Statement Game: Mavs vs. Spurs

The Mavs have battled back from the 2-7 depths of earlier in the season and sit at a respectable 11-8 going into tonight’s game against the San Antonio Spurs. As Tim MacMahon points out, beating the Spurs would be a good way to legitimatize that relative return to normalcy. Since I haven’t written much about the Mavs thus far, this gives me a chance to make some sports points. My conversation-starting five is after the jump.

1. The team’s new three-guard look (Jet Terry, Jason Kidd, and J.J. Barea) might not fare as well in the playoffs, where teams can more easily gameplan, but it looks like it could easily pay off big-time in the regular-season. Reason it works so well: more shooters on the floor, more passers, Kidd is big enough to handle any shooting guard and most small forwards, and it’s difficult for any team to deal with four guys attacking hard on every possession. (It sputtered at the close of the Lakers game, sure, but not every team has Kobe Bryant.) Perfect example of a good offense is the best defense.

2. Speaking of J.J., the departure of Avery Johnson has helped him more than anyone. He’s the kind of player who is going to make mistakes, because he takes chances. But he needs a bit of a leash to succeed, and that didn’t jibe with the Lil’ General’s M.O. Avery mishandled him so badly that he almost seemed to be openly screwing with his head. (Example: sticking J.J. into a tight playoff game in the spring after playing him so rarely for the last quarter of the season and the first four playoff games, I honestly didn’t realize he was still in uniform.)

3. Dirk’s playing as well, if not better, than he did in his MVP season. Unfortunately, he’ll probably never crack the Top 5 again. But he will keep racking up Western Conference Player of the Week honors. (He already has two this season.)

4. The Mavs’ resurgence has coincided with Josh Howard’s injured ankle. I don’t think it’s completely coincidental. One of the team’s strengths in this 9-1 run has been ball movement. Josh, for whatever reason, is a black hole on offense. He’s a one-on-one player on a passing team. That means he may be superfluous. My idea: dangle him to the Charlotte Bobcats. Why? He’s a Carolina boy, for one, and also: Michael Jordan runs that team. Which means the Mavs could get back Gerald Wallace (who’s a beast on D, and doesn’t need the ball on offense) and maybe even a draft pick. What’s that? Right. You’re welcome.

5. Mark Cuban may be worried about ditching Jerry Stackhouse, since Stack could maybe end up on another contending team and come back to bite the Mavs on the rump. He shouldn’t be. Stack is d-u-n done. Sure, there’s an occasional 17-point game still left in him somewhere. But there’s also this: a guy who can’t accept his better years (or even his average ones) are in the rearview mirror, who still demands the ball, who still doesn’t know a good shot from a bad one, who still takes it as a personal challenge anytime a defender pokes the ball away from him momentarily.

(Seriously, if you went back and looked at every possession a defender accomplished this — and there are TONS — the times Stack shoots after recovering the ball is probably somewhere around 98 percent. And I would bet his shooting percentage in these instances is somewhere around 13.5. I talked to a guy who roomed with him and Rasheed Wallace in college. This goes all the way back to UNC.)

Anyway, cut the cord. Accept any trade. Buy him out. Whatever. He only hurts the team at this point.


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11 responses to “Statement Game: Mavs vs. Spurs”

  1. JS says:

    1. Kidd still is bad, although he has improved from last year’s awful. At the end of close games, you already can see what teams will if the Mavs are lucky enough to make the playoffs — back off Kidd and make him shoot bricks.
    2. JJ has had a good week or so. Beware of normal JJ reappearing momentarily.
    3. Dirk is playing well again. Would like to see a little better shot selection and not so much reliance on that off-balance fadeaway jumper that makes him look like a newboard foal attempting to stand for the first time. Also have noticed an uptick in the whining to the refs department, but not as bad as he used to be (and nowhere close to Tim “Not Me” Duncan, who has been the inspiration for so many Family Circus strips).
    4. Rumor has it that mary jane prices have been up in the Dallas area due to increased demand while Josh has been riding the pine. Let’s trade him now, before the NBA gets the results of his urinalysis tests back.
    5. Stack’s new movie — Weekend at Jerry’s. He not only is done, I am not sure he is even alive.

  2. Eric Celeste says:

    Zac (post) and Jim Schutze (comment) make good points.

  3. al says:

    anyone who thinks Kidd has been ‘bad’ this year should buy a ticket. Or at least a TV set. Or maybe a clue?

  4. Ricky says:

    Yes and no on the statement game. Mavs already beat the Spurs this year, granted they had no Manu. Also the Spurs have struggled this year and the Mavs match up with them well. Mavs have a lot of bodies to throw at Duncan (Damp, Diop, Bass). Spurs are thin in at the swingman position, much like the Mavs. So we can hide Terry/Barrea defensively since the Spurs are throwing out Finley/Mason/Bowen at that spot. They are out of the elite. The statement I want to see is beating someone in the Utah/New Orleans/Lakers group.

  5. JS says:

    Al, I have season tickets. I watched Kidd last year, during the Olympics, and so far this season. He is bad. He has rare moments, but overall he is most definitely not good.

  6. I know they lost ... says:

    but I think JKidd must read this blog.

  7. JS says:

    Kidd did have a good game last night, although I would swear he had more than 3 turnovers. I did say that he has his moments, and last night was one of them. And JJ is making me a believer with every game.

  8. I know they lost ... says:

    a believer, maybe … but down by 2 with under 2 to play in the second OT, and early in the shot clock, I don’t want him shooting w/out Dirk or JET even touching it once on that possession.

  9. JS says:

    Yeah, JJ did get a little ahead of himself. But given some of Jet’s passes last night and his boneheaded flagrant foul, I am not sure that he was a better option at that point. What I really want to know is what Carlisle sees in George that I don’t — because he hasn’t been playing great D and he is close to Diop when it comes to usefulness on the offensive end. Cuban has a lot of money tied up in centers that tend to underperform!

  10. Zac Crain says:

    Eric has told me I need to focus my hate. Over the holiday break, I plan to accomplish this by throwing everything I despise in a March Madness-style bracket, and coming out with 4-8 things I can laser in on.

    I can say, without equivocation, that Devean George is likely to make the cut.

    Also: J.J.’s shot was probably a little too early in the shot clock for my taste, but it was a good look, and that’s pretty much all you can ask for. He didn’t jack up a three or take on four defenders. He had an open shot from around the free throw line. And don’t forget — he was on fire in the latter stages of the game.

  11. Ricky says:

    Devean doesn’t need to play anymore over the alternatives, but he’s still on my good side for almost blocking the Kidd trade.