Dallas Mavericks: NBA
Should Tim Duncan be classified as a power forward or a center?
There is no question that Nowitzki's name appears near the top of any list of all-time great power forwards.
As the two future Hall of Famers prepare to face each other in a playoff series for the sixth time, let’s take a look at how they stack up against each other statistically.
Games: Duncan 1,254; Nowitzki 1,188
Points: Nowitzki 26,786; Duncan 24,904
Points per game: Nowitzki 22.5; Duncan 19.9
Rebounds: Duncan 13,940; Nowitzki 9,594
Rebounds per game: Duncan 11.1; Nowitzki 8.1
Assists: Duncan 3,832; Nowitzki 3,139
Assists per game: Duncan 3.1; Nowitzki 2.6
Blocks: Duncan 2,715; Nowitzki 1,095
Blocks per game: Duncan 2.2; Nowitzki 0.9
Steals: Nowitzki 1,037; Duncan 915
Steals per game: Nowitzki 0.9; Duncan 0.7
Field goal percentage: Duncan 50.6; Nowitzki 47.6
3-point percentage: Nowitzki 38.3; Duncan 17.6
Games: Duncan 211; Nowitzki 128
Titles: Duncan 4; Nowitzki 1
NBA Finals appearances: Duncan 5; Nowitzki 2
Points: Duncan 4,614; Nowitzki 3,321
Points per game: Nowitzki 25.9; Duncan 21.9
Rebounds: Duncan 2,522; Nowitzki 1,314
Rebounds per game: Duncan 12.0; Nowitzki 10.3
Assists: Duncan 682; Nowitzki 329
Assists per game: Duncan 3.2; Nowitzki 2.6
Blocks: Duncan 516; Nowitzki 118
Blocks per game: Duncan 2.4; Nowitzki 0.9
Steals: Duncan 150; Nowitzki 139
Steals per game: Nowitzki 1.1; Duncan 0.7
Field goal percentage: Duncan 49.9; Nowitzki 46.3
3-point percentage: Nowitzki 38.0; Duncan 15.6
Games: Nowitzki 80; Duncan 74
Minutes per game: Nowitzki 32.9; Duncan 29.2
Points per game: Nowitzki 21.7; Duncan 15.1
Rebounds per game: Duncan 9.7; Nowitzki 6.2
Assists per game: Duncan 3.0; Nowitzki 2.7
Blocks per game: Duncan 1.9; Nowitzki 0.6
Steals per game: Nowitzki 0.9; Duncan 0.6
Field goal percentage: Nowitzki 49.7; Duncan 49.0
3-point percentage: Nowitzki 39.8; Duncan 0.0
All-Star appearances: Duncan 14; Nowitzki 12
MVP: Duncan 2; Nowitzki 1
Finals MVP: Duncan 3; Nowitzki 1
Rookie of the year: Duncan 1; Nowitzki 0
All-Defensive team: Duncan 14 (eight first team); Nowitzki 0
All-NBA: Duncan 14 (10 first team); Nowitzki 12 (four first team)
Player of the week: Duncan 22; Nowitzki 16
Player of the month: Nowitzki 6; Duncan 3
Regular season head-to-head
Points per game: Duncan 21.6; Nowitzki 21.3
Rebounds per game: Duncan 11.3; Nowitzki 8.3
Assists per game: Duncan 3.0; Nowitzki 2.4
Blocks per game: Duncan 1.8; Nowitzki 1.0
Steals per game: Nowitzki 0.8; Duncan 0.6
Field-goal percentage: Duncan 51.3; Nowitzki 45.6
3-point percentage: Duncan 40.0; Nowitzki 37.5
Wins: Duncan 31; Nowitzki 21
Points per game: Duncan 26.0; Nowitzki 24.5
Rebounds per game: Duncan 12.3; Nowitzki 10.1
Assists per game: Duncan 3.6; Nowitzki 2.3
Blocks per game: Duncan 1.9; Nowitzki 0.6
Steals per game: Nowitzki 1.3; Duncan 0.8
Field-goal percentage: Duncan 53.9; Nowitzki 49.8
3-point percentage: Nowitzki 22.9; Duncan 0.0
Wins: Duncan 14; Nowitzki 12
The Dallas Mavericks meeting the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs means we get the treat of watching living legends Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan compete against each other.
They don't necessarily match up against each other most of the time when the Mavs and Spurs play, but this is a historic occasion that should be appreciated by basketball fans around the world, not just up and down Interstate 35.
"It’s a showcase for two of the 12 greatest players of all time," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "Both of those guys have been more than 10-time All-Stars, league MVP and Finals MVP. There’s only a dozen guys that have done that and you got two of them. They still play like they’re in their prime, both those guys.
"So this is a treat for people who appreciate NBA basketball and the history of the game. You got two guys whose love and respect for the game is so high and their work ethic and standards are so high that they’ve kept it going in their mid-30s as well as anybody I’ve ever seen."
This will make a half-dozen times Dirk Nowitzki has seen the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs. He’s felt some agony and some ecstasy in the previous five series against the Mavericks’ Interstate 35 rival, a four-time title-winning franchise that served as a roadblock on Dallas’ route through the West for years.
They are unforgettable highs and lows from those series from the Spurs, memories that are engrained in the minds of Mavs fans, as well as the face of the franchise.
This is how Nowitzki remembers those Mavs-Spurs series, as shared with ESPNDallas.com a day before he departs to start another series in San Antonio:
Series: West semifinals
Outcome: Spurs in five
Nowitzki’s numbers: 23.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 44.6 FG%
Down Memory Lane with Dirk: “We had no chance.
“We had just beaten Utah in the first round after being down 0-2. I remember when [Karl] Malone missed that last shot in Game 5, we were running around on the court like we won the championship. I mean, it was insane. I was lapping around the arena like twice. It was insane. So just for us to beat those guys, that’s how much respect we had for Utah and Malone and [John] Stockton.
“We lost the first two down there. I remember we went straight from Utah to San Antonio for the first one. It was pretty much over with. The second one, we were kind of around, but not really. And if you want to make a series of it, you’ve got to win Game 3. I remember I was sick. I had food poisoning that game, and then we’re down 0-3. That was basically it.
“We played hard in Game 4 and were able to steal one. The game we stole here, I came back in [after getting a tooth knocked out by a Terry Porter elbow] and we won the game. Then in Game 5, they were just so good defensively. Whatever we tried, they had counters. They were long in there with those two 7-footers. I mean, they were good.”
Series: West finals
Outcome: Spurs in six
Nowitzki’s numbers: 25.3 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 43.1 FG% in three games
Down Memory Lane with Dirk: “I remember we stole Game 1, which was amazing. We were 49-of-50 from the free throw line. That was an amazing, amazing game for us. Game 2, we lost and then here in Game 3 is a big game. Obviously, you want to hold home court, and that’s the game I got hurt.
“But looking back on my career now, it probably was the right decision. Nellie didn’t want me to play. I was young at the time. At this stage of my career, it probably would have made sense to play. I’m old, but then, even I felt it sometimes getting up in timeouts and stuff. It just wasn’t right, just didn’t feel right. Probably looking back on it now, it was the right decision, but it was tough.
“We go down there [for Game 5] and we’re thinking they might close us out. We steal that game. It’s 3-2 and we have a chance here to force Game 7. We were up  in the fourth.
“Nellie played small ball. We played Walt Williams at the 4 and just spread it out and let Nick [Van Exel] and Steve [Nash] drive, and it worked great. Then they subbed in Steve Kerr and he made like three or four 3s in that fourth quarter. They came back, and that was that.
“I don’t know, I might have tried to play in Game 7. You never know, but that was disappointing.”
Series: West semifinals
Outcome: Mavs in seven
Nowitzki’s numbers: 27.1 ppg, 13.3 rpg, 52.7 FG%
Down Memory Lane with Dirk: “Maybe the best over the course of seven games, the best series I’ve had in my career.
“Just felt locked in, felt in my prime and felt whatever coverage they’re doing, I can score on it. That’s how confident I was. What a great series.
“We win both home games here and went up 3-1, but that’s just how good they are. They just keep coming. They win down there and it’s 3-2. We try to close out here, and they just keep coming. They make it 3-3. Jet [Jason Terry] was suspended for one of those games for a little [groin] clip, so that was tough.
“I always remember Jet leaving Ginobili on the wing when Duncan was posting up on me, and he pulled the trigger. I looked when it was in the air -- boom! Bottoms! The place went absolutely nuts.
“Down three and I remember we had [32.9 seconds left], and I was thinking we were kind of in a similar situation in Game 6. We were down three and I shot a bad 3. I was thinking to myself and Avery even said it: ‘In this situation, don’t hoist a bad 3. Make sure you get to the basket. Anything can happen.’
“So I just spun and put my head down on [Bruce] Bowen and said, ‘I’m going to lay this in.’ We can foul again and at least extend the game. And Ginobili just left [Jerry Stackhouse] in the corner and came over and wanted to block it. I was able to kind of luckily muscle it over a little bit. It hit the rim and bounced in. That was probably one of the biggest plays of my career. Made the free throw.
“I don’t think I scored again in overtime. [He actually hit two free throws to put the Mavs up eight with 9.9 seconds left, giving him 37 points for the game.] The boys were great. We subbed in Gana [Diop] and he made some big stops on Duncan. He had one or two big offensive rebounds. Stack made two pull-ups, I remember.
“Yeah, that was a fun game, fun series for me. I mean, to win a Game 7 in that building is about as sweet as it gets for me.”
Series: West first round
Outcome: Mavs in five
Nowitzki’s numbers: 19.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, .493 FG%
Down Memory Lane with Dirk: “Ginobili was hurt and they really never had enough weapons to beat us that year. I don’t think they had enough weapons without him.
“We tried to take Duncan and [Tony] Parker out as much as we could, and it worked really well. With them without Ginobili, it made it a little easier.”
Series: West first round
Outcome: Spurs in six
Nowitzki’s numbers: 26.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 54.7 FG%
Down Memory Lane with Dirk: “It was a little messed up, because we’d just traded for Caron [Butler] and DeShawn [Stevenson] and [Brendan] Haywood and we were actually the No. 2 seed. They played without Ginobili most of the season, and right at the right time he gets healthy. They’re the 7 seed, we’re the 2 seed.
“That’s obviously a tough matchup for any 2 seed, to run into the Spurs healthy at the right time.
“We made some mistakes, but they were good. They were healthy at the right time.
“We wanted to win and force it here and at least force it to a Game 7. I remember we were so good on the road after we traded for these guys, and we just needed to win one road game. We lost all three games down there and that ultimately sealed it. They stole Game 2 up here and we figured we’ve got three chances to steal a game down there, because we’re pretty good on the road. They won all three down there, and that’s what ultimately lost us that series.”
That’s a fact the Mavs are trying to forget.
Shawn Marion said. “Don’t nobody have a victory in the postseason yet. So that’s our objective: Go out there and win the first game.”
Marion, the Mavs’ stopper, went into shutdown defense mode when the media attempted to delve into the specific challenges presented by a San Antonio squad that had the NBA’s best regular-season record.
“All I know is we play Sunday at 12 o’clock,” Marion said. “Y’all going to be there? Sounds good to me. I’m not saying nothing else. It’s a new season. That’s all that really matters. And we’re ready.”
There’s no denying that the Spurs have dominated Dallas recently, rolling to those nine straight wins by an average margin of almost 15 points. But there’s no point in the Mavs dwelling on just how slim their odds seem to be of winning this series.
Jose Calderon vs. Tony Parker: This is the biggest mismatch of the series. Calderon, a subpar defender, struggles to guard a lot of point guards. He really gets exploited by Parker, who averaged 23.3 points on 54.2 percent shooting in three games against the Mavs this season. That was Parker's highest scoring average against any team he faced more than once this season. Parker loves pushing the pace and running pick-and-rolls, both of which present major problems for Calderon, whose plus-minus was minus-40 in the Mavs' four losses to the Spurs, including minus-25 in 86 minutes with Parker on the floor. If Calderon isn't lighting it up from long range, coach Rick Carlisle should seriously consider giving Devin Harris a bigger share of the minutes.
Monta Ellis vs. Danny Green: On paper, this is the Mavs' best matchup. It hasn't worked out that way on the floor, however. Green is a lethal 3-point shooter who has especially lit it up against the Mavs, going 12-of-20 from long distance against Dallas this season. The numbers indicate he has also done a good job defending Ellis, who has shot only 38.9 percent from the field when Green is in the game. The Mavs have been outscored by 60 points in the 81 minutes in which Ellis and Green have both been on the court. The Mavs probably wouldn't be in the playoffs without Ellis, a better fit than the Dallas front office believed even when they signed him to a three-year, $25 million deal. They'll need a huge series from Ellis -- who seems to thrive under pressure -- to have a chance to pull off a stunning upset over the Spurs.
Shawn Marion vs. Kawhi Leonard: Leonard looks a lot like a young Marion -- a freakish, 6-foot-7 athlete who is a versatile defender and efficient offensive weapon. That's an awfully tough matchup for the 35-year-old version of "The Matrix." Leonard gets overshadowed by the Spurs' living legends on the roster, but he's a 22-year-old rising star. His all-around skills were on full display during the Spurs' recent trip to Dallas, on which Leonard stuffed the box score for 16 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals. By comparison, Marion had a total of 21 points, 13 rebounds and two assists in three games against San Antonio this season.
Dirk Nowitzki vs. Tim Duncan: The two all-time greats don't actually match up with each other much these days, but it will be a treat to watch a pair of surefire Hall of Famers compete in a playoff series for the sixth time in their careers. The 37-year-old Duncan's numbers have dipped in recent seasons, but that's primarily because the priority for him is being as fresh as possible for the playoffs. He's still a dominant defensive presence and capable of putting up a 20-point, 15-rebound line, the way he did in the Spurs' last win over the Mavs. Nowitzki, an All-Star again this season after a one-year, injury-related hiatus, remains one of the most distinct and effective offensive threats in the league. However, Nowitzki has averaged only 15.4 points against the Spurs in the past three seasons, during which San Antonio has won 10 of 12 meetings.
This time, however, the home team celebrated once the buzzer sounded.
Ellis missed a wide-open 18-footer in the final second of overtime, landing the Dallas Mavericks in the West's 8-seed after a 106-105 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Mavs ran the same play as they did when Ellis drilled a buzzer-beater to beat the Portland Trail Blazers on Dec. 7, just from the opposite sideline.
Once again, Ellis came off a pick and got wide open in the middle of the floor. It was the shot the Mavs wanted by the hot hand they hoped could win the game for them after Ellis had drilled a clutch 3 to tie it with 13 seconds remaining in regulation, then scored seven points in the extra frame.
"It was a great shot," Ellis said. "It just didn’t go down."
That came as quite a surprise to Ellis, who never lacks for confidence. That was quite clear by the way he knocked down that 3 from the right wing to tie it up late in regulation.
Up to that point, Ellis had a horrible shooting night, missing 11 of his first 15 field goal attempts. But a short-term memory is required for any player who embraces the responsibility of taking clutch shots.
That description definitely fits Ellis, whose 151 clutch points (defined as coming in the final five minutes, score within five points) ranked behind only MVP front-runner Kevin Durant and LeBron James this season.
"Hey, he’s an attacker," coach Rick Carlisle said. "I encourage all our guys to stay process-oriented, stay aggressive, step into shots that are there. He had a lot of good shots that were near-misses that were just in and out. The last one’s a great example."
After Ellis drilled the tying 3 late in regulation, he got hot in overtime, taking over the game for a stretch to help the Mavs build a four-point lead. Within a span of 109 seconds, Ellis hit a long 2, another 3 from the right wing and a driving layup.
But Ellis missed his last two shots in the final seven seconds, much to the surprise of the Mavs, particularly on the wide-open buzzer-beater.
"The way he’d been shooting it, I really thought it was going to go in," Carlisle said. "He played with such courage in the fourth quarter. I doubt we’d be in the position we were in with a chance to win it if it hadn’t [been] for him. He’s just got to keep hoisting those up, because he’s going to make more than he misses."
The protected first-round pick the Mavs gave up in the trade, which has since been shipped from the Los Angeles Lakers to the Houston Rockets to the Oklahoma City Thunder, is officially OKC’s property in this draft.
The pick was top-20 protected through 2017, so the Mavs had to finish with one of the NBA’s top 10 records to unload the pick this season. With the Toronto Raptors and Chicago Bulls both losing their regular-season finales, the 49-33 Mavs have the league’s 10th-best record, giving the pick to Oklahoma City.
Had the Bulls or Raptors won, there would have been a random drawing to break the tie with the Mavs and determine the draft order. If the Mavs won the drawing, they wouldn’t have lost the pick this year.
It was the Mavs’ preference to part with the pick this season.
“I’d rather just get it over with,” owner Mark Cuban said before the Mavs’ loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. “I’m fine just getting it out of the way so it’s no longer over our head or an issue.”
The Mavs owing Oklahoma City a protected pick prevented Dallas from discussing giving up future first-round picks in trade talks. An NBA rule prevent teams from trading first-round picks in consecutive years, so the earliest first-rounder the Mavs can deal now would be their 2016 pick.
Dirk Nowitzki especially needs it.
The Mavs’ 35-year-old star played a season-high 46 minutes in Wednesday’s 106-105 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, a rugged game that decided the order of the West’s last two playoff seeds. Nowitzki played every second of the fourth quarter and overtime despite bruising his right knee in the first half when he banged it against Memphis center Marc Gasol’s bulky knee brace.
“It’s just a bruise,” said Nowitzki, who scored 30 points on 12-of-22 shooting in the loss. “Gasol is wearing that huge brace, and I ran into it like four times, I think. We’ve got plenty of time until Sunday, obviously. I’ll take it easy tomorrow and get ready to play Sunday.”
Nowitzki wore a rubber knee brace in the second half, saying he just wanted something to protect the knee if he banged it again. He said the knee didn’t bother him much after halftime.
“Hey, this guy’s a machine,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He don’t come out of games unless there’s something really wrong. I’ve never seen a guy as resilient as him when it comes to those kinds of things with injuries. It’s another reason he’s one of the all-time greats.”
MEMPHIS -- The NBA announced the schedule for the Dallas Mavericks-San Antonio Spurs series, which starts at noon Sunday at the AT&T Center.
Game 1: Dallas at San Antonio, noon, Sunday, April 20
Game 2: Dallas at San Antonio, 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 23
Game 3: San Antonio at Dallas, 3:30 p.m., Saturday, April 26
Game 4: San Antonio at Dallas, 8:30 p.m., Monday, April 28
Game 5 (if necessary): Dallas at San Antonio, TBD, Wednesday, April 30
Game 6 (if necessary): San Antonio at Dallas, TBD, Friday, May 2
Game 7 (if necessary): Dallas at San Antonio, TBD, Sunday, May 4
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The fight to avoid the Western Conference’s 8-seed went down to the wire, with the Dallas Mavericks landing there after a 106-105 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
How it happened: The Grizzlies pulled out a heart-pounding win in a game that had the intensity of a playoff game.
Memphis point guard Mike Conley scored the game-winning points by hitting a pair of free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining after a coast-to-coast drive.
Mavs guard Monta Ellis, whose 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining in regulation tied the score, was magnificent throughout most of overtime. However, he missed his last two shots in the final minute, including a wide-open 20-footer at the buzzer.
Power forward Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 27 points and 14 rebounds. Center Marc Gasol nearly had a triple-double with 19 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Conley added 22 points and five assists.
Mavs power forward Dirk Nowitzki scored a game-high 30 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 46 seconds remaining in overtime. Ellis scored seven of his 18 points in overtime.
Ellis had an off night for the first 47 minutes, but he drilled that cold-blooded 3-pointer to tie the score with 13 seconds remaining in regulation. Randolph missed a long baseline fadeaway on the next possession, and the Grizzlies weren’t able to get a shot off after inbounding with 0.9 seconds remaining when the rebound went out of bounds off the Mavs.
The Mavs led by four with two minutes remaining in overtime and three after Nowitzki’s 3 in the final minute, but Dallas couldn’t close the door.
What it means: The Grizzlies get the 7-seed and the Mavs get the 8-seed that comes with a first-round date against the San Antonio Spurs. Memphis will face the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round. Dallas (49-33) fell short of 50 wins for the third consecutive season after hitting the milestone 11 straight times. The Grizzlies (50-32) finished the regular season with a franchise-record 14-game home winning streak.
Play of the game: Conley’s frantic drive in transition resulted in a foul by Vince Carter to send Conley to the line for the game-winning free throws with 1.1 seconds remaining. Conley grabbed the rebound after a missed Ellis jumper with 6.7 seconds on the clock and raced coast to coast.
Stat of the night: The Mavs played 22 games that were decided by three or fewer points this season (11 wins, 11 losses). According to Elias Sports Bureau research, that is the most such games for any team in the league and the second-most in a single season in the Mavericks’ franchise history (25 in 1983-84).
Memphis was at full strength for only one of those games, and that was way back on Nov. 2, when the Grizzlies were stumbling out of the gates at the beginning of the season.
The Mavs had the good fortune to face the Grizzlies while Memphis was missing one of its stars in the other two meetings. Center Marc Gasol missed the Grizzlies’ Dec. 18 loss in Dallas. Point guard Mike Conley sat out when the Mavs won at FedExForum on Feb. 5.
“This time around, they look like a playoff team,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s going to be a tough game. That’s all right. The more tough games we can play headed into the playoffs, that should help us. We’re going to have to be ready.”
The Grizzlies have had to be one of the best teams in the league since the calendar flipped to 2014 to earn a playoff spot in the West. Memphis was 13-17 on Dec. 31, including 10-13 without Gasol. Since then, the Grizzlies are 36-15, with only the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers posting a better record in that span.
1. How much of a difference does it make whether the Mavs face the Thunder or Spurs?
Gutierrez: It makes a dramatic difference. Dallas has the advantage in coaching and bench support against Oklahoma City. At best, they're even in those categories against San Antonio. The Spurs struggle against younger and athletic teams. No one will confuse the Mavericks as either of those. Dallas has lost nine straight to their neighbors to the south. Meanwhile, the recent run of success against the Thunder should give the Mavericks more confidence if they were to matchup in the first round. I think a series against San Antonio would be death by paper cuts, while a series against Oklahoma City would potentially be death by technical knockout.
Taylor: The Mavs really have no chance to beat San Antonio in a seven-game series. The Spurs are too disciplined and too good offensively and defensively for the Mavs to beat them. The have virtually no chance to beat Oklahoma City, but it's more of a chance than they have to beat San Antonio. First, they beat Oklahoma City the last two times they've played them even though OKC didn't have its full squad either time. So much of professional sports is about confidence. The Mavs believe they can beat Oklahoma City. In their heart of hearts, I don't know that they believe they can beat the Spurs. They will compete, but I don’t know if they believe when it comes to San Antonio.
MacMahon: The Mavs wouldn’t be favored in either series, but they’d at least have a shooter’s chance against the Thunder. They’d be in serious jeopardy of getting swept by the Spurs. You can debate how much stock should be put in Dallas’ two March wins over Oklahoma City, but they at least gave the Mavs reason to believe they can beat the Thunder. That doesn’t exist against a San Antonio team that hasn’t lost to the Mavs since Jason Kidd was playing point guard in Dallas. The Mavs’ ball movement gives the Thunder big problems. If the Mavs are hot from 3-point range, they’ve got a shot to beat the Thunder.
Some truths don’t need to be said out loud.
The chance to claim the seventh seed in the Western Conference playoffs -- and not be forced to make a first-round trip to San Antonio -- is obviously major motivational fodder for the Mavs entering Wednesday night’s regular-season finale against the Memphis Grizzlies. The loser faces the Spurs, who swept both the Mavs and Grizzlies this season and have won their past nine meetings with Dallas.
Oklahoma City Thunder or Los Angeles Clippers is no treat, but the Mavs’ odds are much better against those potential No. 2 seeds than if they match up with the Spurs. But that isn’t the only reason this is a big game for the Mavs.
The Mavs set 50 wins as a goal at the beginning of the season, and they’re fired up about the chance to accomplish that in their 82nd game.
Not long ago, that seemed like a bare-minimum expectation for the Mavs, who won at least 50 games in 11 straight seasons before going 36-30 in the lockout-shortened season and 41-41 with last season’s temp-filled roster. But the days of Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavs joining Bill Russell’s Boston Celtics, Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers and Tim Duncan’s San Antonio Spurs as the only teams to have a decade-long run of such seasons feel distant now.
For a franchise trying to rebuild a championship contender, 50 wins is a major milestone.
Nobody refers to Ellis as an analytics antihero anymore or calls him a selfish gunner who values volume scoring over winning after he’s played a critical role in the Dallas Mavericks returning to the playoffs. But Ellis distinctly remembers all those who doubted whether he could be a valuable member of a winning franchise, present company included.
“That’s why I go out every night and play this game of basketball -- for my teammates and this organization -- because all of them critics,” Ellis said Tuesday before the Mavs traveled to Memphis for a regular-season finale that will determine the order of the West’s last two playoff seeds and whether Dallas accomplishes its goal of winning 50 games. “I love proving people wrong, and this year we have done that. ...
Ellis still bristles about the criticism of his game, but it was factually based. What he’s actually proven is that he can adapt and thrive under better circumstances.
There is no question that Ellis was one of the least efficient scorers in the NBA in recent seasons, especially during his last campaign in Milwaukee. The facts were that his field-goal percentage (41.6) was the second lowest in the league among 15-plus-ppg scorers, his 3-point percentage (28.7) was the worst among qualifiers and he hit the lowest percentage of off-the-dribble jumpers (32.3) of any player who jacked up at least 250 such shots.
The facts are that Ellis, whose points (19.0) and assists (5.8) are actually down slightly from last season, has become a significantly more efficient scorer across the board this season. He’s shooting a very respectable 45.2 percent from the floor, 32.7 percent from 3-point range and 38.8 percent on off-the-dribble jumpers, which ranks 16th of the 33 players with at least 250 such attempts, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.
Play Podcast Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.
Play Podcast Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.
Play Podcast Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.
Play Podcast ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.
Play Podcast Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
Play Podcast ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.