'Sky's the limit' for Mavs' offensive machine

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
11:50
PM CT
NowitzkiJerome Miron/USA TODAY Sports"I think we can score with the best of 'em in this league," Dirk Nowitzki said of the upgraded Mavs.

DALLAS – These Dallas Mavericks will be an offensive juggernaut.

That might sound like a premature declaration, considering this starting five has played a grand total of two preseason games as a unit. But just listen to LeBron James, a pretty good authority on offensive awesomeness.

“If it’s not the top three or four best offenses in the league, then you don’t get any better than Rick Carlisle offense,” James said after getting a firsthand look at the Mavs on Friday in Cleveland.

He’ll get no argument from the Memphis Grizzlies, after one of the NBA’s stingiest defensive teams struggled to get stops until the Mavs’ starters iced up on the bench in the fourth quarter of Dallas’ 108-103 victory Monday night.

You don’t get any better than Rick Carlisle offense, but Carlisle’s offense got a lot better this offseason.

The Mavs were an elite scoring team the past season, when Dallas ranked tied for second in the NBA in offensive efficiency and put up 109 points per 100 possessions. Then the Mavs made a couple major upgrades in the starting lineup.

Chandler Parsons, the Mavs’ new $15-plus-million-per-year small forward, is an all-around weapon who hurts opponents as a pick-and-roll ball handler, spot-up perimeter shooter, slasher, runner and just about any other imaginable way. Tyson Chandler is best known for his award-winning work on the defensive end, but he excels as a roll man who can catch and finish above the rim, a threat who sucks in defenses and creates space for the Mavs’ many shooters.

Whether Jameer Nelson is an offensive upgrade over departed, deadeye-shooting point guard Jose Calderon could be subject for debate, but there’s no doubt Nelson fits well in Dallas with his veteran savvy, perimeter shooting and penetration ability.

Put those new pieces and a deep bench with Dirk Nowitkzi and Monta Ellis, one of the league’s premier pick-and-pop partnerships, and the Mavs have an awfully potent mix.

Not to put too much stock in preseason stats, but in the four quarters started by the Mavs’ starting five, Dallas has scored an eye-popping 130 points.

The Mavs scored 91 points through three quarters against the Grizzlies, who gave up a Western Conference-low 94.6 points per game the past season. Heck, the Mavs managed to score 57 points in the first half despite their two leading scorers from the past season combining for 2-of-11 from the floor.

“I think we can score with the best of ‘em in this league,” said Nowitzki, who finished with 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting. “We definitely have a lot of scoring power out there. The game these days is pick-and-rolls, and we’ve got some great pick-and-roll players. With Tyson and [Brandan] Wright, we’ve got guys who can finish way above the rim. That sucks in a lot of the guys because they’ve got to protect the rim. Jameer is a knockdown shooter. We’ve got a lot of weapons out there.”

The Mavs have a lot of weapons that mesh well. The Dallas decision-makers did a masterful job manufacturing a roster of players who perfectly complement one another.

Nowitzki, the sweetest shooting power forward to ever play the game, demands the kind of attention that will make him the focal point of any defensive game plan. Ellis, one of the league’s most dynamic off-the-dribble players, is one of several Mavericks who should thrive running pick-and-pops with the 10th scorer in NBA history, a list that also includes Parsons, Nelson and sixth man Devin Harris. If teams cheat too much toward Nowitzki when he’s spacing the floor on the weak side while the centers set picks, Chandler or Wright are highlights waiting to happen.

The Mavs, whose rotation will probably go at least 10 deep on a regular basis, plan to play at a fast pace and challenge foes to keep up.

“Rick’s system is unbelievable, and I think for the personnel that we have, it’s perfect,” said Parsons, who had 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting and 5 assists in 28 minutes against Memphis. “It’s run-and-gun, but he does have a structure. His playbook is big. He puts us in the best situations ... spots on the floor where we can thrive ...

“I think the sky’s the limit for us. I think we’ve got to understand that we’ve got so many guys who can score the ball that if we lock in on the defensive end, we could be special. We have so many guys and so many weapons who can hurt you on the offensive end. If we lock in and focus, we’re going to be tough to beat.”

Mavs used balanced offense to beat Grizzlies

October, 20, 2014
Oct 20
10:11
PM CT
video

DALLAS -- Tyson Chandler and Monta Ellis scored 14 points each to lead seven Dallas players in double figures as the Mavericks beat the Memphis Grizzlies 108-103 on Monday night.

All five Mavericks starters scored 10 or more. In addition to Chandler and Ellis, Chandler Parsons and Jameer Nelson had 11 each and Dirk Nowitzki added 10. Off the bench, Richard Jefferson scored 13 and Al-Farouq Aminu 12.

Quincy Pondexter scored 18 points to lead Memphis. Marc Gasol added 17 points.


(Read full post)


DALLAS -- As the Memphis Grizzlies took the floor for shootaround, the players gravitated to one of the corners of the American Airlines Center court.

“This is the spot, right?” they asked Vince Carter.

Vince Carter
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsVince Carter's finest moment for the Mavs was hitting a game-winning buzzer-beater in last season's playoff series against the Spurs.
“Nah, a little bit over,” Carter replied, basking in the memory of his finest moment with the Dallas Mavericks, that Game 3-winning buzzer-beater in last season’s playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs.

Carter has many fond memories from his three years in Dallas, when the eight-time All-Star reinvented himself as one of the NBA’s best sixth men.

The 37-year-old Carter hoped to continue -- and finish -- his career with the Mavericks, but that’s not the way free agency played out. The Grizzlies swooped in with a take-it-or-leave-it, three-year, $12.3 million offer for Carter while the Mavs were waiting to see if the Houston Rockets would exercise their rights to match Dallas’ deal for Chandler Parsons.

Carter, recognizing that the Mavs couldn’t come close to matching Memphis’ deal if Parsons landed in Dallas, opted to take the sure thing from the Grizzlies, a Western Conference playoff team that needed a sixth man with his scoring and playmaking abilities.

“They offered that young man a lot of money,” Carter said, referring to Parsons. “I kind of understood how it goes from there. It’s a business. I get it, so there’s no hard feelings or anything like that. I understand how it goes. It was a great situation, a great offer from Memphis. It was kind of like, ‘If I pass on this now, what would be left here for me?’ Obviously not much. Had to move on.”

(Read full post)

Pacers rally in 4th quarter, beat Mavericks 98-93

October, 18, 2014
Oct 18
8:53
PM CT

INDIANAPOLIS -- Chris Copeland had 22 points and David West scored 16 to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 98-93 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night.

Indiana erased a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit with an 18-3 run that began with Lavoy Allen hit a jumper with 7:35 to play in the quarter. The Pacers outscored Dallas 37-19 in the final period.

David Sloan scored 12 of his 15 points for the Pacers in the fourth.

The Pacers finally took the lead for good, 95-93, when Allen took the inbounds pass and immediately found Sloan cutting through the lane for the layup.

Richard Jefferson and Gal Mekel led Dallas with 19 points each. Al-Farouq Aminu contributed a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds

West left the game in the third quarter with a right ankle injury. He did not return for the Pacers.


(Read full post)


Mavericks down LeBron, Cavaliers 108-102

October, 17, 2014
Oct 17
9:13
PM CT

CLEVELAND -- Chandler Parsons and Jameer Nelson scored 19 points apiece and the Dallas Mavericks beat Cleveland 108-102 on Friday night, handing the Cavaliers their first loss of the preseason.

Dirk Nowitzki added 16 and nine rebounds for the Mavericks, who stuck with their starters in the fourth quarter when the Cavs rested LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Kevin Love didn't play in Cleveland's third exhibition in four nights.

Irving returned to the lineup after missing three games with a sprained right ankle and led Cleveland with 23 points. Tristan Thompson had 17 and James 12 before sitting out the fourth.

Dallas led from the outset, opening a 16-point lead in the first half. The Cavs, who struggled shooting against a zone defense for most of the night, were still within three points in the final two minutes but Brandan Wright scored underneath and the Mavericks held on.


(Read full post)


Shawn MarionDavid Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty ImagesThe Mavs will face former teammate Shawn Marion as a member of the Cavs for the first time Friday.
DALLAS -- “Weird” is the word used by members of the 2011 title team who are currently employed by the Dallas Mavericks to describe seeing Shawn Marion wearing the wine and gold of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Marion, a man who played such a critical role in delaying LeBron James’ first championship celebration a year, is now a member of King James’ supporting cast.

The Mavs have nothing but fond memories and warm feelings for Marion, who they’ll see tonight when they face the Cavs in a preseason game. Marion didn’t make an All-Star team or put up spectacular numbers during his five years in Dallas, as he did during his run with the Phoenix Suns. But owner Mark Cuban should seriously consider raising the Matrix’s No. 0 to the American Airlines Center rafters when Marion retires to the home he’s building in the Dallas suburbs.

“He’ll go down as one of the all-time great Mavs because of his contributions to a championship team, number one,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said of Marion, who will rest instead of playing Friday night. “But number two is his versatility and his ability to do so many different things that contribute to winning.”

Marion, a four-time All-Star during his 20/10 days in Phoenix, transitioned to being the ultimate role player in Dallas.

Marion averaged 11.6 points, scoring in double figures each season, despite never being an offensive focal point, getting a bunch of buckets off cuts to the basket or from crashing the offensive glass. He ranked among the NBA’s most effective rebounding small forwards, averaging 7.0 per game during his Dallas tenure, leading the Mavs in that category the last three seasons.

(Read full post)

DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki shot his way into the top 10 of the NBA’s all-time scoring list last season and isn’t nearly done yet.

How high can the big German go?

[+] EnlargeRick Carlisle and Dirk Nowitzki
AP Photo/Jason DeCrowRick Carlisle is confident Dirk Nowitzki will catch Wilt Chamberlain on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
“He’s going to be one of the top five scorers of all time, I would guess,” Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said on Sirius XM NBA Radio.

Nowitzki enters his 17th season with 26,786 points. Wilt Chamberlain, the No. 5 scorer in NBA history, scored 31,419 points in his career.

Can Nowitzki score another 4,633 points in his career? That could largely depend on two issues that are directly related: his health and how much longer he plays.

Nowitzki, 36, signed a three-year, $25 million deal this summer. He certainly hasn’t ruled out continuing to play after that contract expires, particularly if he’s still performing at a high level on a team capable of contending for a title.

“Obviously, I’m looking to complete that contract in three years and then re-evaluate and see how the body is holding up,” Nowitzki said earlier this month. “I’m looking forward to having three good years.”

It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Nowitzki, who should move past Hakeem Olajuwon, Elvin Hayes and Moses Malone this season and Shaquille O'Neal in 2015-156, could pass Chamberlain before this deal is done.

Nowitzki scored 1,735 points last season, averaging 21.7 in 80 games. His scoring numbers will likely dip as he continues to fight Father Time and the Mavs try to trim his minutes. He’d need to average 1,544 points over the next three seasons – with an extra free throw mixed in somewhere during that span – to catch Chamberlain by the end of this contract.

With good health, Wilt could be well within Dirk’s reach.

Mavs' Nelson: 'I just have to be aggressive'

October, 16, 2014
Oct 16
10:56
AM CT
DALLAS – Just be Jameer Nelson.

That’s the job description for the new Dallas Mavericks starting point guard in the simplest terms.

[+] EnlargeJameer Nelson
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsJameer Nelson is capable of doing anything the Mavs ask of their point guards.
The Mavs signed Nelson because they wanted a smart, tough floor leader who could provide some penetration, knock down open shots and get the ball where it needed to go. That’s what Nelson did throughout his 10-year tenure with the Orlando Magic.

But Nelson is in the beginning stages of a major transition. He’s learning the Mavs’ schemes on the fly – and they’ve still installed only about half of their offensive sets – and getting accustomed to operating an offense that features a pair of wings who thrive as pick-and-roll initiators and the sweetest-shooting power forward in NBA history.

“Most importantly, I just have to be aggressive in whatever I do,” said Nelson, who has career averages of 12.6 points and 5.4 assists per game. “I’m going to make mistakes. I’m going to mess some things up, but just staying aggressive will help myself and the team.

“The system is new. Things are different. Learning on the fly is a little tough, but I’m smart enough, picking it up pretty fast and learning guys’ sweet spots on the floor, learning when I need to shoot more. All that stuff will come.”

Coach Rick Carlisle, who raves about Nelson’s intangibles, knows that Nelson is feeling his way in a new system with all new teammates. The feeling-out process is about becoming familiar with when and where teammates want the ball and Nelson can get his scoring opportunities in the Mavs’ movement-intensive offense.

“Get comfortable and give us the right balance of penetration, scoring off pick-and-rolls, scoring off spot-ups and he’s got to give us tough defense,” Carlisle said. “He’s very capable of all those things.”

Breaking in a new starting point guard is becoming old hat for the Mavs. Nelson will be the fourth point guard to start opening night for the Mavs in four years, following in the footsteps of Jason Kidd, Darren Collison and Jose Calderon. And who could forget the starting stints for Derek Fisher and Mike James during the 2012-13 campaign? Oh, right, you’d rather forget.

The Mavs very well could be in the market for a premier point guard again next summer, when Rajon Rondo and Goran Dragic should be available in free agency. But Nelson, who has a player option for next season on the two-year, cap-room-exception deal he signed this summer, should be a fine fit to lead a committee that also features veterans Devin Harris and Raymond Felton.

Nelson provides at least reasonable facsimiles of some of the best attributes of the Mavs’ last few opening-night point guards. He’s not among the precious few in NBA history who are on Kidd’s level as a leader, but the muscular, 6-foot Nelson provides toughness, a take-charge personality and would score high on any basketball IQ tests. He’s not as quick as Collison, but Nelson has a knack for getting in the lane and finishing or finding a teammate for an easy bucket. Nelson isn’t as accurate a long-range marksman as Calderon, but he has shot better than 40 percent from 3-point range four times in his career.

In other words, the squatty, 6-foot Nelson is capable of doing anything the Mavs ask of their point guards.

“He’s been around for a long time now and he always plays with certain poise,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “He’s a great shooter, so you can never leave him open. And if he gets in there he’s a good passer – I love his penetrations.

“So with the lineup we’ve got out there, he should get his fair share of pick-and-rolls, he should get his fair share of open shots. And if he’s open, I’ll take a shot up any time.”

In summary, here’s what the Mavs need from Nelson: Be aggressive. Be smart. Be tough. Be yourself.
DALLAS -- The Mavericks’ starting five will make its debut as a full unit in Friday’s preseason game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“We’re going to play our normal group Friday and we’ll go from there,” coach Rick Carlisle said.

It is a certainty that Dirk Nowitzki will not play Saturday against the Indiana Pacers. Nowitzki, who is entering his 17th season, has said that he will not play both ends of back-to-backs during the preseason.

It’d make sense for the Mavs to rest other veterans, such as center Tyson Chandler, shooting guard Monta Ellis and point guards Jameer Nelson and Devin Harris, against the Pacers as well.

For now, the focus is on the starting five building some chemistry after minor injuries to Nowitzki (hip) and Ellis (knee) have prevented the starters from all being on the floor together for game action.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how it works in a game,” Nowitzki said. “We put in a lot of new sets here the last couple of days, so I think it’s going to take a few reps and a few games to get everybody on the same page. But, yeah, it should be a fun game.”

MJ mystified by shorter season talk

October, 15, 2014
Oct 15
11:14
PM CT
video

Michael Jordan was surprised and a bit bewildered to hear LeBron James and Dirk Nowitzki suggest Wednesday that they'd like to see the NBA's 82-game regular season shortened.

"I love both of those guys, but as an owner who played the game, I loved playing,'' Jordan, who owns the Charlotte Hornets, told ESPN during a telephone interview. "If I wasn't playing 82 games, I still would've been playing somewhere else because that's the love for the game I had. As a player, I never thought 82 games was an issue.

"But if that's what they want to do, we as owners and players can evaluate it and talk about it. But we'd make less money as partners. Are they ready to give up money to play fewer games? That's the question, because you can't make the same amount of money playing fewer games.''

When asked about the NBA's experiment with a 44-minute exhibition game Sunday, as opposed to the usual 48 minutes, James and Nowitzki said they'd prefer a shorter season to shorter games.

"It's not the minutes, it's the games," James said before the Cavaliers' preseason victory over Indiana. "The minutes doesn't mean anything. We can play 50-minute games if we had to. It's just the games. We all as players think it's too many games. In our season, 82 games is a lot.''

Nowitzki said he'd recommend that the season be cut from 82 games to the "mid-60s.''


(Read full post)


Mavs' starting five finally together

October, 15, 2014
Oct 15
9:00
AM CT
DALLAS -- Maybe Mavericks fans should cross their fingers, but it looks like the team’s projected starting five will finally get some game action together this weekend.

All of the starters are finally healthy, with Dirk Nowitzki (hip) and Monta Ellis (knee) recovered from their minor injuries. The group should play together for the first time this weekend, although Nowitzki and possibly other veterans don’t plan to play in both games of the back-to-back.

Chandler Parsons
Glenn James/NBAE/Getty ImagesChandler Parsons, entering his fourth season in the NBA, is the least experienced of the Mavs' starting five.
Getting to the regular season as healthy as possible is the top priority, but the preseason is particularly valuable for a group that features three new pieces in the starting five.

“It’s four other new pieces for me,” said point guard Jameer Nelson, who joins small forward Chandler Parsons and center Tyson Chandler as the fresh faces in the starting five. “It’s tough, because you’re trying to learn the offense, you’re trying to learn the defense. Everything is on the fly. Everything is different.

“I just found myself thinking too much, trying to do things the right way and sometimes that takes away from being aggressive. So I just have to be who I am and figure out the defensive schemes and offensive execution as we go along.”

It’s not all new for Chandler, of course, considering that the Mavs haven’t made major scheme changes since No. 6 manned the center spot during the 2010-11 title season. But Nowitzki is the only player left from that team.

(Read full post)

video

Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James see no need for the NBA to experiment with the length of games.

The length of the season? Nowitzki and James would be all for shortening it significantly, although they realize that business realities make that extremely unlikely.

"I think you don't need 82 games to determine the best eight in each conference," Nowitzki said Wednesday. "That could be done a lot quicker, but I always understand that it's about money, and every missed game means missed money for both parties, for the league, for the owners, for the players. I understand all that, and that's why I don't think it's going to change anytime soon."

James, speaking before the Cavs hosted a preseason game against the Indiana Pacers, was adamant the length of games isn't what should be at stake. And he said most of his fellow players are in agreement.

"No. It's not the minutes, it's the games," James said. "The minutes doesn't mean anything. We can play 50-minute games if we had to. It's just the games. We all as players think it's too many games. In our season, 82 games is a lot. But it's not the minutes. Taking away minutes from the game is not going to shorten the game at all.

"Once you go out and play on the floor, it don't matter if you play 22 minutes -- like I may be playing tonight -- or you're playing 40 minutes," James added. "Once you play, it takes a toll on your body. So it's not lessening the minutes, I think it's the games."


(Read full post)


Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban hopes 44-minute games don’t get past the preseason experiment stage in the NBA.

“I can’t get enough NBA,” Cuban told ESPNDallas.com via the Cyber Dust messaging app. “Best entertainment in the world. So more is better.”

PODCAST
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban tells Dan Le Batard about how he became successful, Roger Goodell's role as commissioner of the NFL and more.

Listen Listen
The Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics will play a 44-minute game Sunday -– four minutes shorter than the standard NBA game -– as the league tests a format with fewer minutes and fewer mandatory timeouts.

NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn said in a statement that the league office is following up on a suggestion from the recent coaches’ meeting to consider a shorter format for games.

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters Tuesday that the length of games isn’t nearly as concerning as squeezing so many games into a short period of time, forcing many teams to play more than 20 back-to-backs in an 82-game season.

Cuban, who goes to great lengths looking for ways to help extend players’ careers, understood Spoelstra's point about the value of games but noted that trimming the NBA schedule would have a wide-reaching economic impact.

"More games are always a risk," Cuban said. "But we play in facilities and employ a lot of people who benefit from those games.”

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsD. Nowitzki 6.2
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9