Mavericks height neutralizing Lakers

May, 5, 2011
5/05/11
2:01
PM ET
By Dean Oliver & Pete Newmann
ESPN.com
The Los Angeles Lakers length was supposed to be a problem for opponents in the playoffs.

But people forget about the length of the Dallas Mavericks.

The Lakers (Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol) and Mavericks (Tyson Chandler and Dirk Nowitzki) were the only teams that regularly started two 7-footers during the regular season.

The Mavericks' size has caused problems for the Lakers, who typically had height advantages at the power forward and center positions of about an inch per player. In the Western Conference semifinals against the Mavericks, however, the Lakers' advantage has been reduced to about two-tenths of an inch. The Lakers played about 40 percent of their regular-season minutes with an overall average height advantage greater than half an inch. Against Dallas in this series, it’s been only 27 percent of the minutes with that advantage.

The Lakers' lineups that have had an average height smaller than the Mavericks have struggled, getting outscored 43-25 in the first two games.

When the Lakers have had a net height advantage of one player, they’re outscoring Dallas, 92-80. If the Lakers have no net height advantage, they’ve getting outscored 109-83. The Lakers cannot stop the Mavericks or score on them with no net height advantage.

• Over the course of the season, the Mavericks were the team with the lowest rate of attacking the paint off the dribble, about 10 fewer times per game than the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder, the leaders in attacking the paint off the dribble during the regular season.

The Mavericks scored 37.1 percent of their points in the paint in the regular season, the lowest percentage in the NBA. In the playoffs, that percentage has decreased to 35.5; however, the Mavericks have been making their perimeter shots in this series which has neutralized one of the Lakers’ advantages – their length and ability to defend in the paint.

With the Lakers spread out and not able to pack in the paint, it’s opened up passing lanes for Dallas. In this series, 14 of the Mavericks’ 17 layups or dunks in their halfcourt offense (82 percent) have been assisted. (The league average during the regular season is about 60 percent.) Also, all 15 of Dallas’ made 3-point shots in the halfcourt have been assisted.

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