Shootaround: Tyson Chandler

Mavs C Tyson Chandler dishes on Dez Bryant's catch, how he's feeling after taking a game off, the bench's production and more.

It’s difficult to draw too many conclusions after a game in which three of the Mavs’ starters did not play. However, all five will take part in the action tonight for the second leg of a home-and-home with the Denver Nuggets.

The Mavs will be looking to avoid falling victim to the home-and-home sweep, something they suffered at the hands of these same Nuggets early last season. After losing a close game in Denver, Dallas lost by 14 at the AAC just two days later. These two teams are obviously very different today than they were at this point last season, but to avoid a similar fate, Dallas must play a strong game for 48 minutes. The Mavs nearly pulled off the comeback win against Denver on Wednesday night, but a poor third quarter blew the game out of reach.

For the players, this game represents a battle of will. It’s tough to play the same team twice in a season, let alone twice in the span of three days. The Mavs know all of the Nuggets’ sets. Therein lies their advantage: Because Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, and Rajon Rondo sat out the last game, Denver doesn’t have a perfect feel for what Dallas likes doing offensively. That’s where coaching wits come in. Which coach will make the most adjustments? Will either coach make any significant ones? It will be an interesting chess match to follow.

Mavs Offense Nuggets Defense
Points/100 poss. 110.9 (1) 104.3 (20)
eFG% 52.7 (T-3) 49.1 (11)
TOV% 12.3 (T-1) 13.2 (24)
Off/Def Reb% 24.5 (20) 75.9 (7)
FT/FGA .259 (24) .316 (T-27)

The Mavs were able to get to the free throw line 20 times against the Nuggets, a mark basically in line with their season average (near 22). However, Dallas also attempted an astonishingly high 100 field goals in the game, the second day in a row the club launched that many shots. Heading into last game the Nuggets were dead-last in the league in free throws surrendered per opponent field goal attempt, but because the Mavericks were unable to get to the free throw line at a higher volume the other night, Denver rose all the way to 27th. With Nowitzki and Chandler setting ball-screens for Monta Ellis and Rajon Rondo this time around, the guards should have a clearer path to the rim and therefore it’s likely they’ll draw fouls more often.

After briefly dropping to as low as third in turnover percentage, the Mavs are back in the No. 1 spot, tied with the Charlotte Hornets. Dallas is taking better and better care of the ball as time goes on following the Rondo trade (despite his seven turnovers against Detroit last week). As these guys get more and more used to each other, I expect the turnover ratio to drop even lower. However, playing at a fast pace tends to generate more turnovers as games can verge in growing out of control. The Mavericks played the last two games at ridiculously quick paces but still managed to hang on to the ball. Slowing the tempo just a bit, though, could lead to better possessions. That’s ultimately up to the players, though, and how they feel the game is going.

Last game will not be enshrined in the three-point shooting hall of fame, either. Dallas was just 9-of-37 behind the arc against Denver for just 24.3 percent shooting. Meanwhile, the Nuggets were just 4-of-19 (21.1 percent). The game tonight could easily come down to which team can shoot it better beyond the arc.

Mavs Defense Nuggets Offense
Points/100 poss. 103.8 (T-18) 102.8 (T-17)
eFG% 50.5 (T-19) 48.3 (23)
TOV% 16.8 (4) 14.7 (19)
Off/Def Reb% 72.0 (29) 27.8 (5)
FT/FGA .276 (14) .300 (8)

The Nuggets got to the free throw line 35 times Wednesday night, hitting 28 of them. That’s too many free points for a team which struggles elsewhere offensively, and the Mavericks surely took note of that. Meanwhile, the Nuggets grabbed almost 28 percent of available offensive rebounds against the Mavs, which is a number that must come down. Denver was able to turn those offensive boards into 16 second-chance points, and several of those came down the stretch as Dallas was making its comeback.

The Nuggets were also able to score 48 points in the paint, surely a byproduct of Tyson Chandler’s absence. The Mavericks allow just 40.8 points in the paint per game this season, 11th-best in the league. With Chandler, that number probably would have decreased. We’ll see how he can impact the game this evening, going up against the lighting-quick point guard Ty Lawson, among the league leaders in drives per game.

Otherwise, Dallas was generally able to hold Denver at bay, especially considering who was missing. The Nuggets scored 13 fast break points in a wildly fast game, a number two points below their season average and three points lower than what Dallas normally allows. Turning it over only eight times definitely helped to keep that number low, and it’s something the Mavs will be looking to repeat this evening.

Home-and-home series are very strange. The Mavericks nearly played another one earlier this season against Milwaukee, and Dallas was able to win both. Unfortunately, the loss in Denver means Dallas can’t repeat that impressive feat, but all the same the Mavs must win this game. The team has talked about the need to take care of business at home, and with the two final opponents visiting town through January being Chicago and Memphis, this is a great time to start protecting the home floor.

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