In the Dallas Mavericks most recent 100-87 victory over the previously undefeated Oklahoma City Thunder, many positives could be taken from this victory. Here are the top 5 things from the game that coach Carlisle can smile about.
5. After the first two blowouts of the season, every possible person that somewhat follows the NBA began to point out how the Mavs won’t be able to do anything because of Chandler’s departure. Well, Ian Mahinmi has shown some life the past four games, averaging 11 ppg and providing instant energy when he enters the game – sound familiar? He finished last night with 10 points and 9 rebounds in 21 minutes. If Mahinmi can keep up this type of play for the entire season, Mark Cuban might receive a little less hate mail.
4. Pounding the ball down low hasn’t been a good quality (so far) for the Mavs as their first five games consisted of mostly jump shots. (This shouldn’t be a surprise since ex-Maverick J.J. Barea did the majority of the penetration.) However, the sixth game went in another direction as Carter, Odom, and Mahinmi commanded the paint, helping the Mavs put up 56 points in the paint. Instead of settling for jump shots, the Mavs and specifically Vince Carter finally drove the ball into the lane. The paint is a place the best teams live in, and enforcing your presence near the basket opens up offenses like no other action. This type of toughness will be needed every night if the Mavs want to succeed in this quickly moving, shortened season.
3. Dirk Nowitzki – he’s finally back. After shooting 46.3% from the field in his first five games – a bad percentage for the big German – Nowitzki shot 10-16 for 26 points. He also collected 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals. Since there had only been one win for the Mavs up to this point in the season, clutch play had not been seen much so far. However, scoring ten third quarter points during a crucial run and six important points in the fourth quarter, Dirk reminded everybody just how and why the Mavs won the championship in 2011.
2. It seems reasonable to say shooting 6-37 from the field might not be very good, and Lamar Odom most likely agreed about his first five games of the year. Energy seemed to disappear from the game of the 2010-2011 Sixth Man of the Year, something he gave the Lakers every single night. Part of this problem relates to the fact he most likely is still in shock he’s no longer in Los Angeles and also that he came to Dallas out of shape. (Too much candy, maybe?) Monday night told a different story as Odom played a solid 20 minutes by giving the team eight points and five rebounds. Even though these numbers aren’t staggering and won’t impress anyone outside of DFW, the way he played improved dramatically than his previous games. It actually seemed as though he was trying to give it his all. This is just a step for Odom since the Mavs expect much more consistency and production from the 12-year veteran.
1. No victorious opponent put up less than 99 points on Dallas before the Thunder came into town yesterday, and this surely frustrated Carlisle, who instilled a sense of toughness on both sides of the floor last year. Holding Oklahoma City to 40.3% from the field, 26.3% from behind the arc, and only 87 total points, the defense finally decided to show up. They remained active on the boards, and other than a 27-point second quarter finished off with a James Harden buzzer-beater, the Thunder never reached over 25 points in any of the other quarters. A change to the way the Mavs approached the defensive side of the court could easily be seen. No matter how good or bad any player’s offensive game is going on any given night, he can always play solid defense. So much of defense is simply effort. If the Mavs can create an atmosphere where defense acts as the engine pushing the team forward, they will find much more success than the Mike D’Antoni style of play.
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