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Celtics vs. Mavs: A marathon loss

You would think a 2OT game on national TV would be a compelling and well-played basketball game. You would be wrong.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
  • A game can be close because both teams refuse to lose ... or because they refuse to win. The Mavs 117-115 2OT loss to the Celtics probably falls more towards the second category. Dallas had 27 turnovers to only 13 for Boston; they really had no business being in this game at all.
  • The big move, strategically, was going super-small in the fourth quarter and OT's. Shawn Marion, at 6'7, was playing at the 5, with Vince/Mayo/Fisher/Collison on the perimeter. That is really not a line-up that should be effective in the closing minutes of an NBA game. It points out Boston's biggest weakness: they have no front-line to speak of outside of KG and he's too old to play the type of minutes he would need to make up for it.
  • Turnovers were the big story on the Mavs end. This is where Dirk's absence is really felt: they had no one who could consistently create 1-on-1 offense against Boston. The problem with Mayo is that he doesn't have the explosiveness to get past guys like Rondo off the bounce, and if you try to run a pick-and-roll, he has a hard time seeing over the big man who traps him. In short, he's undersized and not particularly athletic for his position as a 6'4 SG with a 6'6 wingspan. He's still the Mavs best player right now, but let's not get too carried away.
  • Darren Collison had a strong outing: 20 points on 8-11 shooting and 6 assists, although he did have an unsightly 7 turnovers. When he's in the game, he has to be pushing the ball up the floor, because he's much less effective in the half-court. That's why he's better suited as a back-up PG, so he can run a second unit that speeds up the tempo of the game rather than asking him to be a starter, where he needs to focus more on getting everyone the ball.
  • That being said, is Derek Fisher the answer as your starting PG? If you listened to Jeff Van Gundy and Mike Breen, you would sure think so. It's really irritating to hear announcers over praising a guy for "being a professional", especially when they're no longer good basketball players. Fisher gets the Mike Young treatment basically.
  • The crazy part about how Fisher has played in his first few games in Dallas is this about his ceiling as a player. At 38, he's not going to become a better rebounder, distributor, defender or interior scorer as the year goes on. The only value he has is knocking down 3's and not turning it over. He was 4-12 from the field and 2-3 from 3: he better keep hitting those 3's or he's going to be useless.
  • Another guy out there stealing minutes is Elton Brand. The 4 turnovers he had were just terrible; it was a lot of bungled plays. He's really not capable of playing the 4 anymore; he's an undersized 5 with a very inconsistent jumper. That's all he really brings to the table at this point. He's just not athletic enough to be much of a defensive presence at the rim and he's too short to stick guys like KG in the post.
  • I don't see how he's getting playing time over Bernard James. James scores more points and does it more efficiently, blocks more shots and commits fewer personal fouls and rebounds about the same. Rick Carlisle's desire to give veteran players tenure and not divvy out playing time based on performance has cost and will continue to cost the Mavs dearly.
  • Think about it: of course James is playing better! He's a 27-year old in the prime of his athletic career whose put very few miles on his body in terms of playing high-level basketball; in contrast, Brand is a 34-year old whose playing in his 14th season in the NBA. Just watch him run the floor sometimes; he's really laboring out there. I'd prefer if Dallas didn't become the place where old veterans on their very last legs play until they're washed up. It's sad to watch sometimes.
  • Here's a fun statistic: when Brandan Wright plays 20+ minutes a game, Dallas is 7-2. When he plays less than 20, they are 4-9. Look at the two best stretches of the season for the Mavs: their 4-1 start to the year and their recent 3-game winning streak: guess who was starting most of those games and making a big contribution? There's a reason he has the highest PER on the team; it's not a mirage: he's a hyper-efficient offensive player who blocks shots. Dallas needs both those things desperately. Wright got 5 minutes of run tonight.
  • Dahntay Jones is the third guy currently stealing minutes in the Dallas rotation right now. He does have his uses as a spot defensive stopper, but he's too offensively limited to give consistent minutes because teams can really game-plan around him. He's shooting 33% from the field and 20% from 3; those are just unacceptable numbers.
  • Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of options on the bench either. Please tell me somebody saw this: they were doing a "Mic'd Up" bit with Jason Terry and he walks over to the Mavs bench, where Vince Carter and Dominique Jones are set to check in. He yells at Vince -- "[Jones] is going to need to make a jumper. Has he been practicing?" And Vince just goes "No". It was such an exasperated/condescending "No" too, like "Yea I know it's crazy, this dude is about to fall out of the NBA because he can't hit a jumper and he isn't working on his game".
  • The Jet didn't have his best game against his old team, as he scored 10 points on 3-10 shooting. He did chip in a solid bit of play-making with 3 assists and zero turnovers, but if he's not knocking down 3's, he's not helping his team out much anymore. He'll be moved back to the bench when Avery Bradley returns and that's a better fit for him.
  • The Big Picture:
  • Dallas (11-11) really needs the win on Friday against Toronto. This is a tough way to start a road trip because everyone's legs are shot right now, especially the older guys. They play the Wolves on Saturday in what could be Ricky Rubio's first game back: that would be a tough game regardless, but make it the getaway game of a road trip and the second night of a back-to-back and that's probably a loss. With the way the schedule turns over the next few weeks, you've got to bank a win against a team like Toronto. Carlisle can feel free to start playing his most effective line-ups at any time, but I'm not holding my breath.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.