Olivia Newton-John had the right idea (Let’s Get Physical)
Dallas’ reaction to the Nuggets’ physical play is exactly what the Nuggets should want it to be. Instead of talking about how they need to match the Nuggets’ physicality Carlisle is talking about sending video to the league of the fouls that were not being called. Mavericks fans get grumpy if you call their team soft. Well, I have read a handful of articles from the Dallas Morning News, but I did not see a quote anywhere where a Mavs player said we need to welcome that style of play and see how they like it. I am sorry, but the response the Mavs have given of please call these plays a foul from now on is not how a strong fierce team reacts to getting manhandled the way they were in game one.
There is an article from Jean-Jacques Taylor who says he wants to see a Mavs player put a Denver player on their butt and implement the no layup rule.
Carmelo Anthony would be a fine victim. So would Chauncey Billups. Or if they’re really feeling bold, they could send Kenyon Martin crashing to the ground.
If he thinks a hard foul will prove to Denver that the Mavs are a tough team and should be respected, I have news for Mr. Taylor. Tyson Chandler tried to do that for the Hornets in the first round. There was one specific play where Chandler gave Nene a forearm to the ribs on a shot attempt. It was almost exactly the same hit Kenyon gave Dirk except for the fact Nene was in the air. Did the Nuggets care? No, because they knew it was a fake show of toughness. In fact Nene made the shot. What shows more toughness a shot to the ribs or scoring on a play where someone gives you a shot to the ribs?
You do not prove physical toughness by hitting someone hard once. You prove it by playing with intensity and physicality for 48 minutes. Knocking a Nugget player down may make the Mavs and their fans feel better, but it is not going to transform them into a tough physical team. It is simply not in their team DNA.
Kenyon has been upgraded
As I am sure everyone has heard by now Kenyon’s forearm shiver to Dirk has been upgraded from a technical to a flagrant one and has lightened Martin’s wallet by $25,000. As Marc Stein explains in his excellent article on the NBA’s decision once a player surpasses three flagrant foul points (flagrant ones are worth one point and flagrant twos are worth two points) they are suspended for the next game. Kenyon now has one flagrant foul point, as does Chauncey. There is good news here though. That technical would have been Kenyon’s third in six games. After seven technical fouls a player is suspended for the next game. I am more worried about Kenyon getting seven technicals than four flagrant foul points. With the technical from game one against Dallas upgraded to a flagrant one Kenyon remains at two technicals.
As far as the decision to upgrade the technical to a flagrant, I really do not have a problem with it. It was excessive contact and the fact that Kenyon delivered the blow after play had been stopped by his original foul is incriminating. And as everyone has pointed out who has sounded off on the topic Kenyon does have a bit of a history of creating extra contact, which probably counted against him.
Stick with what was working
The Mavs really got away from the high screen with Dirk that worked so well to start the game. There is no penalty for running the same set over and over. Certainly other players need to be involved, but I would have made sure Dirk shot the ball 30 times instead of 22. As the game wore on Dallas ran down screens and cross screens, sometimes for Dirk, sometimes with him as the screener and those played into the Nuggets’ hands. They put Dirk in a one on one situation with Kenyon Martin or Chris Andersen who both did a very good job against him. In the middle of the fourth quarter when they went back to the high screen with Dirk and Jason Terry, more often than not Terry kept the ball for himself.
Kidd’s passes to nowhere
Jason Kidd was terrible. Not only did he make three or four mind numbingly bad passes either directly to Nuggets players or Nuggets fans, but who would have ever thought that Kidd would be guarded by Carmelo Anthony and never once attempt to drive on him. Dallas fans are taking solace that Chauncey did not have a particularly good game either, but as I pointed out in my preview, Dallas needs Kidd to play at a high level much more than Denver needs Chauncey to. The fact that he looked slow and almost afraid of hanging onto the ball is not a good sign for the Mavs.
Of course, it was only one game and Kidd is probably almost as likely to have zero turnovers in the next game as he is to cough it up eight times again, but in the regular season Kidd did average more turnovers against the Nuggets (4.0) than any other team in the league save Orlando (5.5). If you add the eight turnovers from game one to his 12 turnovers in three previous games and that bumps his average up to 5.0 against Denver this season. We saw the Nuggets forcing Chris Paul into numerous turnovers this season and during round one. Teams struggle to play efficient offense when the point guard is struggling to hang onto the ball. If Kidd cannot take care of the rock it will really hurt the Mavericks. Not only will their offense be weaker, but the turnovers can lead to easy baskets thus also affecting the Mavs already average defense as well.
Opportunities in transition
In addition to getting away from the high screen with Dirk the Mavs let the Nuggets off the hook by not being aggressive in transition. I harped on this in the first round and I am going to keep going, but only if you guys promise to keep it to yourself. The Nuggets did do a good job of retreating and I think on many occasions the Mavericks’ guards saw Denver’s big men back and decided to pull the ball out. The Mavs should not fall for that optical illusion. Even if the Nuggets are back, they are still susceptible to giving up open shots especially after a drive and dish or if the opposition runs some kind of quick screen and roll action. Too often the Hornets and now the Mavs have played into the teeth of the Nuggets defense and right now that is a losing proposition. Plus if you want to get some free throws having a quick guard with momentum challenge a big at the rim in transition is a pretty good tactic.
The NBA where where did the backboard go happens…
Thanks to Rob at The Two Man Game for posting this video. I have watched it over and over and it is hilarious every time. It may be the worst footwork I have ever seen.
Home court in the WCF?
Perhaps the biggest news story today, other than my church softball team doubling last year’s win total after just two games, was the Los Angeles Lakers game one loss at home to the Houston Rockets. I have pointed out previously that the winner of game one wins almost 80% of seven games series. There are many games remaining to be played, but you cannot stop me from dreaming of a Nuggets/Rockets Western Conference Finals matchup where the Nuggets would possess home court advantage.