DALLAS – The Mavericks might have little choice but to play some smallball tonight if a strained right hip flexor sidelines backup big man Brendan Haywood.
The numbers indicate that’s bad news. Really bad news.
The Mavericks never used a lineup during the regular season that didn’t have Tyson Chandler, Haywood or Ian Mahinmi on the floor. They’ve briefly experimented with four center-less lineups during the postseason – and none of them worked.
A look at those lineups, with the number provided by NBA.com’s StatsCube:
Marion/Nowitzki/Jason Kidd/Terry/Barea – Net rating of minus-74.81 in four minutes.
Marion/Nowitzki/Peja Stojakovic/Terry/Barea – Net rating of minus-153.49 in two minutes.
Marion/Nowitzki/Stevenson/Terry/Kidd – Net rating of minus-39.02 in two minutes.
The 103-second span without a center so far in the Finals were an epic failure for the Mavs. Miami went on a 7-0 run to increase its lead to 15 – setting the stage for the Mavs’ stunning comeback – when the Marion/Nowitzki/Kidd/Terry/Barea quintet was on the court in Game 3.
“We haven’t even done that in practice, so it kind of threw everybody off because we didn’t know which guy was going to be in which position,” said the 6-foot-7 Marion, who serves as the de facto center in those fivesomes. “At the same time, we’ve just got to play ball. We can’t worry about play calls and positions. We’ve just got to go out there and play and use our basketball instincts to get through all that stuff.”
Marion believes the smallball Mavs can take advantage of many offensive opportunities, especially if the Heat stay big. However, the Mavs’ offensive numbers without a big man on the floor have been ugly.
But the boards are an even bigger concern. Three of the Mavs’ four smallball lineups have been limited to 40 percent or fewer of the available rebounds.
“We’re going to have to scramble,” Carlisle said. “We’re going to have to concentrate on five guys rebounding the ball defensively.”
More than anything, the stats indicate the Mavs are going to have to hope Tyson Chandler stays out of foul trouble if Haywood can’t play.