The Dallas Mavericks are on a roll, winning their sixth straight game, this time over the Utah Jazz 102-93. Deron Williams played perhaps his best game of the season, scoring 23, dishing 8 helpers, grabbing 6 rebounds, and notching three steals. Gordon Hayward led Utah in defeat with 22 points and 7 rebounds.
The Mavericks got off to a slow start before building a 20 point lead in the third quarter. Utah ground down the margin before Dallas finally closed the door late in the fourth quarter.
Zaza is the most important Maverick right now
It's hard to know where to start with Zaza Pachulia. He's the rock of Dallas right now, anchoring a surprising defense (8th in the NBA in defensive rating!) while serving as a strong option on the pick and roll for the offense. Against the Jazz he was in the heads of both Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors early, crashing the boards on both ends with a fervor and getting up quality looks on the offensive end. He nearly posted a double-double in the first half, scoring 10 points and grabbing 9 boards.
One thing Zaza Pachulia is just absurdly good at is keeping his balance and his pivot foot down after a pump fake on a post move. So many big men get "happy feet" (sliding the pivot foot or jumping just so) and get called for the travel. Refs look for it. Not Zaza. He has such patience and strength that all of the jostling during post play doesn't bother him. It's just a lot of fun to watch.
I knew he'd be a solid option at center, but I had no idea he would be this good. He just fits and he's helping the Mavericks thrive during what could have been a very challenging month.
The Mavericks' offensive patience is impressive
For what feels like the millionth season, the Mavericks are incorporating a host of new players into Rick Carlisle's system. On offense, you wouldn't think that to be the case as of late. Watching these high IQ players read and react to the defense is fun.
The Jazz are in the upper echelon of NBA defensive teams, tied for fifth best defensive rating in the NBA coming into this game. Deron Williams scored the first points of the game getting all the way to the rim as Utah overplayed Dirk's screen. Chandler Parsons posted up on the wing, took one hard dribble baseline drawing Rudy Gobert, and flipped a quick pass to Zaza for a lay in. Raymond Felton gunned a pass from the top of the key to the post to Dwight Powell for an and-one. I could keep going.
These were by no means "easy" looks, but they were smart, effective plays all of which came within the flow of the offense. It's a lot of fun to watch.
The "Three Guard Lineup" is a horrifying necessity
If you're anything like me, you spent part of the third and much of the fourth cursing coach Rick Carlisle for sticking with J.J. Barea when the Maverick offense went cold and Utah went on a run. Sometimes it feels like Barea must have something on Carlisle for him to keep getting minutes despite his wildly uneven play. The truth of the matter is Barea has played better these last four games.
The other truth is that Carlisle really doesn't have a choice. With Chandler Parsons on minutes restrictions, Carlisle doesn't have that many options. He could (and in my opinion, he should) play rookie Justin Anderson more. Perhaps that will come more as the season progresses. Yet for now, Carlisle is stuck in his ways, insisting on Barea. It would have been nice to see a bit more Raymond Felton, but it's been proven over the long run that Carlisle knows exactly what he's doing.
Eventually, Parsons minutes will increase, but expect this to continue for the remainder of the calendar year.
Dallas will not continue to shoot the three this badly
Coming into the game the Mavericks were 25th in the NBA in terms of three point percentage, hitting 31% of attempts. They shot just 8 of 28 (29%) from beyond the arc against Utah.
Deron Williams is a career 36% three point shooter. Dirk Nowitzki hits at a 38% clip. Wesley Matthews is an excellent career three point shooter at 39%. Handsome Chandler Parsons is pretty good at 37%. Charlie Villanueva, a key player last year, has hit 35% of his threes during his time in the NBA. Even Devin Harris shoots above the team's percentage, hitting 32% for his career.
Something has to give at some point and it will. Devin Harris, Deron Williams, and Charlie Villanueva are the main culprits at the moment, though J.J. Barea and Raymond Felton are tossing up their fair share of bricks. Williams showed some life beyond the arc against Utah, hitting three of seven attempts. The team percentage will improve eventually.
Green means GO
Unlike the blah skyline uniforms, the green throwbacks this evening were just fantastic. More of those please.
Dirk daggers are a rewarding experience and I would like them to continue to happen for all time.