After the Mavericks lost to the Thunder 95-91 on Monday, guard Jason Kidd questioned the respect the defending champions have gotten from the officials this season.
The Mavericks shot 23 fewer free throws than the Thunder in the loss, including two free throws by forward Serge Ibaka with 46.2 seconds remaining in the game. Ibaka’s attempts came following a questionable foul called on Mavericks center Ian Mahinmi.
Kidd may have a point as, on the offensive end, the officials haven't blown their whistles much for the Mavericks, who rank 26th in the NBA in free throw attempts differential (-2.9) and 25th in free throw attempts per game (20.6). Out of the team’s 3,670 total points scored this season, only 16.3 percent have come from the free throw line, ranking them 23rd in the NBA.
The Mavericks’ -2.9 free throw attempts differential are also by far the fewest by a defending champion in the last 10 seasons. They are the first defending champion with a negative such differential since the Celtics in the 2008-09 season, who were eliminated in the conference semifinals that season by the Magic.
However, not all of Dallas’ lack of opportunities at the charity stripe can be directed at the officials. Instead, their style of play this season should take most of the blame as they’ve drawn only 18.6 fouls per game, the seventh fewest among all teams in this season.
The Mavericks have been one of the least aggressive teams this season by not attacking the basket. Dallas ranks 28th in the NBA averaging 23.5 field goals attempts inside 5 feet of the basket. Only the Nets (22.5) and 76ers (22.6) attempt fewer field goals from that distance.
On the flip side, Dallas averages the sixth most field goals attempts per game (48.4) from 10 feet and beyond and has fallen in love with the 3-point shot, averaging the fourth most attempts at 22.2 per game.
The Mavericks host the Knicks on Tuesday night. New York averages the sixth most free throw attempts per game this season at 25.5.