be a strong rebounding team in order to have great success in the playoffs.
Dallas ranks eighth in the league in terms of defensive rebounding with 31.7 defensive rebounds/game. They struggle to grab offensive rebounds as they only grab 9.2 offensive rebounds/game, ranking 29th in the entire league (second worst, ahead of Boston, 7.9). The Mavericks rank 17th in terms of total rebounds at 41.0 rebounds/game. When you put all of those numbers in a crock-pot and let it simmer, you come out with the fact that the Mavericks are 22-5 when they grab more boards than their opponent.
For Carlisle, rebounding is an incredibly important part of the game. "Rebounding is so important because it is one possession you have that the other team doesn’t have," Carlisle said. "In effect, each time the ball is in the air it could be a four or five-point swing." One big example of this in a recent game was against the Boston Celtics where Ray Allen had a chance to give the Celtics a 48-47 lead in the second quarter. He had a wide open three-point look and he missed it. The Mavs got the rebound and quickly ran up the floor and Jason Terry nailed a three-point basket, resulting in a six-point swing.One thing that has been a positive for the Mavericks in the rebounding department has been Tyson Chandler's ability to be a force in the paint. Chandler is averaging 9.4 rebounds/game, his best total since 2007-2008 (11.7 rebounds/game). The 9.4 rebounds total makes him the 16th best rebounder in the entire league. From an advanced statistics perspective, Chandler's true rebounding percentage is at 19.4%. The true rebounding percentage (TRB%) is as estimate of the percentage of available rebounds a player grabbed while he was on the floor. Chandler's 19.4 TRB% ranks 10th in the entire league. The big man's rebounding numbers have gotten stronger as the year has gone on. Chandler's average is close to mirroring a double-double, 10.5 points with the 9.4 rebounds.
A telling example of Chandler's value on the boards came in their last game prior to the All-Star break against the Phoenix Suns. Dallas had just six offensive rebounds, but two by Chandler came at crucial points down the stretch. On the first, he dunked and was fouled by Channing Frye for a three-point play. The second, with just over 19 seconds left, came when Chandler had a put-back basket after missing his own shot and that gave Dallas a 109-103 advantage.
Another surprising factor in the rebounding department has been Shawn Marion. Carlisle has been quick to mention that Marion's performance of the year has gone unnoticed. He has handled coming off the bench incredibly well and made the most out of the minutes that he is on the court with his defense and variety of moves on the low-block.
One part of Marion's game that probably goes unnoticed is his ability to attack the boards. He is averaging more rebounds this season, 6.6, compared to last season, 6.4, in four fewer minutes of action. His TRB% is currently at 13.9%. That is his best average in that statistic since 2008-2009 where he split his time between the Miami Heat and the Toronto Raptors (14.2%).
Dirk Nowitzki has had his ups and downs with grabbing rebounds this season (6.6 rebounds/game), but it could be due to a variety of reasons. He has had to battle with a lingering knee problem during the tail end of December and early January, getting lift has been an issue for Nowitzki. The Mavericks played more of a zone defense earlier in the season and that caters to struggling in the rebounding department. Additionally, there are better rebounding results from other players and that will affect Nowitzki's numbers. For all we known, Nowitzki could be doing the smart thing, conserving energy in the regular season. He has shown that he can rebound at a solid rate when he wants to. Everyone will just have to see what happens with those numbers coming out of the break and going forward.
From the advanced statistics perspective, Nowitzki's true rebounding percentage is at 11.2 for the season. His TRB% is also down from his previous averages. Over the last four seasons, Nowitzki's percentage hovered around 13.3.
"We’re going to have slim margins for error, even as good as we are," Carlisle concluded. "Rebounding helps mitigate those margins." For the Mavericks, it is a case of hard work equals success. Game by game, the Mavericks will look to continue getting better in every department of the game, including rebounding.
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