Should Mavs make three-guard lineup a staple?

April, 1, 2010
4/01/10
10:15
AM CT
The three-guard lineup might be too small, too unconventional to become a regular part of the rotation.

But it's been too effective recently to just dismiss the idea.

Rick Carlisle has used the three-guard look on occasion over the last two years, but instead of J.J. Barea, Rodrigue Beaubois now joins Jason Kidd and Jason Terry. The results, at least in small samples, have been remarkable.

That trio sparked a 22-3 run to start the fourth quarter of last week's win over the Clippers, turning a one-point deficit into a comfortable lead. That trio, with Beaubois in unstoppable mode, ran Golden State out of the gym in the second quarter. That trio, with Dirk Nowitzki doing a lot of heavy lifting, played almost the entire fourth quarter and overtime last night in Memphis as the Mavs rallied from a double-digit deficit for the win.

Great things tend to happen when Kidd is surrounded by scorers who play at 100 mph.

The problem is that the three-guard group, on paper, creates poor matchups for the Mavs on the defensive end. When I asked after the Golden State game whether it could become a regular staple, a Mavs insider responded with a rhetorical question: Who's gonna guard Carmelo?

The answer would be Kidd, but then you're asking a 37-year-old to defend an All-Star with a four-inch height advantage. However, mismatches weren't a problem in Memphis, when the Mavs forced overtime with a 15-2 run to end regulation despite having to guard a pair of big, bad wing scorers in Grizzlies stars O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay.

Rim-protecting big man Brendan Haywood, who was on the floor during the runs against the Clippers and Grizzlies, can make up for some of the defensive deficiencies. It's a lot easier to play the passing lanes and get up in a guy's grill when you know a long-armed 7-footer has your back.

Offensively, there aren't many lineups in the league more fun to watch, especially when Dirk is playing power forward. Kidd playing point forward with two sweet-shooting blurs flanking him and the best finesse power forward in NBA history trailing is worth the price of admission.

That doesn't mean fans should expect to see the three-guard group every game. But it's been productive enough to at least give Carlisle something to consider.

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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