Friday, April 1, 2011

When It All Came Crashing Down

I hate to beat a two-month old dead horse with a 200-pound death hammer, but I did tweet this during halftime of tonight's Lakers/Mavericks contest:

"Maverick's have been playing horrible defense. Most Laker misses have been on LA, not Mavs' D. Blowout coming in 2nd half."

Now, pardon the Twitter grammer but Dallas was down 54-51 to Los Angeles but the warning signs were there: Lack of interior defense, secondary scoring and failure to execute from the backcourt. Once Los Angeles stopped peddling around and really turned up their defensive intensity, Dallas buckled under pressure and proceeded to be systematically picked apart.

Sound familiar? Well it should. It's a bit redundant to go over the failure of Dirk Nowitzki's teammates to provide him any support offensively because this has been the case since, well,  the entire Dirk era. Jason Terry provided a big bag full of nothing in 29 minutes, Jason Kidd provided little to stimulate any ball movement and the use and effectiveness of Rodrigue Beaubois continues to be a mystery.

There's a definite urge to get Beaubois involved in the Maverick offense, but clearly it is not working. No chemistry really exists when Beaubois is on the court and unfortunately it feels like many possessions go to waste just to feature Beaubois instead of involving Dirk or the rest of the Mavericks. I understand Rick Carlisle wanting to see his second-year guard make the impact we all believe he is capable of making, but running plays for him and alienating your MVP (and only player that showed up) isn't going to work. Part of this is definitely on Beaubois has he has still failed to grasp how to play within the offense and knowing when to pick spots.

Then there's the matter of Tyson Chandler and Dallas' interior defense. Now, no team boasts the inside scoring tandem at center and power forward like the Lakers have with Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. But to offer no resistance? At all? Chandler was completely overpowered to an extent I've never seen before (even after I've been detailing Chandler's weak individual defense for quite some time.) Bynum was pushing Chandler out of the paint and grabbing position as if Chandler was a D-League stand in. Brandon Haywood offered even less production, failing to stop Bynum or Gasol and not even grabbing more than a few rebounds. Bynum entered tonight's game shooting 61.9 percent from the floor in 14 career games against Dallas. With his 6-for-9 effort, that number continued to climb. As Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas notes, Bynum is now 15-for-21 with 40 points and 28 rebounds in his last two games against Dallas. Absolutely ridiculous.

What's worse is this is essentially what we believed the Mavericks were. The numbers were obvious as Dallas has always been towards the bottom of the league for points in the paint allowed and rebounding. This game just confirmed the worst fears we tried to keep in the recesses of our brains during this modest five game winning streak. There's nothing left for the Mavericks to do except rally from within and try to scrounge something together before the first round starts in two weeks or so.

Myself and Rob Mahoney discussed through Twitter what could have changed since the Caron Butler injury. I mentioned Gerald Wallace despite the trepidations I had before the deadline about how he would affect spacing with his poor shooting. We both agreed that while Wallace's defense and athletic ability would be nice, it likely still wouldn't cure what the Mavs need: a true perimeter scorer that can create shots on the wing. Caron Butler might have been worth more than we all thought and I only mope about failing to see how it would have rolled out with a healthy (and confident) Butler in tow.

What's such a shame is I still believe this group can grab a first round victory and compete against San Antonio. But whatever the case may be, the path to the NBA title in the West goes through Los Angeles. The Lakers are an unstoppable, pristine basketball machine right now. Not the Mavericks, Spurs or Thunder can stand in their way for a third NBA title. It's just unfortunate that this season's Mavericks showed small glimpses of providing a different ending to what is looking to be a predictable Western Conference post season.

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  1. Maybe Caron can back by the playoffs, and it probably won't matter. This team has lost any edge it had this season. I'm officially done with Terry and Haywood. They'll show glimpses of good things, but they're not worth the money they're paid. I really don't know what Cubes can do to make this team better. We don't have many trade chips. Ugh, things seem so hopeless right now.

  2. I'm already looking forward to the heartbreak kids doing it to me again.