Today’s Opponent – Dallas Mavericks
Let me open with the Spurs weakness on defense.
interior defense – we are tied for third in defending the basket from under 10 feet. The other teams we share this unfortunate stat with are Golden State, Phoenix and Sacramento. Ouch. Granted the Spurs are playing much better than the other three but it is a tell-tell sign when you sharing a stat with some of the worst known defenses in the league.
Opponent three point shooting % - many people point to this stat being a weakness of the Spurs defense but it can be countered - that the Spurs protect the three ball better than 27 other teams in the league (opponent 3ball attempts)
Breakdown of the Mavericks after the jump
Dallas Mavericks - Anti-Spurs strengths
making shots in the Key. Their top player accomplishing this feat is Dirk. He is first in the league at making shots from this location. Traditionally a weak point for Spurs defenders, Dirk has created match up difficulties for the Spurs in the past. Recently he was played well in the playoffs by McDyess and doubled by Hill. This could work again but Dallas has created a tandem of big men which hurt to double on Dirk.
Dallas Mavericks - Anti-Spurs weaknesses
not much – really they rank higher in defensive stats than we do or are close enough that the difference is very small. There are some small chinks in their armor though.
One, they allow three more three point attempts per game than we do. If we can hit 2 out of the 3 – that can be the difference between a one and two possession game.
Two, Spurs make more defensive plays per possession than Dallas. If the defense can be applied staunchly in the 4th, it is shown that Dallas can choke/collapse.
Three, Spurs get to the line +4 more times than Dallas does against their opponents. Don’t commit stupid fouls in the 4th and Dallas more than likely will send you in for a couple of freebies more.
Dallas Mavericks – losses
1. Memphis Grizzlies 91-90 – early in the season. Mavericks fell apart in the 4th with a differential in Turn Overs at + 4 and Fouls at + 1 just in the 4th Quarter! They had new personnel and were working out the kinks. This was game an anomaly?
2. Denver Nuggets 103-92 – early in season and another 4th Quarter collapse by the Mavericks. They were beat 24 to 13 in a close game during the 4th. Denver crushed Dallas in the 4th Quarter by doubling Dirk, forcing turnovers and bad shots. Denver used guards to come in and swipe at the ball when Dirk had it. They combined for one forced turnover and four steal on Dirk alone in the 4th Quarter! The turnover/foul differential in the 4th was +6 TO for Dallas and +2 Fouls for Dallas.
Lesson – Stay in the game with Dallas but really apply the pressure in the 4th. Two games in a row that they collapsed due to high pressure, risk taking defenses that forced turnovers, got steals and went to the line more than Dallas.
3. New Orleans Hornets 99-97 – Hornets blasted Dallas in the 3rd and never relinquished the lead, though Dallas did make a valiant effort in the 4th to come back, a defensive play by West allowed the Hornets to prevail. The slaughter in the third was led by a feisty Hornets defense that stole the ball from Dallas five times in the 3rd. This game could have gone either way and is not really useful in showing up Dallas’ weaknesses other than the defensive push by the Hornets in the 3rd.
4. Chicago Bulls 88-83 – Another 4th Quarter collapse by the Mavericks. Now the trend is showing. Usually this trait of not being able to put games away is reserved for younger teams but Dallas is showing a trend here, at least for the time being, of failing to put games away under defensive pressure. Now, they have won 10 games in a row and I would consider them among the league’s elite but there is a definite weakness here.
Mavericks beating the Spurs 103-94
Fourth Quarter collapse by Spurs. Close game up until then. No differential in turnovers or fouls in the fourth – a bad sign against Dallas. Doesn’t help when Tony Parker goes 1-5 in the final quarter either.
Dallas is beatable with applied pressure in the 4th. Three out of their four losses came in a fourth quarter collapse. They had a differential in turnovers during the 4th Quarter of +9 in their four losses. By pressuring their leading scorer, Dirk and putting a quick-handed guard on him can force him to either pass the ball or take a difficult shot. Although these are fundamentals in defense, I think they should be reiterated here due to the nature of losses by the Dallas Mavericks.