Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons undergoes right knee surgery

DALLAS — The Dallas Mavericks announced today that forward Chandler Parsons underwent arthroscopic surgery to address an injury to his right medial meniscus. The surgery was performed by team physician Dr. Daniel Worrel at The Carrell Clinic in Dallas. Parsons will miss the remainder of the 2015-16 season.

Parsons (6-10, 230) finished the year with averages of 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 29.5 minutes in 61 games (51 starts). He shot 49.2 percent (320-of-651) from the field and 41.4 percent (104-of-251) from 3-point range.

Over his final 30 games of the season (since Jan. 12), Parsons averaged 18.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 34.3 minutes. He shot 52 percent (204-of-392) from the floor and 47.5 percent (75-of-158) from deep in his last 30 games.

Game 71: Mavs at Trail Blazers

Wiliams To Mejri

Deron Williams gets in the lane and throws the alley-oop to Salah Mejri for the slam.

Mavs know they must collectively ‘step up’ with Chandler Parsons sidelined due to knee injury

DALLAS — With the announcement that versatile forward Chandler Parsons will not accompany the Dallas Mavericks on their upcoming four-game road trip due to a right knee injury, each individual player on the roster knows they will need to elevate their own game in order to help the team remain afloat in the Western Conference standings.

Practice Report: Dirk Nowitzki

Mavs F Dirk Nowitzki dishes on how much the team will miss Chandler Parsons, others having to step up, the attacks in Brussels and more.

Tuesday, the Mavericks (35-35) announced that Parsons will be sidelined for at least the next four games, exploring treatment options for a right knee that underwent a hybrid microfracture surgery back on May 1. The 6-foot-10 Parsons has 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 his best basketball of the season during the last two months after battling his way back to 100 percent following the offseason procedure, averaging 19 points and 5.9 rebounds while connecting on 51.9 percent shooting from the field and 46.9 percent from three-point range since Jan. 20.

And with Parsons’ health now in question, the Mavs know they will have to collectively come together in order to fill his void.

Practice Report: Deron Williams

Mavs PG Deron Williams weighs in on the news of Chandler Parsons' injury, moving forward without him and more.

“The team heard yesterday, and we’re just disappointed for him,” 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said Tuesday following the Mavs’ practice. “We’re disappointed for him, ‘cause he worked so hard coming back. He worked through some frustration early in the season, when he was on a minute restriction, and you could see in his face that he wanted to do more and more. And then, finally, the last two or 2 ½ months he was playing some of the best ball of his career. He looked good, he’s pain-free, and he shot the ball really well, and so this is another little step back for him. He was pretty crushed last night, obviously, and we’re disappointed for him. But I think he’ll be fine. He’s going to work his way back, and this is a smaller surgery than he did last summer. I think he’ll be back to 100 percent, and for the team this is also tough. He’s been playing incredible. He’s shooting basically 50 percent from three and 50 from two. He’s been on an incredible run, and obviously we’ve been going small lately. He makes the small lineup work playing at the four, so we’re just going to have to find other ways to be productive and get some wins to sneak into the playoffs.”

Playing without Parsons on Sunday as he sat out with what was believed to be a sore right hamstring, the Mavericks relied on Nowitzki’s season-high 40 points to hold off the Portland Trail Blazers for a 132-120 overtime win at home. The Mavs also got a season-high 31 points and 16 assists from point guard Deron Williams, who admittedly looked to be aggressive with Parsons out of the lineup.

Practice Report: Rick Carlisle

Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle comments on Chandler Parsons' injury, filling his void, Wednesday's game against Portland and more.

Williams now says Sunday’s victory over the Trail Blazers (36-35) could serve as the perfect blueprint for success with Parsons sidelined, hoping to replicate that same winning formula Wednesday night in a pivotal third showdown between the two teams to conclude the home-and-home series.

“I think that’s what we’re going to have to have,” Williams said after the Mavericks’ 55.1 percent shooting as a team bettered the Blazers’ 40.4 percent to overcome a 52-50 rebounding disadvantage and 25 Portland points off Dallas’ 16 turnovers. “You know, any time injuries happen, especially to one of your best players, other guys have to step up. That’s the case with what we’ve got going on right now, ‘cause Chandler means a lot to this team on both ends of the floor. You know, with the different matchup problems that he possesses, it helped us a lot. And without him, we’ve got to fill the void in a lot of different areas.”

“It was tough news, obviously,” swingman Wesley Matthews added. “You know, you’re losing one of your better players to something so fluky like that, so we’re all feeling for him. We’re hurting for him. You know, we know that it was big for him this season to be able to come back from the knee surgery, and he was playing well. That’s potentially back-to-back playoff series not being a part of, but everybody’s got to step their game up. Everybody’s got to do a little bit more. And we still have a job to do.”

The Mavericks will certainly have their work cut out for them, however, looking to sweep the season series with Portland on Wednesday. The Mavs will also attempt to begin their daunting road trip on a high note, entering the third and final showdown against Portland just one-half game back in the battle for the sixth seed. And with just 12 games remaining on the schedule, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle admits that his team can’t afford to be sidetracked by the injury to Parsons as the regular season draws to a close.

Practice Report: Wesley Matthews

Mavs G Wesley Matthews reacts to the Chandler Parsons injury news, what the team needs to do to fill his void moving forward and more.

“We’ve just got to make it work with the guys we have available,” Carlisle matter-of-factly said. “You know, right now (Jeremy) Evans is out. He had shoulder surgery. Chandler’s out for now, and we’ve got 13 active guys. And these are the guys we’re going to war with for the last 12 games.”

Note: The Mavericks will now head out on the road, concluding their home-and-home series in Portland on Wednesday to begin a four-game trip. Dallas leads the season series 2-0. The game will tip off at 9:00 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN.

The Mavs return to their home floor on March 30, hosting the New York Knicks. The Mavs lead season series 1-0 after a 104-97 win in New York back on Dec. 7. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

baylor
Injury updates presented by Baylor Emergency Medical Centers:

Chandler Parsons (right knee injury) — not with the team

Jeremy Evans (right shoulder surgery) — out for the remainder of the season

Game 70: Mavs vs. Trail Blazers

Mavericks vs. Trail Blazers

Dirk Nowitzki led all scorers with 40 points including eight in overtime as the Mavs beat the Trail Blazers, 132-120.

Game 69: Mavs vs. Warriors

Mavericks vs. Warriors

The Mavs and Warriors put on a show for fans at the AAC Friday night. Dirk Nowitzki led the team with 24 points and David Lee put up a monster 16-point 16-rebound double-double.

Game 68: Mavs at Cavaliers

Pachulia Steals It, Then Finishes

Zaza Pachulia steals the ball away from Kevin Love and flies in for the jam.

Lineup change pays off in Mavs win at Charlotte

It was bound to happen eventually, and last night it did.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle changed up the starting lineup, replacing Zaza Pachulia with Raymond Felton. Dirk Nowitzki started at center with Chandler Parsons at power forward as the Mavs tested a small-ball group against the hottest team in the NBA. Before last night, the Hornets had won a league-high seven straight games, while the Mavs had lost a league-high five consecutive contests and had slid down to eighth place in the standings.

After Saturday’s loss to Indiana, Carlisle pledged to make changes if necessary to give his team the best chance to win. The early returns following that change have certainly been positive, as a first-half blitz saw the Mavs lead balloon to as much as 19 in an 11-point win. However, Charlotte plays a much smaller starting group than most other teams in the league, so there’s no guarantee the lineup change will carry over to future contests. Still, the Mavericks have been rolling out enough small-ball groups lately that this is now officially a trend, so it’s worth looking at what’s made those units so effective and how it can translate to success down the stretch as Dallas continues on in the crowded playoff race.

The smaller the lineup, the more the ball moves

When Dallas can spread the floor with three players who can attack off the dribble, defenses are forced to rotate to absolute perfection. But by moving Chandler Parsons to the power forward spot, the Mavericks can play four guys who can penetrate and, next to the best-shooting big man in NBA history, that creates a terrible dilemma for defenses. Five-out basketball causes all sorts of problems for opponents because from a defensive perspective it can turn each play into five individual games of 1-on-1. When teams run traditional halfcourt sets with two big men, a defense can survive if one guy makes a mistake or has a disadvantageous matchup. But in 5-out ball, the offense can exploit every single matchup, which means you’d better stick to your man and keep him out of the paint, because you’re not going to get much help if you’re beat. All of your teammates are defending guys 25 feet from the rim, so who would normally be the traditional help man could be as far as 30-40 feet away from you. Each individual defender is on an island.

Of course, the offense wants the defense to help in those situations because it creates open jumpers on the outside. Here’s the Mavs’ first offensive play in last night’s game. Notice how this is set up: There are five offensive players all between 20-25 feet from the rim as Raymond Felton plays one-on-one up top.

2016-03-15 13_59_56-NBA.com_Stats - Dallas vs Charlotte - MONDAY, MARCH 14, 2016

Felton makes a quick crossover move on Kemba Walker and attacks the paint. Marvin Williams’ instincts take over, knowing that if he doesn’t slide down to help on the driving Felton, the Mavs guard will more than likely have a layup. But watch what happens when he helps.

2016-03-15 14_00_13-NBA.com_Stats - Dallas vs Charlotte - MONDAY, MARCH 14, 2016

Parsons is wide, wide open. It’s an easy three-pointer. Here’s the full play.

But driving the lane doesn’t always lead immediately to a shot, and that’s OK. The Mavs often attack and then pull the ball out and either reset the offense or swing to a player who becomes open as the defense falls off-balance. The Mavericks drove the lane 42 times in last night’s game, according to team analytics, and the club scored 50 points during possessions with a paint drive.

That high a volume of attacking creates an equally high volume of passing, and no team has done more of that since the All-Star break. In that time, the Mavericks lead the NBA with 352.9 passes per game, and in last night’s contest they made 366 passes. Seven players made at least 30 passes, an astonishing number. So not only is the team spreading the floor with quick guys, but they’re quick guys who can read the defense and make the right pass to lead to the most desirable shot. It’s a fun brand of basketball to play and watch, but it’s not fun at all to defend.

A quick note on the defense: Dallas switched on almost every screen last night, a luxury small-ball lineups tend to use religiously as it streamlines defensive coverage and mitigates any potential confusion in the pick-and-roll game. Also, Wesley Matthews was absolutely terrific against Kemba Walker in the fourth quarter, slowing the guard down after he went on a tear in the fourth quarter. Defense is part of the game, too, and the Mavs performed very well in that area last night.

Parsons and Dirk

Small-ball means Parsons plays the 4 and Dirk Nowitzki plays the 5. That’s a good thing for the Mavericks.

Since the All-Star break, Dallas has scored 1.411 points per possession in 77 minutes with that frontcourt duo in small-ball lineups, according to nbawowy.com. The Mavs have a 67.4 effective field goal percentage in those situations, an absurd rate. By comparison, the 59-win Warriors lead the NBA this season with a 56.2 eFG percentage.

On an individual level, Parsons has shined next to Dirk, with an 89.5 eFG, 88.6 true shooting percentage, and 68.4 field goal percentage in situations when he’s at the 4 and Dirk as at the 5.

Taking each player’s skill sets into consideration, though, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that they perform so well in those roles. Parsons has been playing more and more 4 lately, and it’s not crazy to think that, someday, he could make the transition to that position on a full-time basis. Meanwhile, Nowitzki has the same edge over centers today that he did against power forwards in the early-’00s in terms of quickness and exploiting opposing bigs’ discomfort defending on the outside. Centers naturally gravitate toward the rim so most aren’t going to think to stick tight to Nowitzki when he’s 25 feet from the basket, a mistake Nikola Jokic made last week that resulted in three Mavs points.

Parsons, meanwhile, has elevated his game to unprecedented heights in 2016. He’s averaging better than 20 points per game in the last two months and he’s rivaled by only Stephen Curry and Kawhi Leonard in terms of efficiency among high-usage players. He’s also climbed into the top-10 league-wide in points per possession among players with at least 750 possessions this season, according to Synergy Sports.

He ranks second in spot-up points per possession among players with at least 150 such possessions and he’s climbed up into the top 20 percent in PPP as the pick-and-roll ball-handler, in transition, and coming off cuts. His game is becoming more and more well-rounded as he’s even creating for himself at a high level this season, scoring 0.95 points per possession in isolation, ranking ahead of players like James Harden and DeMar DeRozan.

Power forward is arguably the most important position in the modern NBA, as your personnel at that spot will dictate the type of team you will be. If you have a stretch-4 shooter like Dirk, you can run a 4-out pick-and-roll and create driving and passing lanes for your point guard. However, if you have a dynamic scorer and facilitator like Parsons, who at 6-foot-10 (with a ratchet) can attack the paint, finish, pass, and shoot off both the catch and bounce, you can play 5-out and run your opponent ragged.

There aren’t many (or perhaps any) traditional power forwards in this league who can defend Parsons for 20-30 minutes a night, and there aren’t many centers who can do the same with Dirk. For the record, last night they combined for 47 points on 17-of-32 shooting and 20 rebounds. That combination is just lethal, and we’ve already seen the type of damage it can do, albeit on a fairly limited sample size compared to the Mavs’ rotation before the All-Star break.

The back end of the rotation

With Felton moving into the starting lineup, reserve minutes sprang open on the wing. Deron Williams battled foul trouble in the first half (before going supernova in the fourth quarter) which opened the door for rookie Justin Anderson to see some action. He scored only one point in eight minutes, but he made a play I can’t ever remember seeing before.

Charlotte’s Nic Batum drove the lane on a fast break and rose for the layup, but Anderson flew in literally out of nowhere and rejected the shot with his left (strong) hand, then grabbed the rebound with his off-hand in mid-air and launched a fast break the other way.

The Mavs have brought in plenty of super-athletic wings in the last decade-plus, from Gerald Green to Rodrigue Beaubois to Al-Farouq Aminu and more. But I’m not sure there are many people on the planet who can make the play Anderson made. Look at it this way: Not only did he block the layup, but he also got the rebound, preventing a Cody Zeller put-back dunk. Then, he made the outlet pass, ran the floor, collected a pass, drove the lane, and drew a foul going for a layup.

It was no secret coming out of the Combine that Anderson was one of, if not, the most athletic players in the NBA Draft. His combination of wingspan, verticality, and explosiveness gave him the physical makeup that every scout craves. As the season has worn on, he’s become more comfortable within the flow of the offense and playing defense at the professional level, adjustments which trouble pretty much every rookie. But no amount of coaching can teach a player to make the play Anderson did, which is what made him such a tantalizing prospect to begin with.

It’s unclear whether he’ll see more playing time as the race heats up and the season winds down, but that was a huge momentum play, and I’m sure it gave the rook a significant confidence boost. If nothing else, it’s a highlight play we’ll watch in awe for quite some time.

The move to small-ball was a resounding success last night, as it’s been for much of the season. And, looking at the schedule, the Mavs play their next five games against teams which don’t play traditional centers (Cleveland, then Golden State and Portland twice). This lineup could stick for a while, or perhaps it was a one-time thing to match up against a specific opponent in one specific contest. Either way, the Mavs have certainly found something with that philosophy, and their success in small-ball stretches could ultimately determine how far they go the rest of the regular season and into the playoffs.