Sunday, March 28, 2010
A Clearer Picture of the Mavs
This recent, short, two-game road trip crystallized a couple of things for me about this Mavs team. In particular, two players actions spoke volumes about how much post-season playing time they should get. I will be forwarding this blog post to Rick Carlisle, in the hopes that he heeds my sage advice.
Thursday night in Portland, one moment stood out. It told us all we need to know about Erick Dampier. First quarter, Blazers guard Andre Miller has the ball. Miller drives the lane. Dampier is standing in between Miller and the rim. Miller decides to take the ball right at Dampier. What does Big Damp do? HE TRIES TO TAKE A CHARGE!! That's right, the biggest man on the court planted his 7'0, 265 pound body down low and tried to draw a charge from a 6'2, 200 pound point guard. Amazing. Oh, and by the way, Miller made the layup while Damp was called for a block. And-one for Miller. Nice.
First of all, I can't recall ever seeing a center try to take a charge from a point guard. You rarely see a center try to take a charge from anyone. Centers, when attacked, are supposed to do one of three things: 1) try to block the shot 2) stand tall with your arms straight up to form a wall (not with your arms at your side like Dampier played it) 3) try to murder the guy. Attempting to draw a charge is a tactic usually reserved for smaller players who have no hope of stopping the incoming attack, and is certainly never an option for a center when trying to stop someone half his size.
It's no coincidence that Rick Carlisle took Erica out of the game after that play. Erica has not seen the court since. She got 8 minutes against Portland, and a DNP-coach's decision against Golden State. I hope that, at that moment, Carlisle realized he's got a wuss in Dampier. And nobody wants to go into the playoffs with a wuss getting quality minutes. As Jerry, a good P1 with a good basketball brain said to me, "It was the worst thing I've ever seen on a basketball court, and Damp should be buried on the end of the bench for it!"
The Portland game looked like any game from the Denver playoff series last year. The game was too fast and too athletic for Dampier. He doesn't know how to impose what little will he has in a battle like that. Give me lots of Haywood (or hell, even Najera, who at least cares) over any glimpse of Dampier.
Saturday night in Oakland, the Mavs took apart the Warriors. Roddy Beaubois went off, scoring 40 points on 15-22 shooting and 9-11 from behind the arc. It must be noted that Golden State is the worst defensive team in the NBA--Don Nelson is their coach, so of course they are. But, 40 points is 40 points. Beaubois is the Mavs' most electrifying player. He's the best on the team at getting to the rim. He is the player on the roster that, outside of Dirk, strikes more offensive fear in the hearts of opponents than anyone else.
Beaubois has convinced me--he deserves playoff minutes. He should get 20-25 minutes every night from here on out during the regular season, no matter how he looks. He should then get JJ Barea's postseason minutes. If I'm Carlisle, I'm going to win or lose with my best players. Barea is not one of his best players. Beaubois might be. You're not going to beat the Lakers or (fill in whichever team you want: Portland, Utah, Denver) with Barea getting significant minutes. Barea on the floor causes other teams to salivate over the possibilities of mismatches. Beaubois on the floor makes other teams nervous. Give me the latter.
I realize Roddy is a rookie. He looks lost at times--on both ends of the floor. But he's got loads of ability. He's 6'1-ish, but plays taller. Barea is 4'11, and plays shorter. Coaches don't usually don't like to play rookies in the playoffs, but what do the Mavs have to lose? They are not the West favoites, so why not?
There are some other issues with this team that will greatly impact what kind of a playoff run they are able to make. Dirk, Jet and Kidd still have obvious defensive weaknesses that may be hard to hide. Haywood's recent decline in production makes you wonder. Butler has been good one game, bad the next. The adrenaline shot from the trade with the Wiz has worn off. Many problems to solve, but they're not the only good team with problems. I'll blog more about those issues closer to the playoffs.
But we can start here: more minutes for Roddy B, fewer minutes for JJ, and zero minutes for Erica. Coach Carlisle, you've been advised.