Facing off against the Mavs

Essentials

  • Teams: Dallas Mavericks (27-33) at Detroit Pistons
  • Date: March 8, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

The Dallas Mavericks will stroll into the Palace of Auburn Hills tonight to take on the Detroit Pistons. The Mavs are coming off a home victory over the Houston Rockets and will be looking to win back-to-back games.

Dallas is still in the playoff hunt although they need several things to go right for a postseason berth to manifest itself. The absence of Dirk Nowitzki earlier in the season made it tough for Rick Carlisle and company to manufacture wins as evidenced by their sub-.500 record.

February was their best stretch of basketball this year. The Mavs won 6-of-11 games and posted their only winning month of the season. This obviously ties in with the former NBA Finals MVP.

Nowitzki averaged 18 points and 8.5 rebounds per game on 45.4 percent field goal shooting in February for a team that relies almost exclusively on mid-range jump shots.

In Shawn Marion, Vince Carter and Elton Brand, the Mavericks have a lot of players with great names. At one point or another, all of these athletes were All-Stars and projected to have amazing careers. Even O.J. Mayo to some extent was seen as a talent that would be difficult for opponents to handle in the NBA.

But that’s just it: we look at the Mavs player for what they should be as opposed to what they are.

As presently constructed, Dallas players are all for the most part good or great finishers. But creators they are not.

Consequently Carlisle is left with revolving the offense around Nowitzki — which is obviously smart — but his teammates have trouble creating high percentage shots out of one-on-one situations even when defenses are titled towards the German big man.

The end result is a team that does a poor job of creating shots right at the rim. Per Hoopdata, the Mavericks only attempt 22.6 shots per game at the rim, a figure that puts them in the league’s bottom five.

The lack of shots at the basket also has an effect on their ability to draw fouls. Carter and company attempt 21.6 free throw attempts per game, good for 18th in the NBA.

Surprisingly, Dallas still has the 13th best offense in the league, but it’s prone to some tough nights. The Mavericks rely heavily on the most inefficient shot in basketball: the mid-range jumper.

NBA.com’s advance stats tool tells us the majority of their field goal attempts are mid-range jumpers, a shot they convert 41.6 percent of the time.

For the sake of comparison, powerhouse offenses like the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder take a steady dose of mid-range shots, but also manufacture a superior amount of attempts right at the rim.

The Mavs roster is an imperfect one, but it clearly works best with Nowitzki in the fold. An argument could be made that there isn’t another player in the league much more suited for an offense that produces outside of the paint but also inside the arc.

Read about the Mavericks

The Two-Man Game.

Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

Tags: Dallas Mavericks THN-DAL