Offday Offerings – Where Men are Men and Mavs are Mavs

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.

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  • Josh Hopp

    Maybe I am just blinded by my love of this team but I HONESTLY am not seeing the deplorable behaviour by our team the Hornets and Mavericks fans are so outraged by this posteason. Kenyon’s push was an exception, and I didn’t even think it was that bad. It’s playoff basketball for god’s sake. And anyway, it’s been officially adressed now so let’s just start afresh. I hesitate to say this but I think a big part of this is that people don’t think we should be performing as well as we are because we are the Nuggets, so something must be going wrong and foul play is as easy an accusation as any other.

  • b.archy6

    @ Jeremy: Always love your offday offerings, this one hit it right on the head. I read the article by Taylor and he seems to insinuate that we were about to implode at some point last game…did anyone get that vibe?? I certainly did not but I was missing something. He also implies that by giving us 1 hard foul on our way to the rack (I’d absolutely LOVE for one of the Mavs to try it the first time Nene gets a running start for one of his tomahawk dunks!) we simply crumble and revert back to the Nuggs of the past. I do not see how he comes to this conclusion either but whatever. The national media still has this misperception of the Nuggs as being immature and not able to win in playoff basketball, but when we play the way that we’ve all been told we need to play n the playoffs, we are called Thugs who are very close to imploding. I have been waiting 8 years for a playoff run and it is sweet no that it is here, but I have also immensely enjoyed showing all the naysayers whats really up with these Denver Nuggets…..Go Nuggs

  • magster

    Denver should really test Dampier’s and Howard’s injuries right out of the gate.

    I’m worried about Nene, Martin and/or Melo getting in early foul trouble.

  • OneMoreSucka

    That video is brilliant. It needs the piano music though.

  • nuggetshoops

    Great analysis – especially on how the Mavs are reacting to our physical play.

    I really don’t get some of the non-Nuggets blogs and media sources out there… they make it sound like we’ve played physical for ages, when it is actually an extremely new concept for a large part of the team. Sure, Kenyon has always had it in him, but did anyone really have his back last year against the Lakers? My mouth still hits the seatback in front of me every time Carmelo draws an offensive foul, and now he’s done it more than once in the past few weeks – and gets *excited* about it!

    Teams that have knocked us out of the playoffs in the past few years, or beat us out for the Division Title – namely the Spurs and Jazz are very physical in their style of play, so why are *we* getting all this press about it? Maybe because it is so new…

    Can’t wait for the game tonight – stay tough Nuggets!

  • jakester

    you *do* know that today’s not an off day, right?