OSCAR Ties to Mavericks Storylines
By Mike Fisher
This weekend was a fine time to watch Dirk in the All-Star Game while contemplating the Mavs’ second half … or a fine time to watch the Oscars while contemplating the best in film … or, why not combine the two with my Evaluation of the Mavs’ 10 Issues at the Break — Oscars-Style?
All 2012 Mavs issues. All 2012 Academy-Award-nominated films. Somebody pop the popcorn …
1: The Artist Dirk remains one of the 10 finest basketball players on the planet.
In the 11 games since Barkley’s maddening “Dirk is Done” proclamation, The UberMan is at 25.4 points, 48.5 FG percentage, 37.8 3-point percentage, 8.4 rebounds, .8 blocks, .8 steals, 2.4 assists, 1.9 TOs and (subpar for him) 83.8 percent from the line.
“I feel good now,” said Dirk.”I’m back.”
2: The HelpJason Terry leads a Dallas bench that has consistently been among the top three in the NBA so far this season. The Mavs also without doubt one of the three deepest teams in the league as well. But ultimately, this bench is Jet’s bench. And Terry’s struggling on the road has become a trend.
Home: 18 games – 16.9 points, 51.1 FG%, 44 3PT%, 3.6 assists, 2.1 rebounds, 2.1 TOs
Road: 14 games – 12.0 points, 33.2 FG%, 31.1 3PT%, 3.9 assists, 2.2 rebounds, 2.1 TOs
3: War Horse Of Jason Kidd and his “minutes limit,” coach Rick Carlisle says, “We want to be vigilant about it. You never say never, but right now we’ve been pretty consistent with it.”
The goal is to keep Kidd, at age 38, below 30 minutes a game. Vigilant? Yes, as Kidd is averaging a career-low 28.3 minutes per game.
4: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close Lamar Odom represents this year’s most high-profile NBA bust.
“I would love for Lamar to be the kind of high-impact player that he is supposedly advertised as being,” Carlisle says.”But the truth is, he has been a consistent player.”
Rick is being kind — and “kindness” is what the ex-Lakers standout requires. “In need of constant validation” is what a source close to Lamar tells me about him, and while he needs validation, it would be nice if he’d give the Mavs something … anything … back in return.
5: Midnight in Paris The Mavs’ French Connection, Roddy Beaubois and Ian Mahinmi, represents a great deal of promise. But that promise might end up being realized elsewhere.
The French Connection will be Mavs assets in one form or another. They are players now, they are prospects even in the future, they can serve as bait in The 3D Blueprint or they can remain in Dallas as part of the affordable supporting cast necessary to make expensive acquisitions affordable.
6: WarriorThere have been enough ups and downs, even in a successful 21-13 first half that puts Dallas
lose enough to a pace for the 61-percent wins that equate to a 12th straight 50-win seasons, to deeply ponder individual grades.
But for certain, Rick Carlisle’s coaching staff gets that ‘A.’
7: The Tree of Life Everything Dallas has done defensively this year — and what the Mavs have done there is create a new “identity,” as Carlisle says, as the NBA’s No. 1 team in FG percentage allowed, is rooted in the work of Shawn Marion.
8: Drive Marion gets to the hole; he’s in the top 20 in the NBA when it comes to shot attempts inside 10 feet. Vince Carter can drive and finish and has done so consistently. Delonte does it. Roddy B can do it. And watch Dirk in the second half: I confidently predict he will increasingly work his way to the basket, his spinning layups joining his One-Legged Euro Fade-Away as Dirk Trademarks.
But a vignette from the Lakers loss keeps flashing through my mind: In the fourth quarter of that game, with the traditional terrific free-throw-shooting Mavs in the bonus … the Mavs settled for bombs, taking only two shots in the paint in the final 12 minutes.
9: Beginners We have to remind ourselves occasionally that while it’s fun to unwrap new toys, the established toys you have work just fine. Consider very seriously Carlisle’s remark going into the break:
“We’re playing playoff-style,” he says. “The team that has the best defense and flow game wins the championship. That’s the history of this league in the last 10 years. That’s how we did it last year, and that’s how we’re going to have to do it this year.”
This is a team with a purpose. The purpose isn’t to unveil new toys. The purpose is to ready the established toys. The purpose is to get to the Tournament.
10: Moneyball One of my favorite NBA games is “Asset Management.’’ We are blessed to be able to study a Dallas Mavericks front office with a mastery of it to match our fascination with it.
In the case of Cuban, Donnie, Keith Grant and the rest, I truly believe they gobbled up the new CBA and its implications as efficiently and as effectively as possible. And then they took a bold and proper stand: We are coming into The Era of the SuperTeam. You are either going to play by SuperTeam rules or you are destined to be an also-ran.
The Mavs are preparing for The SuperTeam Era (Plan A) while also attempting to position themselves for a run at repeating as champions. (Plan A2? Plan B?) It’s the simultaneous operation of two distinctly different plans, some might say “conflicting” plans. But they are working. Both plans are working.