David Lee joined the Mavericks one week ago. After the Mavericks' overtime win against the Denver Nuggets on Friday, a question posed to Lee mentioned the fact that they've now played 10 overtime games this season. "Wait, 10 overtimes!?" asked an incredulous Lee. Look, we feel you, man.
Take those 10 such games and apply some elementary math -- ten times five minutes is 50 minutes; shoutout to Mrs. Campbell! -- to realize all these overtimes have added up to another full game. It's actually a little bit more than that, even: the Jan. 5 win against the Kings took two overtimes, so the total number of extra periods is technically 11. But for simplicity, we'll just take the first ones. Anyway, the point is this: if the Mavericks only played in overtime, they'd be the best team in the NBA.
In 50 first overtime minutes, the Mavericks have outscored opponents 126-106. They shoot a blistering 53 percent from the floor and 55 percent from behind the arc, with just nine turnovers. They only allow opposing teams to shoot 41 percent from the floor and 31 percent from behind the arc. The results is a 7-3 record in overtime games, which the Mavericks will happily take despite two painful dropped games to Cleveland and Utah included in that figure.
Why are the Mavericks as good as they are in overtimes?
In general, the quality of opponent has been slightly worse in the games that Dallas has played overtimes -- Minnesota, Sacramento, Portland prior to them heating up. And between Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams' knack for hitting clutch shots, plus a little Raymond Felton on the side, Dallas has come out clearly ahead.
Beyond that, it might just be as simple as Dallas making shots and their opponents not. Sometimes, with a small sample size of 50 or 55 minutes, the explanation is as simple as that.
Will the extra minutes weigh down Dallas?
The Mavericks have a few older players they rely on nightly and fewer minutes for them is always preferred. Dirk Nowitzki, in particular, is playing 31 minutes per game despite Rick Carlisle saying before the season he'd prefer him around 26 on a nightly basis. It would similarly be nice if the injury prone 31-year-old Deron Williams was playing fewer than 32 minutes, and perhaps that would be possibly without the overtimes.
But in general, the overtimes likely have a negligent impact on Dallas' players. The overtime games on the first night of a back-to-back has lead to Carlisle benching starters who played heavy minutes the following night. It's also led to the Mavericks cancelling practices and shootaround for their players more rest. Game minutes are strenuous, of course, but an even bigger component of an NBA season's wear and tear comes from the travel, which an overtime period here or there doesn't affect.