Mavericks: Indiana Pacers
Ian Mahinmi is the last member of the Mavericks’ championship team left standing in these playoffs.
With Mahinmi watching all but four minutes from the bench, his Pacers eliminated the Knicks in Game 6, ending a miserable series for two integral pieces of the 2011 title team.
Indiana’s Roy Hibbert dominated Tyson Chandler before the Knicks big man fouled out with 3:12 remaining. Jason Kidd was benched for the second half for the second straight game and went scoreless for the 10th consecutive game, dating to Game 2 of the first round.
Hibbert had 21 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks in the series finale. Chandler had two points and six rebounds, limited to only 23 minutes because of foul trouble.
For the series, Hibbert averaged 13.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.2 blocks, compared to 6.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks for Chandler. The Knicks were outscored by 23 points with Chandler on the floor in the series, including 17 in Game 6.
The 40-year-old Kidd had a historically horrible offensive performance during these playoffs. He averaged 0.9 points and shot 12 percent from the floor, the lowest postseason field goal percentage for a player with at least 25 attempts since 1947.
This might not quiet the outcry about Mark Cuban opting to break up the Mavs’ championship team – that’d probably require signing a superstar this summer – but it definitely deadens the angry mob’s factual ammunition.
Here is what Cuban feared: The Mavs would look a lot like the Boston Celtics or New York Knicks, veteran teams who weren’t good enough to be true contenders and have extremely limited avenues to improve because of their bloated payrolls and the restrictive rules of the new collective bargaining agreement.
Imagine if the Mavs paid the price to keep all of their championship pieces. Chandler, Kidd, Jason Terry, J.J. Barea and Caron Butler will cost a total of $35.1 million next season, which would put the Mavs in luxury-tax territory, handcuffing them this summer. Only Butler’s $8 million salary would come off the books in 2014-15.
With a Dirk Nowitzki as the lone star surrounded by an supporting cast of players who are primarily also on the decline, do you really believe the Mavs would have been a threat to come out of the West?
You can make a strong case that it’d have been better for the Mavs to have kept the title core together and at least be a playoff team than the mediocre mess the franchise put on the floor this season. But this really isn’t a Chandler vs. Chris Kaman conversation. It’s a risk/reward discussion.
In Cuban’s opinion, the potential reward didn’t justify the risk of sacrificing roster flexibility if they kept the championship team intact. Finances were only a factor in the post-lockout decisions as they related to limiting the Mavs’ upgrade options.
Cuban decided to dream big, putting immense pressure on him to pull off a superstar acquisition this summer. That ultimately needs to happen to justify stripping down the title team as a good decision.
But if you think the Mavs broke up a dynasty, you clearly didn’t watch much of the first two rounds of these playoffs.
Jason Kidd: It’s gotten to the point that Knicks coach Mike Woodson is being widely praised for benching Kidd during the second half of New York’s series-extending Game 5 win over the Pacers.
Kidd failed to score for the ninth consecutive game, missing a layup in the second quarter. The missed shot was the only stat Kidd recorded during his 5:20 of playing time.
Woodson opted to play rookie Chris Copeland instead of Kidd. Copeland responded by giving the Knicks a much-needed spark, scoring 13 points in 19 minutes. Kidd has scored a total of 11 points in 11 games this postseason, shooting 12 percent from the floor.
Tyson Chandler: Chandler told reporters he’d be fine for Game 6 despite a nasty fall on his back when he got his shot blocked by Indiana’s Roy Hibbert.
Chandler didn’t put up impressive numbers (two points, 1-4 FG, eight rebounds, two blocks), but neither did Hibbert, who had nine points on 3-of-7 shooting and seven rebounds. Both big men got in foul trouble, limiting Chandler to 27 minutes and Hibbert to 31.
Ian Mahinmi: With Hibbert in foul trouble, Mahinmi played 17 minutes, his high this postseason.
Mahinmi had five points, three rebounds and a blocked shot, but his plus-minus illustrated Hibbert’s importance as Indiana’s defense anchor. The Pacers were outscored by 10 points with Mahinmi on the floor.
Jason Kidd: The drought continues.
Kidd went scoreless for the eighth straight game. He’s 0-of-16 from the floor and 0-of-10 from 3-point range over 177 minutes during that span. The Knicks have been outscored by 25 points with the 40-year-old future Hall of Famer on the floor in those eight games.
Kidd’s numbers in the Knicks’ Game 4 loss to the Pacers: three assists, one rebound, one steal, two missed shots and a minus-9 plus-minus in 16 minutes.
Tyson Chandler: The Knicks gave him a lot more help, but Chandler more than held his own in the big man matchup after being dominated by Roy Hibbert in Game 3.
Chandler put up his first double-double of the postseason, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He also matched high during these playoffs with three blocks.
Hibbert’s line: six points on 2-of-8 shooting, 11 rebounds, three blocks and two assists.
Ian Mahinmi: Mahinmi gave the Pacers 10 energetic minutes off the bench, grabbing six rebounds, blocking two shots and scoring two points.
Tyson Chandler: The Knicks are in trouble if Chandler keeps losing the big man matchup in such lopsided fashion. He had nine points and five rebounds in New York’s Game 3 loss, compared to 24 and 12 from Indiana center Roy Hibbert.
A sample of ESPNNewYork.com's take on the Chandler-Hibbert matchup:
Mike Woodson hardly ever criticizes his players in public.
But the New York Knicks coach broke protocol following Game 1 of the Indiana Pacers series.
After he watched Indiana's Roy Hibbert outplay Tyson Chandler in the series opener, Woodson said, "I've got to get Tyson (Chandler) playing better than Hibbert."
So far, Woodson's fallen far short of that goal.
Hibbert's been one of the best players in this young series. And some of his success has come at Chandler's expense.
In the Pacers' Game 3 win, Hibbert poured in 24 points and pulled down 12 rebounds (eight offensive); the Pacers outscored the Knicks by 20 with their big man on the floor.
"He kind of had his way," Woodson said after Game 3, "and that's got to change."
The Knicks say that they failed to execute their defensive schemes against Hibbert in Game 3. They intended to trap Hibbert and the other Pacers bigs, just as they had in Game 2.
Instead, they left members of their front line vulnerable in one-on-one matchups and left the rim exposed thanks to poor rotations.
The Knicks' lax approach helped Indiana dominate the boards (53-40) and beat New York on second-chance points (20-10).
"We’re not trapping (the Pacers' bigs), then we’re in a tough spot," Chandler said.
That's a big problem that the Knicks need to handle heading into Game 4.
But they also need a better effort from Chandler if he gets matched up against Hibbert.
Hibbert scored on at least three post moves in which Chandler was matched up with him, one-on-one, in Game 3.
It was hard not to notice Hibbert scoring directly over Chandler, the 2011-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Jason Kidd: The scoreless streak is up to seven games and 31 quarters after Kidd missed his lone shot in Game 3.
Kidd had six rebounds, two assists and two steals in 20 minutes, but it’s hard to make a case that the 40-year-old future Hall of Famer helped the Knicks with another doughnut in the points column. Kidd matched Carmelo Anthony for the worst plus-minus (minus-16) in the loss to the Pacers.
Ian Mahinmi: With Hibbert dominating, the Pacers didn’t need much from their backup big man. Mahinmi only played six minutes, scoring two points and grabbing four rebounds.
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Kidd, who hasn’t scored since the first quarter of Game 2 in the first round, did manage to make an impact on the Knicks’ series-evening win over the Pacers despite missing all three of his shots. Kidd’s contributions aren’t reflected by his unimpressive numbers (four assists, two rebounds, two steals in 24 minutes).
The Knicks were plus-20 with Kidd on the floor. He made a few critical hustle plays to help the Knicks go on their 30-2 run in the second half that put away the Pacers, including an offensive rebound and pretty feed to Tyson Chandler for a dunk at the end of the third quarter.
Tyson Chandler: Like Kidd, Chandler didn’t put up impressive numbers, but his presence was felt in the Knicks’ Game 2 win.
Chandler had only eight points and four rebounds, but the Knicks were plus-21 in his 31 minutes. He played a key role in holding Pacers center Roy Hibbert to six points on 3-of-7 shooting.
Ian Mahinmi: The only statistic Mahinmi recorded in five Game 2 minutes was one turnover.
Jason Kidd: The Knicks didn’t sign Jason Kidd for his scoring, but it’d sure help New York’s cause if the 40-year-old point guard put the ball in the basket every once in a while.
Kidd went scoreless for the fifth consecutive game in the Knicks’ Game 1 loss to the Indiana Pacers. He was 0-of-1 from the floor in 17 minutes, grabbing two rebounds, dishing out one assist and committing one turnover.
Kidd’s last points came on a 3-pointer in the first quarter of the Knicks’ Game 2 win over the Boston Celtics in the first round. He has played 137 minutes and missed 11 shots since then.
Tyson Chandler: ESPNNewYork.com described Chandler as “practically invisible” in Game 1.
Chandler’s line in the loss to the Pacers: four points, three rebounds, two blocks, two turnovers and one steal before fouling out after 28 minutes. Round 1 of the heavyweight battle between Chandler and Roy Hibbert (14 points, 6-9 FG, eight rebounds, five blocks, four assists) was a knockout.
Ian Mahinmi: Maybe the most stunning stat of the Pacers-Knicks series opener was that Mahinmi didn’t commit a foul in his nine minutes.
He didn’t do much else, either: no points, no shots, one rebound, one block and one turnover. The Pacers did outscore the Knicks by eight with Mahinmi on the floor, though.
Tyson Chandler: This looked like the Chandler who played such a critical role in the Mavs’ title run. This was the Chandler the Knicks envisioned when they signed him to a rich four-year deal.
Chandler came up with nine points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and a handful of clutch plays that didn’t necessarily show up in the box score to help the Knicks close out the Celtics for their first playoff series win since 2000.
“I felt 100 percent tonight,” Chandler told reporters. “It’s absolutely the best I’ve felt the entire playoffs, obviously coming off the neck injury. Tonight was the first time I came in the game feeling 100 percent and being able to go through my regular routine.”
Jason Kidd: Kidd’s scoreless drought reached four consecutive games. He averaged only 1.8 points per game in the series and hasn’t scored since hitting a 3-pointer during the first quarter of Game 2.
At this point, Kidd is the Knicks’ third point guard behind Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni. The Knicks were outscored by nine in Kidd’s 16 Game 6 minutes, with him contributing three rebounds, one steal, one assist and three turnovers.
Jason Terry: JET at least went out with his pride intact.
Terry got off to a slow start in his first playoff series with the Celtics – including a scoreless Game 1 – but he finished strong. He scored 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting in 24 minutes in Game 6. In three elimination games, Terry averaged 16.3 points on 53.1 percent shooting.
However, Terry and the Celtics weren’t able to pull off a historic comeback. Not from an 0-3 series deficit or from a 26-point hole in Game 6, but they gave the Knicks a serious scare in both cases.
“That’s what the definition of a true Celtic is. Never say never, never say die. I’m proud to wear this uniform.”
Caron Butler: Butler scored 14 points on 7-of-16 shooting in the Clippers’ season-ending Game 6 loss to the Grizzlies.
Butler had a pretty disappointing series, averaging 8.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and failing to dish out a single assist in six games.
Ian Mahinmi: Mahinmi had no points on 0-of-3 shooting, three rebounds and two blocks in 10 minutes off the bench as the Pacers closed out the Hawks.
DeShawn Stevenson: He was DNP-CD’d as the Hawks’ season ended. Stevenson played a total of 61 seconds in the final four games of the series.
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Terry followed up his Game 4 overtime heroics with a 17-point, four-rebound, three-assist, no-turnover, multi-wing performance in the Celtics’ win over the Knicks that forced the series back to Boston. Terry’s 5-of-9 shooting from 3-point range was critical to the Celtics building a double-digit lead that was too large for the Knicks to overcome.
"I'm a 14-year veteran," Terry said on TNT moments after the win. "If you don't know who I am by now, you will after this series."
That was apparently in response to Knicks sixth man J.R. Smith, who was suspended for Game 4 because of an elbow that connected with Terry’s head and stunk it up in Game 5, claiming that he didn’t know who Terry was.
Of course, JET has always been one of the league’s best at jawing. Case in point: He repeatedly referenced the Red Sox’s comeback from a 3-0 deficit against the New York Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series, quoting “the great Kevin Millar” about the pressure shifting with a Game 5 win.
Jason Kidd: Mouthy sixth man Smith’s miserable performance got a lot of attention, but Kidd didn’t exactly bring much off the bench, either.
In fact, this ranked among the worst playoff performances of Kidd’s Hall of Fame career.
The 40-year-old went scoreless in 21 minutes, missing all four shot attempts. His only other stats: two rebounds, one block, one turnover and one foul. No assists. His plus-minus was a team-worst minus-14.
Tyson Chandler: Having chipped off rust and worked his way back into shape after a neck injury caused him to miss 16 of 20 games entering the playoffs, Chandler came up with a typical Chandler outing.
The big man had eight points on 3-of-5 shooting, 11 rebounds and three steals in 34 minutes. The Knicks were plus-8 with the 7-footer on the floor.
"I felt great," he said. "This game is probably the best I've felt. I felt lively, my legs felt good."
DeShawn Stevenson: Stevenson played a grand total of 16 seconds in the Hawks’ tie-breaking Game 5 loss to the Pacers. He did manage to get up a shot that he missed.
Ian Mahinmi: Mahinmi played only 9:27 in the Pacers’ win. He probably would have seen more minutes if he didn’t pick up five fouls. He finished with two points, two rebounds and a block.
DeShawn Stevenson: He dropped out of the rotation when the series went to Atlanta. After a DNP-CD in Game 3, Stevenson played 45 seconds in Game 4. He did at least manage to avoid a trillionire stat line, grabbing one rebound in the Hawks’ series-tying win.
Ian Mahinmi: Mahinmi got his most playing time of the series, logging 12 minutes in the Pacers’ loss. He had three points, four rebounds, a block, a turnover and four fouls.
DeShawn Stevenson: Stevenson hit one of his two 3-point attempts and grabbed five rebounds during 19 minutes off the bench in the Hawks’ lopsided loss to the Pacers. The problem was the defensive stopper couldn’t stop Indiana star Paul George, who torched the Hawks for 27 points.
That’s a two-game trend. According to NBA.com, George has 31 points on 12-of-21 shooting in 53 minutes against Stevenson this series. George has scored 42 points on 14-of-37 shooting in 106 minutes when Stevenson was on the bench.
Ian Mahinmi: Mahinmi made his Pacers playoff debut, checking in with 3:10 remaining and Indiana up by 33. He had a dunk and three rebounds during his garbage-time stint.
DeShawn Stevenson: Stevenson had six points, four rebounds and an assist in 25 minutes off the bench in the Hawks’ loss to the Pacers. He busted out the 3 monocle twice, knocking down both of his shot attempts. His most memorable plays, however, were a couple of hard fouls.
Ian Mahinmi: DNP-CD.
Some call it the Curse of Omar the Barber, whom O.J. Mayo publicly welcomed to shave those scraggly .500 beards when the Mavs got their first shot at the break-even mark late last month. Believe what you want, but there’s no denying that the Mavs are 0-3 when they’ve had a chance to get to .500, and their performances in those games have been uglier than their facial hair.
The 39-40 Mavs have another shot to shave Sunday evening, when they’ll face the New Orleans Hornets in that franchise’s final home game before officially becoming the Pelicans.
“We’ve been chasing .500 for a long, long time,” said Dirk Nowitzki, the bearded face of the franchise and one of six Mavs participating in the pact. “Every time we’re right there, we take a big L. We have another chance Sunday and it’s a big, big game for us.”
The Mavs were 11-11 the last time they were .500, way back in mid-December when Nowitzki had yet to play a minute this season while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. They dipped as low as 10 games under .500 on Jan. 9, when they were 13-23 after a miserable stretch of 13 losses in 15 games. The .500 beards pact began at some point in late January.
For most of the last two and a half months, those beards have been a warm, fuzzy story. That ended March 28, when the Indiana Pacers blew out the Mavs by 25 points at the American Airlines Center and boasted about keeping Omar’s clippers from buzzing.
The Mavs’ second shot at shaving didn’t go much better. They let the Los Angeles Lakers blow them out by 20 at the Staples Center on April 2, all but ensuring that Dallas’ dozen-year playoff streak would end, which it did when they were officially eliminated eight nights later.
The third strike might have been the biggest embarrassment for the Mavs. The Phoenix Suns snapped a 10-game losing streak with an 11-point win Wednesday at the AAC, causing Shawn Marion to question his team’s effort and Vince Carter to admit the Mavs took such a terrible opponent for granted.
Well, there’s no better place to break a curse than the Big Easy. (That’s a voodoo reference, not a dig at the 27-53 Hornets. With a different kind of curse, coach Rick Carlisle warned that only an “f------ idiot” would take a Mavs win for granted the morning before the stinker against the Suns. We’ll only make that mistake once this week.)
But the Mavs at least have recent history of breaking a possible curse here. They’d lost 11 in a row at New Orleans Arena, dating the Hornets’ quick dismissal of Dallas in the 2008 first round, before winning two of their last three in this building.
If the Mavs can win Sunday evening, they can get rid of their beards and remain focused on the post-elimination goal of finishing with a winning record.
Another loss, and Omar’s invitation will rank right behind the city of Dallas’ 2006 parade plans among the Mavs’ most regretful premature celebration plans.
The third time better be the charm for the Mavericks’ bearded bunch earning the right to shave by getting back to .500. After all, all the Mavs need to do is win at home against the West’s worst team.
Dallas has had tough draws the previous two times over the past couple of weeks that it has had a chance to get its record to the break-even point again and reach for the razors. The Mavs got blown out on both occasions.
The Indiana Pacers barked a bunch about all the talk about beards and the barber providing them bulletin-board material for their 25-point rout March 28 at the American Airlines Center. However, as Dirk Nowitzki noted, the Pacers won convincingly because they’re much better than the Mavs, not due to a healthy dose of motivational fodder. There’s a reason the Pacers are the East’s third seed.
The Los Angeles Lakers have more talent than the Mavs, but there’s no doubt Dallas laid an egg last week when it had a chance to reach .500 and really make the fight for the West’s final playoff seed interesting. That 20-point loss left the Mavs clinging to mathematical playoff hope, but really playing for pride.
They’ve played with enough pride to put themselves in position to hit .500 in the 78th game of the season.
And here come the Phoenix Suns.
On the butt end of a back-to-back.
After the Mavs will have had two days off.
NBA wins don’t come much easier than this. Call that disrespectful if you want, but the Suns have lost nine in a row and 13 of 14 entering their Tuesday night game in Houston. They have the West’s worst record by four full games.
Realistically, all that stands between the Mavs and shaving is showing up Wednesday night wanting to win.
Elton Brand called it “disheartening.” Dirk Nowitzki used a more simple term: “It sucks.”
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The Mavs have many flaws, but mental weakness isn’t among them. For better or worse, they’ve proven that they can get past an awful loss.
“I think we have plenty and plenty of tough losses this year,” Nowitzki said. “We should know how to recover from it and flush it and maybe watch some of this stuff [Friday]. … It’s the same way we flushed all the other 40 losses and come back ready to play Saturday.”
Just look at how the 35-37 Mavs responded to their last blowout loss, when they were humiliated in Houston on March 3. They beat the Rockets in a rematch a few days later, starting a four-game winning streak and a stretch of nine wins in 12 games.
In this case, the Mavs must bounce back against a different set of East bullies before heading on a road trip that begins with a potentially pivotal game against the Lakers.
For now, the Mavs’ focus is firmly on the Bulls, who they face at 1 p.m. Saturday. They’re well aware that Chicago is just as capable of kicking their butts on the boards as the Pacers were.
Indiana, the league’s top rebounding differential team, had a 55-34 edge on the glass Thursday night. The Mavs rank 28th in rebounding differential.
“It was a wipeout inside as far as the rebounding,” Carlisle said. “That’s been a challenge for us and we’ve got to get ready for it again on Saturday, because Chicago’s got the same kind of team.”
That requires a quick flushing and refreshed energy for a Mavs team fighting for a chance to sneak into the playoffs.
DALLAS – Remember how high folks around these parts were about Rodrigue Beaubois’ potential back in the summer of 2010?
That was right after his rookie season, when Rick Carlisle was heavily criticized for not giving the kid more minutes, especially after Beaubois went on a scoring flurry to give the Mavs a chance to steal Game 6 during the only significant playing time he received in Dallas’ one-and-done playoff run.
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One such offer occurred on draft night, as Nelson revealed after Cuban paid $3 million for the rights to select Dominique Jones with the 25th overall pick. A team dangled a lottery pick, Nelson said with a smile, but the Mavs weren’t interested due to their major plans for Beaubois.
Why is that relevant right now?
That team was the Indiana Pacers. They settled for selecting Paul George with the 10th overall pick.
Beaubois watched from the bench with his surgically repaired left hand in a cast while George dominated the Mavs on Thursday night. George lit up the Mavs for 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals to lead the Pacers to a lopsided win that bumped the Mavs to two games under .500.
“He’s right now approaching being a top-12 or -15 player in this league, which means he’s a top-12 or -15 player in the world,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s that good.”
The oft-injured Beaubois, on the other hand, is approaching an uncertain future as a free agent this summer. He certainly never sniffed the star status envisioned for him after his flashes-of-brilliance rookie season, ending up as a fringe rotation player.
The 22-year-old George is one of the league’s most versatile wings. He’s a phenomenally athletic 6-foot-8, 210-pounder who does a little bit of everything, averaging 17.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals this season, earning his first All-Star bid.
In other words, George is exactly the type of young talent the Mavs would love to pair with Dirk Nowitzki. Of course, that’s what they thought Beaubois would be back during his untouchable days.
Having said that, Cuban claims he has no regrets whatsoever about not selling high on Beaubois.
“That’s like saying, why didn’t I sell this stock or that stock in 2006?” Cuban said recently. “Why didn’t I short all the mortgages and banks in 2007? I might be rich. No, I don’t look back on things like that. Ever.”
It was hard not to while watching George go off Thursday night.
A few more notes from the blowout that will keep the Mavs’ beards growing:
1. Lost opportunity: This loss stung even a little more when the Mavs learned that the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Milwaukee Bucks
Had the Mavs won, they would have been even with the ninth-place Utah Jazz and only a half game behind the Lakers in the fight for the West’s final playoff seed. But the Mavs got blown out instead.
“Terrible time to have a dud,” Elton Brand said. “It’s disheartening. So many ups and downs in the season. It’s one of those games that [if] we win, you see the Lakers lose and feel great about yourselves. To have a dud on your home floor is definitely disheartening.”
Added Nowitzki: “Knowing the Lakers lost now, we had an opportunity to cut into their lead. And it sucks. It sucks.”
2. Off game for James: Mike James, the 37-year-old journeyman guard, has been an unlikely catalyst for the Mavs’ recent success. They were 9-3 with James in the starting lineup entering Thursday night.
Make that 9-4 after James’ worst performance as the Mavs’ starting point guard.
James was scoreless on 0-of-4 shooting and had as many fouls (four) as assists. The Mavs were outscored by 22 points in his 21 minutes, giving him the worst plus-minus of the night.
“Whatever happens, there’s no excuses,” James said. “I’m not going to make no excuses about my play. I didn’t play a good game tonight. I know my team needs my energy, so I’ll get myself ready tomorrow to play on Saturday.”
3. Playing in pain: O.J. Mayo shrugged off a question about his sore left shoulder Thursday morning, saying it was “just a little swollen” and would be OK.
It’s clearly somewhat of a concern, considering that he wore a harness to protect the shoulder against the Pacers. He injured it when he crashed into the courtside seats while chasing a loose ball late in Tuesday’s win over the Clippers.
“He’s wearing that thing, so it’s bothering him some,” Carlisle said. “He hasn’t missed a practice or a game all season, so he’s going to keep battling.”
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