Play of the Day: Monta Ellis

Monta Ellis drills a deep 2-pointer as time expires in the fourth as the Mavericks take down the Bucks.

There’s no way Monta Ellis couldn’t be this week’s Player of the Week.

He was just unbelievable in the last four games, at times carrying the team and at times just playing his normal All-Star brand of basketball. Ellis technically hit two game-winners in two nights (the Milwaukee buzzer-beater and the three-pointer to take a 130-129 lead in Chicago), and while it’s impossible to credit just one player for any NBA win, without Ellis’s late-game heroics in both contests, there’s no telling if Dallas would have won either game.

For example, Ellis scored eight of the Mavs’ final nine points in the come-from-behind road win against the Bucks Wednesday night, and all of them came in the final 1:34 of the game. He took his game up another level in Chicago, and he’s sustained that rare combination of efficiency and volume throughout the entire week — his 32.4 usage rate in the last four games leads the team by a mile, and that number climbed to an even higher 36.8 percent in the fourth quarter, meaning more than one-third of Mavs possessions in the final frame ended either in an Ellis shot or turnover. And considering he turned it over less than two times per game during the last four, more often than not it was a shot and two points.

Monta’s Week in Numbers
28.3 PPG (led team) 50.0 FG% 1.8 SPG (led team) 32.4 usage rate (led team) One buzzer-beater and one game-winner (led the team!) 8.3 PPG in 4th Quarters (led team) 57.9 FG% in 4th Quarters

As Rick Carlisle and other Mavericks have said, the team can’t continue to rely so heavily on Ellis for the rest of the season. However, on a team with as many scoring threats as this one, it does make sense to ride the hot hand. That’s what Dallas did when Dirk had it cooking a few weeks ago, and that’s what’s happening now with Ellis. Once he cools off a bit, the Mavericks can look in a different direction for points. Last night, Chandler Parsons led the way in the scoring department, although he was also the only Maverick who played more than 30 minutes in what turned out to be a blowout win in a rematch with the Bucks. Ellis and Nowitzki were also red-hot — in other words, everything was back to normal.

But we might as well enjoy the most recent Ellis tear while it lasts. He’s simply been phenomenal at a time when Dallas has needed him most, and his conquests are a huge reason why the Mavs rank second in the league in “clutch” net rating (difference in points per 100 possessions in the final five minutes of a game with the lead at five points either way) at +33.1. The Mavs have played more clutch minutes this season than all but three teams, per NBA.com, which makes their absurd efficiency in the closing moments of close contests even more impressive. Monta Ellis has a lot to do with it.

STAT OF THE WEEK69.8

Dallas shot 69.8 percent (37-of-53) on two-pointers Sunday against the Bucks. According to Basketball-Reference, it’s just the third time in franchise history that the team has converted on 2s at that clip. The other two games, strangely enough, have both come in the year 2014. Dallas hit 70.2 percent against the Lakers on Nov. 21 and 72.2 percent on Feb. 21 against Philadelphia. The performance against Philadelphia ties for the 14th-best in as far back as the B-R database goes (the 1963-64 season). Last night’s blitzkrieg against Milwaukee ties for 41st all-time.

Consider that another coincidental stat, as the Mavs’ No. 41 hit 7-of-8 himself on 2s yesterday. Per B-R, it’s just the 14th time in his career that Dirk has hit at least 87.5 percent on 2s on at least eight attempts. (The Mavs have only lost one of those games.)

Highlights: Mavs vs. Bulls - 12/2/14

Monta Ellis scored 38 points and sank three free throws to send the game into overtime. His 3-pointer from downtown Peoria put the Mavs up for good as they outlast the Bulls in double OT.

We saw all sorts of bonkers efficiency last night. Chandler Parsons went 7-of-8 on 2s. Monta Ellis was 6-of-8. Brandan Wright and Tyson Chandler combined to shoot 66.7 percent, which actually lowered the team’s field goal percentage. You don’t see that very often. (Based on how well those guys have played this season, I don’t think they’re going to hear about it in the locker room.) For the season, Dallas leads the league in two-point percentage at 54.5. Only seven other teams hit at least half their 2s.

Last night’s offensive outburst propelled the team’s offensive rating back up to 114.0, 2.3 points per 100 possessions better than any other team. The Mavericks haven’t scored fewer than 106 points in a game in exactly two weeks; Dallas scored 100 points in a loss to Indiana on Nov. 24 and the Mavs have won six of seven since.

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