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One reason the Mavericks opened up a huge lead in the third quarter is Dallas played very strong defense while things were close. The Mavs allowed just 0.79 points per possession against 19 Phoenix pick-and-rolls in the first three quarters, an extremely solid mark, especially given how much the Suns rely on that set. In addition, 12 of those possessions ended with the ball-handler either shooting or turning it over (good for 0.67 points per possession), and that’s what you want to see as a defense. The reasons that’s positive is it means Dallas contained the offense to just just the player with the ball and didn’t give the Suns a lot of open space elsewhere to take jump shots or throw down alley-oops. The point of a pick-and-roll is to stretch the defense thin, but the Mavericks remained disciplined and forced the Suns into tough shots.
The Mavericks want to push the ball whenever possible, and they were able to do it after Suns turnovers and misses. Dallas scored 1.563 points per possession in 16 fast break possessions. When you can combine efficiency and volume, you’re in good shape. The Mavs really made it a point to push the ball in the first half, when the club scored 1.05 points per possession in 19 tries with between 18-12 seconds left on the shot clock.
Dallas limited Phoenix to 14-of-40 shooting in the middle quarters, including just 8-of-30 outside of the restricted area. The Mavericks suffocated Suns perimeter shooters and stayed very active on defense to take away easy looks.
– Deron Williams scored eight points in less than six first-quarter minutes in his Mavericks debut. The point guard did it on 3-of-4 shooting, and it couldn’t have come at a better time for Dallas. The rest of the team shot just 4-of-15 from the field in the opening frame. Williams’ opening flurry was a large contributing factor to the Mavs taking a 24-22 lead into the second quarter. In the third quarter he took an awkward fall after appearing to bang knees with another player. After a scary moment, he briefly went to the locker room but was ruled probable to return and reappeared on the floor soon after exiting the game.
– After taking a 54-45 lead into halftime, the Mavericks blew the doors off in the third quarter. Dallas surged out to an 11-1 third-quarter start to extend the lead to 19, and the edge would increase to as high as 27 points before all was said and done. Dirk Nowitzki led the way with nine points on 4-of-5 shooting in the quarter after shooting just 1-of-4 in the first half. Nowitzki was +17 in just 6:28 of playing time in the third.
– Especially while Chandler Parsons remains out due to injury, it will be interesting to see what the Mavericks do with their starting lineup and defensive assignments against opponents’ starters. Tonight, Williams and Raymond Felton got the start in the backcourt and Wesley Matthews started at the small forward spot. This is where defensive versatility game into play. Rick Carlisle put Matthews on Phoenix power forward Markieff Morris while Nowitzki checked small forward P.J. Tucker. It was surprising to see Matthews perform so well against Morris, a rising talent in the league and a very multi-talented offensive player with a pretty significant size advantage. Matthews shut Morris’ post-up game down early in the first quarter and that forced Phoenix to look elsewhere for offense, but ultimately Morris would get into foul trouble early and often in every quarter so he wouldn’t get many opportunities to test Matthews.
– As for that starting five, here’s each player’s on-court offensive and defensive rating numbers from the game. (This shows how many points Dallas scored and allowed while that individual player was on the floor.)
|Player||Offensive Rating||Defensive Rating||Net Rating|
Strong. Real strong.
– Felton struggled through injury to begin last season and then never could quite crack the rotation full-time. However, he got the start in the season opener and didn’t fail to deliver. The veteran point guard scored 18 points — his most as a Maverick — on 7-of-14 shooting to go along with six assists. More importantly, he looked quick and decisive all night long, appearing very comfortable and confident within Dallas’ offense. Should he continue to play at this level, he shouldn’t have any issue staying in the rotation this season.
The Mavs (1-0) play the Los Angeles Clippers (1-0) tomorrow night at the Staples Center. Tip-off is at 9:30 p.m. Central.
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