How did the Mavs defend the 3? Can Boris Diaw play the 3? Are those 3 a.m. gripe sessions working in Phoenix? Examine the prime numbers around the TrueHoop Network.
Rob Mahoney of Two Man Game: "Somehow, a Dallas outfit that has been miserable in guarding the three point line turned a group of 'snipers' into kids with cap guns, firing blanks at every opportunity.
A lot of credit goes to both Carlisle and the players themselves, who combined a solid game plan with excellent execution. Looking to the box score, it may seem like the Mavs were absolutely grilled inside. This is entirely true. Dwight Howard awakened his inner Hakeem as he threw in hook after hook, and he finished the night with 35 and 11. But this time, Dwight's dominance was by design. Erick Dampier has shown himself to be a capable one-on-one post defender in the past, and tonight he was given the task of derailing Howard with no help from the weak side. That not only forces Dwight to (theoretically) force up errant shots, but also keeps the ball out of the hands of Orlando's shooters, who typically capitalize on Dwight's ability to draw double teams. Nuh-uh. Not last night. Wing defenders were all over the place, and their efforts were bolstered by a poor shooting effort by the Magic. Even when they had open looks, the Magic shooters were hearing Maverick footsteps. Or maybe they were just cold. Whatever."
Brett Hainline of Queen City Hoops: "Do the Bobcats really want to play [Boris Diaw] at small forward? They have not done it much so far, but with Gerald out, his time there is increasing rapidly...
In 60 minutes at the 3 over the last few games, Boris has struggled: He is averaging fewer than 10 points per 40 minutes at the position and not even grabbing 2 rebounds per the same time frame (the number is 1.96). Not a great rebounder to start with, moving him further away from the rim seems to have diminished his already light appetite for board work. Worse yet, his defense at the 3 is lacking, to say the least. Opponents are averaging 18.3 points/40 against Boris at the 3, on a 62% true shooting percentage. Those numbers at the 4: 14.8 and 54%. The impact on the team is telling: With Boris at the 3, Charlotte has an offensive efficiency of 99.9 and a defensive mark of 121.3. At the 4 (and again, since Gerald went out), 95.3 and 106.0. Still awful - but way better."
Michael Schwartz of Valley of the Suns: "Anybody who watched the Suns destroy the Kings 129-81 on Monday night would be hard-pressed to believe this was the same organization whose players were holding team meetings, whose executives were plotting the future of the team and whose fans were deciding whom is most to blame the last few days.
The question now is whether this was more of a tease than the Cardinals' late Super Bowl lead or actually a sign of a team that may still gel when it counts."
(Photos by Fernando Medina, Lisa Blumenfeld, Sam Forencich/NBAE via Getty Images)