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Crunch Time Execution (Again) Hurts Mavericks vs. Trail Blazers

The Dallas Mavericks owned the best clutch lineup, the best clutch statistics in last years championship campaign. It's not quite the same this year. They rank 18th in Point Differential Per 100 Possessions in the Clutch (get outscored by -3.56) and yesterday they lost to a team ranking 22nd (-6.69) and 26th on offense (99.13 PP100) in the Clutch ratings. Their record in games decided by five points or less is 8-10, much worse compared to any other season under Rick Carlisle. The last two minutes of last nights overtime offer some of those plays why the Mavericks find themselves being such a mediocre team late in the game. We brake it down:

The Mavs catch a break right at the two-minute mark because the officials apparently don't think there is enough evidence to overrule a blatantly obvious out-of-bounds play (the ball clearly comes off Shawn Marion) and they run a two-man game between Dirk Nowitzki and Delonte West. This is not really a bad play, because West is eventually able to feed Marion for the hoop, but the spacing is all messed up. The strong side is loaded with West, Jason Terry and Marion. This leads to several problems. The pick and roll eventually forces the switch and Dirk has Raymond Felton on him. Dirk gets the ball, but because the area is crowded, West can't separate himself enough from Dirk to lure LaMarcus Aldridge away and so Dirk has to give up the rock again on the double. Because Terry is not located at the weak side (where Brendan Haywood lonely watches over the Blazers bench), Terry's man comes to triple team the two-man game (note that he already is on his way, not knowing that West will fumble it - they already tripled this play earlier in the fourth as well). West loses the ball, recovers well and feeds the now open Marion, because Nicolas Batum has to guard both Terry and him. As said, not a really bad play, especially given the result, but with Terry on the weak side, the Mavs would probably have been able to exploit the switch at the free throw line.

Four more plays after the jump.

Brendan Haywood forces a miss by Aldridge and again the Mavs play the high pick and roll between Dirk and West. The switch comes (this time Terry IS located on the weak side) and West does a good job luring Aldridge away from the play by cutting to the basket, which also would have been possible on the previous play given the right spacing. Dirk has Felton on him and... passes to Marion, who misses a tough runner off the glass? It looks like Dirk wanted the ball back, but either way I have to agree with Skin here that there was no need to go away from that mismatch.

As you might guess, this is nearly my favorite: A Jason Terry pull-up jumper in transition. Let's forget Felton splitting the pick and roll and thankfully tanking missing the layup for a second, but I'm sorry Derek Harper, it might have been a good look, but not a good shot. Freeze the video at 0:09/0:10 when Terry's shot hits the rim. You have two seven footers and Marion in or entering the paint against two Portland defenders and you want to tell me that you can't get a layup out of that? Aldridge is trailing the play so you have numbers. I mentioned before that Terry's FG% in transition is among the worst on the team and this is exactly why.

No explanation needed. Followill is in complete disbelief. Me too. Can happen, but probably wouldn't last year, no?

It's about the foul the Mavs had to give and Terry took. Others instantly noted it on twitter and I agree: This is as dumb as it gets. There are four seconds left in the game, Felton collects a loose ball going away from the basket beyond the arc and it would probably have resulted in a wild attempt from way downtown. Instead, the Blazers take the timeout, set up Aldridge, who then went on draining the game-winner. It's frustrating, but to come to Terry's defense, these decisions are made in split seconds. He was probably aware of the foul to give and unfortunately completely mistimed it. Again: Happens.

Nuff said.

Be better tonight.