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Dirk Nowitzki and the Dive Cut

Dirk Nowitzki.
Dirk Nowitzki.

Three of the biggest buckets Dirk hit last night in the win over the Rockets weren't falling away jumpers or rainbow transition three-pointers. They weren't face up, free throw line jumpers, either.

They were dive cuts, or facsimiles thereof. Add cutting to the basket as part of Dirk's repertoire and it helped clinch the game against the Rockets last night.

Dirk received two brilliant passes in his cuts, one from Jason Terry and another from Jason Kidd. The third, I'm cheating a little, as Dirk caught the ball on the move in transition and instead of popping or spinning to the middle of the floor, he kept going to his right and got past Scola for an and-one late in the game. It wasn't a "dive cut" by the strict definition, but it was Dirk moving off the ball and toward the rim. I'll count it.

The funny part about Dirk and dive cutting is while it's a valuable weapon, it's one he rarely uses. According to Synergy Sports, in all plays ending in a field goal attempt, turnover or free throw, cutting to the basket has been employed by Dirk only 2.2 percent of the time this year. He's converting too, shooting 61.9 percent in those situations.

But the 2.2 percent is funny. It's the least likely play Dirk will make with the ball except for handling the ball on the pick and roll, an offensive rebound or (strangely) a hand off. But here's why Dirk ran to the rim down the stretch against the Rockets:

"Well I think some nights they're going to run me off the three and I felt like they were playing me tight in transition and usually Vince (Carter) is setting those screens in transition and that gets me some open 3's. I felt tonight that Luis (Scola) was really playing up and defending that play so I was able to go by him with some back cuts. Jet found me a couple times, JKidd found me for a big and one so the guys did a good job of finding me in good scoring position."

Which totally makes sense and is funny at the same time. Good for Dirk for recognizing coverages and adjusting on the fly, mid-game to help the team pull out a win. But it's funny that it took till tonight for someone to find Dirk and get to him in transition, unlike the 4 billion previous transition bombs Dirk has made.

As if Dirk wasn't a matchup nightmare from before, he appears to have a new weapon if teams really want to take away his transition three. We saw it in the playoffs last year and after last night's win, we're most likely going to see it in the playoffs again.