Game 61: Mavs vs. Grizzlies

Highlights: Mavs vs. Grizzlies

Nerlens Noel records his best game as a Maverick with 15 points and 17 rebounds, and Seth Curry adds 24 points in the Mavericks win over Memphis.

Game 11: Mavs vs. Grizzlies

Highlights: Mavs vs. Grizzlies

Harrison Barnes had 15 points and Seth Curry added 11 in Friday's game against the Grizzlies.

Mavs know importance of shooting, defending better from three-point range next season

DALLAS — It’s become the great equalizer in the NBA over the last few seasons. Now, the Dallas Mavericks hope to make strides both shooting and defending from behind the three-point line next season.

Shooting just 34.4 percent as a team from three-point range during the 2015-16 season, the Mavericks ranked 23rd in the league in that department. The short-handed Mavs then saw that number drop to just 29 percent during their first-round playoff series against Oklahoma City, falling in five games in the process after injuries to sharpshooters Chandler Parsons and Deron Williams forced them out of the lineup.

Meanwhile, the Dallas defense allowed 36.4 percent shooting on shots from behind the three-point arc during the series. And after seeing his team give up 34.2 percent from three-point range on the defensive end during the season, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle knows there needs to be improvement on both sides of the ball.

“What we’re seeing more and more of these days, if you watch guys like (Stephen) Curry and (Klay) Thompson and (J.J.) Redick, a lot of these guys are running off screens for 26 and 27-foot shots,” Carlisle said when assessing his team’s three-point shooting. “We have a lot of improvement to do shooting it and guarding it.”

Despite Parsons’ team-best 41.4 percent from three-point range this season, the Mavericks ranked near the bottom of the league in outside shooting. The 27-year-old Parsons also finished with a career-high percentage from three-point range, connecting on 47.5 percent from deep during his final 30 games before requiring arthroscopic knee surgery on March 25 to repair a right medial meniscus.

Vice versa, newcomer Wesley Matthews shot a career-low 36 percent from three during the season and only 28.6 percent behind the arc in the playoffs after battling his way back from surgery on a torn Achilles. He now vows to return much better after leaving Portland as the franchise leader with 826 makes from three-point range in five seasons. And with Matthews expected to have a bounce-back ’16-17 season, the Mavericks hope to find more success from long range.

“As time has gone on, with the three becoming a more potent weapon, teams are doing more things defensively to deter it,” Carlisle confessed during the season.

He added: “We have to stay the course. I think it’s a hard-work thing. You work on it and you get better shots when you defend better. … If we keep working on our defense, better shots will come.”

Chandler Parsons’ mid-season surge an indication of the player he could become

Chandler Parsons Season Highlights

Chandler Parsons' combination of skill and swagger served him well during his outstanding mid-season tear.

For 24 games, Chandler Parsons was an All-Star.

From Jan. 20 to March 14, there weren’t many players in the NBA more efficient than the 27-year-old Parsons. During that stretch he averaged 19.8 points per game on 52.4 percent shooting from the field and 47.8 percent from deep, joining names like Stephen Curry and Kawhi Leonard as two of the only players in the NBA with those percentages from the field. He added 6.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.0 steals in 34.9 minutes per game.

There was little doubt that Parsons had finally arrived, after spending the first half of the season playing himself back into top form after undergoing hybrid microfracture surgery on his right knee to repair an injury he suffered late last season and re-aggravated in the 2015 playoffs against the Houston Rockets. Early in the 2015-16 campaign Parsons promised by January his “real season” would start, and he wasn’t lying.

His challenge now is to extend that 24-game stretch to 82.

Dallas took positive steps toward working to maximize Parsons’ impact within the flow of the offense, particularly as the season wore on and he spent more time playing the power forward position. In the 137 minutes Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki played the 4 and 5 spots, respectively, Dallas scored 1.341 points per possession with a 62.1 effective field goal percentage, per nbawowy.com. Parsons himself scored 1.45 points per possession in those situations with a blistering 75.0 effective field goal percentage. He scored 74 points on 40 field goal attempts.

That might not be a 4/5 combination we see too often next season, should Dallas manage to sign Parsons, who has the opportunity to become a free agent this summer. The 27-year-old said all season long that he doesn’t mind playing that position, but the worry with that particular pairing is the Mavericks might not have the defensive rebounding chops to keep up with the likes of more powerful teams on the interior such as Oklahoma City or Sacramento.

Still, at the power forward spot, Parsons is a player through whom the Mavs can run offense on a pretty regular basis, as he creates very serious problems for opponents.

“It’s obviously a mismatch when they’ve got a bigger, slower guy guarding me,” he said earlier this season. “I’m versatile and can catch-and-go and shoot the ball. Obviously, the better I shoot the ball, the harder they’re gonna close out on me and the more they’re gonna bite on the pump fakes. It just gives our team a different look, a more versatile look where we can get up and down.”

For one thing, he has the foot speed to beat bigger defenders off of curls and cuts.

And he has the downhill driving ability to move easily past centers if the opponent is forced to cross-match in transition. Even better, by pulling the center 25 feet away from the rim to guard Parsons, there’s no big man protecting the paint for when the Mavs forward gets past his man.

In an effort to exploit those matchup problems on a more regular basis, head coach Rick Carlisle made Parsons more of a featured player within the offense. There is concrete evidence to suggest the Mavs were better this season as he was more involved.

For starters, Dallas was 15-12 this season when Parsons received at least 55 touches, according to SportVU data. In those games, the Mavs had an average offensive rating of 107.3, which would have ranked fifth in the NBA this season. Additionally, more than 33 percent of the Mavs’ jump shots were uncontested in those games, according to team analytics data, and the Mavs scored 1.17 points per possession when the ball entered the paint either via drive or pass.

By contrast, when he received 54 or fewer touches, Dallas had a 14-20 record and averaged a 102.3 offensive rating in those games, which would have ranked 23rd in the NBA. In those contests, just 22.2 percent of the Mavs’ jumpers were considered “open,” and Dallas scored 1.14 points per possession when the ball entered the paint.

Total number of touches doesn’t completely illustrate how involved a player is — there are other factors at hand, such as the number of minutes he played and who else on the team was healthy or injured, etc. — but it’s noteworthy that there was such a dramatic difference at the 55-touch threshold. None of the other Mavs’ starters had splits nearly as significant at any number cut-off, including Nowitzki.

2016 Exit Interview: Chandler Parsons

Mavs F Chandler Parsons addresses the media following the conclusion of the team's 2015-16 season.

Known for his recruiting prowess, Parsons has the choice to opt out of the final year of his contract and become a free agent. The Mavs, then, would be forced to recruit the recruiter. There is already mutual interest between the two sides, as there should be: Parsons is earning an expanded role in the offense, and the Mavs benefited greatly from his multi-month, mid-season rampage.

Until then, however, Parsons said he’ll focus on rehabbing his right knee, after undergoing another surgery to address a torn meniscus. The procedure ended his season, but Parsons has already done some stand-still shooting and he’ll be able to resume full basketball activities within the next month or so. That’s a big difference from how he spent last summer, when rehab severely limited his ability to do any on-court work.

While undergoing back-to-back season-ending surgeries has been difficult for Parsons to deal with physically and emotionally, the forward said he isn’t worried about any potential long-term impact the two injuries could have. Rather, he’s already thinking ahead to getting back to work.

“I have the best doctors and best trainers int he world working on me every single day, and they think obviously I can get through a full season and continue to still play basketball, and I’m still not in my physical prime,” Parsons said during his exit interview. “It’s not very worrisome for me. It’s obviously frustrating and difficult and I wish it never happened, but it’s something that was out of my control, kind of freak accidents that occur to athletes when you’re competing at the highest level. Obviously I’m hoping for the best, and no one’s gonna work harder than me to get back to where I was and even better.”

After two injury-shortened seasons, Chandler Parsons mulls decision to enter free agency

DALLAS — Entering the 2015-16 campaign with concerns about his right knee after undergoing a hybrid microfracture surgery last offseason, Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons again will admittedly face another uphill climb this summer following a second straight injury-shortened season.

Last season, the 6-foot-10 Parsons hoped to make the most of his first campaign with the Mavericks after signing a reported three-year deal worth $46 million to join the team following three previous seasons with the rival Houston Rockets. However, after being plagued by nagging injuries throughout the grueling 82-game schedule, Parsons found his ’14-15 season cut short after Game 1 of the Mavs’ first-round playoff series against Houston while requiring surgery to repair cartilage damage in his right knee.

Playing in only 66 games last season while averaging 15.7 points, 4.9 rebound and 2.4 assists, the versatile forward was still rehabbing from the injury entering the ’15-16 schedule. He then made his season debut with two points, three rebounds and three assists in 12 minutes of action during a 103-93 road win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 1. Parsons battled his way back to 100 percent from there, overcoming minute restrictions to start the season in the process. But after playing some of his basketball later in the year, Parsons was again forced to miss the team’s first-round playoff series against Oklahoma City following arthroscopic surgery on March 25 to address an injury to his right medial meniscus.

“It’s devastating,” Parsons admitted after watching in street clothes as the Mavs eventually fell to a first-round exit in five games to the Thunder. “You know, last year was something extremely difficult that I had to go through that I’ve never really went through, and now this year I was finally starting to feel like myself again, playing great and winning some games. And then, you know, it’s something different but the same type of injury. It’s just frustrating to not be able to play with these guys and to see us struggle. To see us lose like this in the first round, you can’t help but think, ‘What could I do if I were playing? How would I help?’ You just feel bad for the guys, ’cause it’s bad timing for us to go through all the injuries that we went through this year. But at the same time, you’ve got to be extremely happy for the way they competed and the way they fought. They didn’t give up at all, they didn’t back down from anybody, and they made it an interesting series, for sure. But the most difficult part is, for the second year in a row, to not being able to play for my team when it counts.”

The 27-year-old Parsons played in 61 games for the Mavs this season, making 51 starts and averaging 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists. He also seemed to be playing the best basketball of the his young career during the last 30 games he saw action in before the surgery, averaging 18.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 34.3 minutes while connecting on 52 percent from the floor and 47.5 percent from three-point range during that span.

He now could test the free-agency waters should he choose to opt out of the final year of his contract to hit the open market. But with plans of speaking with Mavs owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson, the former Florida standout says he hopes to work out his contract situation quickly in order to recruit more top-level talent to Dallas.

“I mean, obviously, now that the season’s over, my No. 1 concern right now is to get my knee at 100 percent and focus on my health, to make sure I can get through a full season next year and play the best basketball of my career for 82 games next year and into the playoffs. That’s my No. 1 priority, and now that this season’s over is when I’ll start talking to my agent and looking at other options. I’m sure I’ll be talking to Mark and Donnie a lot about my future here in Dallas. The season obviously ended a lot shorter than we would have liked, but now I guess I’ll take some time off and start talking and thinking about free agency,” Parsons explained.

He added: “Obviously, it’s tough to recruit if I don’t know where I’m going. You know, in the back of my head, Dallas is home to me. I loved it here, and I came here to be a great player and to win a lot of games. You know, I’ve yet to do that here, so I feel like I’ve got a lot of unfinished business here I’d love to continue and grow into the player that I saw myself being here. So, the quicker we can get that done, it allows me to start recruiting and doing that whole thing.”

Showing promise during his first two seasons with the Mavericks, Parsons hopes to continue to grow as a player in a Dallas uniform. That’s a hope the Mavs’ front office shares, according to Nelson, as negotiations figure to get underway in the very near future.

Prior to his last two injury-riddled years, Parsons proved to be durable while playing in 76 and 74 games during the previous two seasons, respectively. He now hopes to recapture that health entering next season, vowing to come back stronger and better than he’s ever been. Still, Nelson says the Mavericks will take a cautious approach into negotiations this summer while attempting to lure Parsons back.

“Certainly, he’s a young player in his prime with upside, but those are conversations that I think we’ll have at the right time,” Nelson said when asked about Parsons’ future in Dallas. “He’s been a big part of the fabric that we’ve built here. But again, it’s a question of how many dollars and injury status and things like that. So, I think we just need to sit down, get past an emotional moment and have those conversations in due process.

“It’s part of the discussions. You know, there are issues and there is a situation there. It’s not that it’s unmanageable, but it’s just that it affects things. … Again, we’ll have those conversations at the right time, but we’d certainly like to have Parsons continue his stint with the Mavericks. He’s a young player with upside, is getting better and works great in our system, so we’ll look forward to those conversations at the right time.”

Mavs find silver lining in injury-riddled ’15-16 season

DALLAS — Falling to the No. 3-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in five games of a first-round playoff series while trying to play through injuries that depleted the roster all season long, the Dallas Mavericks still held their heads up high after putting up a valiant fight.

Suffering a 118-104 series-clinching loss Monday night in Game 5, the Mavericks (1-4) had their 2015-16 season come to an abrupt end after making the playoffs for a 15th time in the last 16 years. The Mavs also overcame injuries to several of their top contributors, playing with only 10 available players in the final outing of the series. And after falling to the Thunder’s star-studded lineup, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle praised his players for their effort and competitiveness during the series.

“We’re disappointed at the result, obviously, but I thought the effort from our team, from start to finish in this series, was second to none,” Carlisle confessed after Monday’s loss. “I couldn’t be prouder of the way our guys competed right up to the very last seconds of the final game. We were up against a great team with great coaching. And metaphorically, we emptied our chamber in five games. I don’t know what we would have thrown at them in Game 6. They just were simply better. We couldn’t solve the rebounding. Their two superstars were great in the series. I thought Dirk Nowitzki was just a fantastic player in this series for us. We had other guys step up, and we had a lot of guys playing hurt.

“That’s the kind of spirit we’ve got on this club. Mavs Nation is going to be extremely proud of this team. You know, getting (into the playoffs) would have seemed like a long shot with nine games to go, but they found a way. And I love the way we competed. I wish we would have had our full contingent of guys.”

Losing versatile forward Chandler Parsons after a season-ending arthroscopic surgery to address an injury to his right medial meniscus on March 25, the Mavs admit that their chances of making the playoffs looked bleak. They also slipped three games below .500 following a 133-111 loss at Sacramento two days later, winning seven of their final nine outings to ascend to the sixth seed in the Western Conference standings.

Unable to give the Mavericks a boost for the second consecutive postseason, Parsons admittedly wonders what could have been had the team remained healthy. The 6-foot-10, 230-pounder finished the ’15-16 campaign averaging 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 29.5 minutes, making 61 appearances (51 starts) after battling back from a hybrid microfracture surgery on his right knee last offseason. He then seemed to have hit a stride during his final 30 games of the season, averaging 18.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists while connecting on 52 percent from the floor and 47.5 percent from three-point range during that span. And after seeing the Mavericks put up a fight against the likes of former MVP Kevin Durant and perennial All-Star guard Russell Westbrook, Parsons expressed his frustration with not being available to help his team when it needed him most.

“It’s frustrating,” Parsons said. “Obviously, I was in a really good groove there and a good rhythm, and I’ve said many times that the playoffs is the most fun time of the year. I really think this series would be different if I was healthy and I was playing, or our team was at full strength.”

But the injuries didn’t stop with Parsons.

The Mavs also saw three-time All-Star point guard Deron Williams slide in and out of the lineup with a left abdominal strain and sports hernia, missing eight games from March 25 to April 8 before being limited in the playoffs. The injury bug continued to bite the Mavericks from there as 10-year veteran J.J. Barea suffered a right groin strain that slowed the cat-quick guard near the close of the regular season and into the playoffs. Meanwhile, backup big man David Lee missed three of the five games in the first-round series after sustaining a right plantar fascia injury in the regular-season finale. Still, the Mavericks pushed the Thunder to the best of their abilities before eventually succumbing to the piling injuries.

“I think we can be proud of the guys. We fought,” Nowitzki said after averaging 20.4 points per game on 49.4 percent shooting in the series. “I think ultimately we had too many injuries, and it caught up with us. You know, it really started already at the end of the regular season. Losing Parsons, losing D-Will, losing D-Lee, and Salah (Mejri) couldn’t even go (Monday). J.J. wasn’t moving well all series, so it was too many injuries, but we battled hard. We battled unbelievably hard to even get to the sixth seed, winning six in a row when everybody thought we were dead, so I’m proud of the guys. We gave it all we had.”

The best Mavs social media moments of the season

Dirk Nowitzki has a well-deserved reputation as one of the funniest players in the NBA, but as it turns out he’s had some pretty stiff competition this year in his own locker room. Following the Mavs players this season on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat has been a trip.

Whether Dirk and Zaza Pachulia are going at it, Justin Anderson is retweeting pictures of lions, or JaVale McGee is posting selfies with the latest Snapchat filters, the Mavs haven’t let their off-the-floor talents go to waste. Although the playoffs are right around the corner, we still have some time to look back on the funny moments before things truly start to heat up. Let’s take a look at some of the best posts and exchanges they’ve had this season.

Let’s start with today…

The Mavs won seven of their final nine games of the season, which means Dirk is already in postseason form. And when the playoffs come around, he takes no prisoners… not even yours truly.

2016-04-14 10_39_27-Dirk Nowitzki (@swish41) _ Twitter

Of course, that wasn’t his only zinger of the season, and he doesn’t just pick on lowly scribes, either. When the Dallas Cowboys jokingly submitted a #MavsNewCourt design prominently featuring the famous star logo, Nowitzki didn’t pull any punches when voicing his disapproval.

2016-04-14 10_41_39-Dirk Nowitzki (@swish41) _ Twitter

And there was the time when he hit front rim on a dunk — and although it happened after a whistle and therefore didn’t count, that didn’t keep the world from chirping about it. Dirk’s response:

2016-04-14 10_44_18-Dirk Nowitzki (@swish41) _ Twitter

Or when C.J. McCollum crossed him up, spun him around, and hit a jumper. (The Mavs won in overtime, though!)

Not even Pau Gasol, a fellow European legend, can avoid a little Nowitzki shade.

Then, of course, there’s this, perhaps the best tweet by any player of the entire season.

Backyard Tennis

Chandler Parsons and Nowitzki are good buddies. Parsons says Nowitzki was one of his favorite athletes growing up, and he proudly wore No. 41 jerseys when playing ball on Florida playgrounds. Now that they’re teammates, Parsons can hang out with his idol. Sometimes that means playing tennis…

#tbt tennis with @swish41 #itwasin #hebeatmebarefoot

A video posted by ChandlerParsons (@chandlerparsons) on

…while others it might mean lifting weights together…

#tbt struggling with the 30s!

A photo posted by ChandlerParsons (@chandlerparsons) on

…while others yet it might mean exploring Southern culture.

@swish41 is ready to hoop!!

A photo posted by ChandlerParsons (@chandlerparsons) on

You’re never too old to be a cowboy.

Parsons and his buddy, Coach Carlisle

These two might have a weird, quirky relationship at times, but that doesn’t stop them from posing for pictures together in front of a Rolls Royce…

Congrats Coach Carlisle on the new deal! #5moreyears #iseeyourwalletisalreadyout

A photo posted by ChandlerParsons (@chandlerparsons) on

…or from hanging out at the most infamous Halloween party in Dallas history.

Happy Halloween!!

A photo posted by ChandlerParsons (@chandlerparsons) on

JaVale McGee, Snapchat superstar

While Nowitzki steals the show on Twitter and Parsons holds the Instagram belt, there’s no question JaVale McGee has the greatest Snapchat of any Maverick, potentially in team history. He’s been a panda rapping along to “Panda” (very meta)…

…he’s relaxed with Buzz Lightyear…

…and he’s worn tropical headgear.

Following along to the adventures of McGee and Raja “The Sphynx” is always a trip, too.

And finally there was the time that he was Charlie Villanueva and Villanueva was he.

Little Mavericks

Villanueva and J.J. Barea both welcomed daughters into the world this season.

Mi vida mi todo Paulina Barea Ortiz 03/31/16 😀😇😜👨‍👩‍👧‍👦🇵🇷

A photo posted by jose barea (@jjbarea11) on

Priceless…….Game Day vs OKC…….#dallasmavs #aliyah #mffl #mavsnation #believeincharlie #proudfather

A photo posted by Charlie Villanueva (@cvbelieve) on

Congratulations to them both!

Dirk and Zaza: An unparalleled rivalry

Dirk and Pachulia don’t back down on the floor, so you’d better believe they’re not going to be shy away from the game. These two go at each other online harder than most guys do their opponents in the postseason.

Dirk doesn’t believe Pachulia can snag a Leonel Messi jersey.

https://twitter.com/zaza27/status/700465922352553988

(Click to see the whole exchange on that one…)

There’s the Great Shoulder Debate of 2015-16.

https://twitter.com/zaza27/status/684965616189595648

And then there’s Zaza taking credit for Dirk’s rise up the all-time scoring list.

Finally, here’s our entry for tweet of the year…

What a season it’s been for the Mavs, both on the floor and off of it. There certainly is something charming about these guys being so funny away from the game, especially in how they interact with one another. The players really enjoy each other’s company, and that’s a pretty important thing given the amount of time they spend together. The group has talked up the importance of chemistry and togetherness all season long, and down the stretch of the playoff race we learned just why that’s so important.