Wednesday, April 13, 2011
My Playoff Eight
In the NBA postseason, every coach seems to settle on an eight man rotation. Let's face it: if players 9, 10, 11 and 12 get any significant minutes in the playoffs, it doesn't mean you're a deep team--it means you don't have great quality at the top of your roster. Coaches go with the eight guys (sometimes even just seven) that are their best players, and the guys they can trust in the pressure-packed world of the NBA's second season.
Guessing Rick Carlisle's playoff rotation would be difficult based on how he's handled his roster over the last two months. There has been no rhyme or reason to some of his lineups and playing-time decisions. So, this is my advice to the coach for the playoffs--my Mavericks eight for the postseason...
PG: Jason Kidd. No-brainer. Highest basketball IQ on the team. Needs to be more assertive on the offensive end, and in many ways is a key to their playoff success. The head of the snake--let's hope he's not worn out (again).
SG: Deshawn Stevenson. Did you know Stevenson shoots better from 3-pt range than Jason Terry? And, he plays defense! The playoffs are all about defense, so starting Stevenson and asking him to be this team's Bruce Bowen makes sense. He also brings some real toughness (not fake toughness, like Terry) to the floor.
C: Tyson Chandler. Will be better for Dallas if he's the Chandler of early in the season and not the Chandler of the last couple of months. Must stay out of foul trouble.
PF: Dirk. (OK, that one was really easy)
SF: Shawn Marion. Need a viable second scoring option in the starting five, plus he's a good defender. Seems to be more engaged when in the starting lineup.
G: J.J. Barea. I don't like that his size hurts A LOT on defense, but you can't deny that this guy has turned into a pretty solid backup guard. He can be a bit wild, but for the most part I trust him with the ball, and he'll at least try to get to the rim, something sorely lacking on this team.
F: Peja Stojakovic. He's shooting 40% from 3-pt range as a Mav, and he's got tons of playoff experience. He must be this team's bench scoring option. Lord help him on defense.
C: Brendan Haywood. Dallas needs him to start caring. There is too much length in the West and Chandler is too foul-prone to think that Haywood won't need to get significant minutes off the bench.
Jason Terry. Terry should have been farmed out long ago--with Dampier, Howard, Harris, Stackhouse and the others who were around for the Miami and Golden State meltdowns. What does he give you? 15 points per game off the bench--that's about 7 or 8 made shots a game (unless you need him to hit those shots at big moments in the playoffs--then he disappears). 15 ppg is nice, but what does he give up? He is such a poor defender that it's hard to figure how many baskets for the opponent he contributes to each night--but when you add that number to his high turnover rate and to whatever points the other team gets on technical fouls called on Terry, he turns out to be a negative-sum player. Plus, he's had FOUR freak-out moments in the last two weeks! He does not have a game that is postseason-friendly: he's a very poor defender, he misses clutch shots, he has a high freak-out factor, and he gives away possessions. In a moment of panic, I won't mind Carlisle giving Terry a few minutes to see if he can jump start the offense (if need be), but the more he's on the court, the worse the Mavs chances are. Ground the Jet.
Roddy Beaubois. He's had an opportunity this year, and done nothing with it. He still needs to be a big part of their future (see my previous blog post), but he should be a very small part of these playoffs. It's hard to believe how many steps backwards his game has taken this season--he looks completely lost. He's a turnover machine--and in the postseason, where every possession is like gold, you can't live with a guy like Roddy. I'll put it this way: opposing coaches in the West are begging the Mavs to play Jet and Roddy.
Corey Brewer. I'm OK with Carlisle giving Brewer a few minutes here and there for defensive help and to add some energy. But, like Terry and Beaubois, he's way too streaky to play much in this postseason. He's downright frightening to watch when he tries to handle the ball, and he still looks lost on too many nights.
The White Flag (If these guys have to play much, Mark Cuban will spontaneously combust)
I feel for Cuban and Carlisle in that this team would be better if Caron Butler were healthy. Not a title contender, but better. But, he's not here. And, for the last two months, the Mavs have stunk. They've beaten the bad teams, and they've lost to the good teams. Their defense has fallen off dramatically, and they have turned back into a jump-shooting team. There has been bickering amongst the ranks. Their body language has been terrible. They look more primed for a first round exit than ever before. So, desperate times call for desperate (and fundamentally sound) measures.
Bury Jet and Roddy--it's your only chance.