On Monday, before the Mavericks finally snapped their five-game losing streak by finally changing up their rotations against the Charlotte Hornets, I wrote about how the Mavericks should finally change up their rotations against the Charlotte Hornets. The ideas weren't groundbreaking, and seeing Rick Carlisle make some of the changes suggested was mostly inevitable after such a bad stretch of games. As a natural follow up, I just have a few thoughts about Monday's rotation, how it related to my suggestions and what we might see going forward.
1. Raymond Felton started, not David Lee
Carlisle went directly to small ball against Charlotte, who starts Cody Zeller and Marvin Williams as their primary two bigs. That's already pretty small and Zeller isn't a post scorer, so there weren't any concerns about immediately putting Dirk on the big man. I'm not certain Felton stays there forever, because against bigger teams, you'll need Lee right away (and I'm not ruling out Pachulia, either, though the next five games don't seem like matchups where he'd be needed). Overall, though, a change was needed, and Felton moving in works well enough for me.
2. The opening three rotations were A+++
This was excellent.
so Deron-Felton-Matthews-Parsons-Dirk— Tim Cato (@tim_cato) March 14, 2016
three good lineups
3. Felton and Barea didn't play together all game
Beyond benching Pachulia, this was the biggest change I wanted to see. Barea and Felton simply don't coexist well together, and against Charlotte, the two never shared the floor together. There will be some nights where Barea is a better option than Felton as a penetrating guard, and some nights where Felton will have to play because Kemba Walker is pulling up right in Barea's face because he's too short to contest him. But they cannot play together anymore, and if Monday was any indication, Carlisle has learned that.
4. Justin Anderson sighting!
Yessssss! Look at this bad motherf'er.
Although Anderson scored just one point (and a nice drive that probably should have been an and-one), that block above, three rebounds and another moment where he scrapped on the floor for a steal should keep him in the rotation going forward. He has the potential to be a better spot-up shooter than Felton, Barea or Harris, and is already a better defender than all three. I personally would have brought him back in late in the third quarter for a three-minute stint, but either way, it's nice to see the Mavs rookie doing some things.
5. Pachulia did play five minutes in the third
I was a bit surprised Carlisle's adjustments were so drastic in the first half, when Pachulia didn't even enter the game. That said, it was the right call. It didn't look like Pachulia would play at all until David Lee got in foul trouble in the middle of the third quarter, and during Pachulia's five minutes and 11 seconds of playing time, the Mavericks were minus-6.
Here's the thing: if Pachulia wasn't going to be in the rotation against Charlotte, I don't know when he'll play next. Al Jefferson is ideally the type of big, hulking center you'd want Pachulia guarding, but the Mavericks opted to just double team him quickly and heavily, which mostly worked. Anyway, despite people talking about how Pachulia is a good post defender, he still let Jefferson drop 31 points in Charlotte's other meeting early in the season against Dallas.
This may be the end for Pachulia. His minutes have steadily been declining, and he'll still get in games when Carlisle wants that veteran presences, but the Charlotte game seemed to indicate that he is no longer a rotation player. Unfortunately, that's what's best for the Mavericks.
6. When I would have subbed Anderson back in
Specifically, the 3:34 mark of the third quarter, when Deron Williams came out. Instead, Wesley Matthews went back in, after getting a quick hook just four minutes into the frame. Either way, I'm not terribly upset, but if Anderson was going to get back in, that would have been the moment.
7. It will be hard to take Chandler Parsons off the floor
As Dirk Nowitzki plays more center and Dallas keeps Felton and Barea apart, Parsons is so, so important to all of these lineups. I was surprised to see he only played 37 minutes on Monday, but expect that number to reach into the 40's during this final month of the NBA season. As much as the Mavericks are trying to make the playoffs, they're trying to convince Parsons to return this summer, too. He's their best overall player (and possibly their best player, period, though damn Dirk is still making that hard) and he'll only play better as Dallas puts him in these small ball lineups with space and a roll man in Lee. Going all in on Parsons is the only smart play Dallas has left.