It was the fourth quarter, before things went to hell on Sunday afternoon, that Jae Crowder drilled a three-pointer and then followed it up with a steal, leading to another bucket.
It was such a glorious moment, one of our own proclaimed what I thought to be true:
THE CROWDER GAME— Hal Brown (@HalBrownNBA) April 20, 2014
The Crowder Game. This was Jae's moment, the much maligned Maverick who's either loved for his hustle and intangibles or hated for his colder than cold shooting numbers and proclivity for playing a lot of minutes and not getting any stats.
He played just 12 minutes on Sunday, but they were a fantastic 12 minutes. He was two-of-two from three, grabbed four rebounds, had a steal and blocked a shot. To put that in perspective, Crowder's per-36 numbers are 1.7 threes-made, around five rebounds, one steal and half a block. HE PRETTY MUCH MATCHED AND/OR DWARFED HIS PER-36 PRODUCTION IN 12 MINUTES. IN THE PLAYOFFS. AGAINST THE SPURS. ON THE ROAD.
Crowder is part of my favorite Mavs lineup (my Mavs boner lineup) -- the one with Crowder, Dirk Nowitzki, Devin Harris, Vince Carter and Brandan Wright. The reason I like that lineup is simple: IT MURDERS TEAMS TO DEATH.
Of the Mavs five-man lineups that have played at least 100 minutes together, that lineup is easily the best. It scores at a rate of 115.4 points per 100 possessions and only allows 88.8. That's a net-rating of 26.6. Of the other 100-minute, five-man lineups, the starting-five is the next best with a 1.6 net rating. Granted, the starting lineup has about 700-ish minutes on my favorite one but still, LOOK AT THOSE NUMBERS.
Anyway, all of Crowder's 12 minutes came within that lineup. And lo and behold, the Mavs crushed the Spurs when they used it. I've talked about this lineup before, but in short, Crowder does so well in it because he isn't counted on to score or be the main defender. Dirk, Harris, Wright and Carter are all there for scoring and Carter can handle the bigger wings while Harris the quicker guys on defense.
That allows Crowder to just hang back and do the little things he does so well. What little things? HOW ABOUT SOME MOTHERF***ING BOXING OUT.
Look at that box out. It's glorious. I can't stop watching. Crowder busted his ass those 12 minutes, knocked down his open threes and did things like that up above. The Mavs started the fourth quarter tied at 65. It opened the fourth with the MURDERING DEATH lineup and took an 81-71 lead with it.
So that begs the question, why stop a good thing? Well for one, playing one lineup the entire fourth quarter seems unwise for obvious reasons and of course Rick Carlisle had to get Monta Ellis back into the game. But should he have? Ellis wasn't particularly great on Sunday anyway.
And while it sure seemed like the Mavs lead began to crumble as soon as Carlisle put Ellis back in and took away the MURDERING DEATH lineup, that's not all the way true. The Spurs' run started with Crowder still in the game, as Tim Duncan made back-to-back buckets, cut the lead to 81-75 and then Carlisle made the switch. Watching the game, it sure seemed like the Spurs were making that run, MURDERING DEATH lineup or not.
The real question is why doesn't that lineup see more burn in other parts of the game? Was DeJuan Blair's utterly pointless five minutes in the first half really necessary? I feel like the Mavs should have gone to that lineup sooner while the offense was floundering. Indeed, that lineup did check into the game and it helped push the Mavs back into it before halftime.
So look for that in Game 2. And yes, you just read an entire Mavs Moneyball article praising Jae Crowder. PLAYOFF FEVER. CATCH IT.