What the Dallas Mavericks are doing right

6 Comments

It’s not all Lakers mistakes.

Yes, the Lakers are making mistakes. But the narrative of this series has focused on those errors, and that has stolen a deserved spotlight from the Dallas Mavericks — they are winning this series because they are doing things well. Dallas is making plays, forcing tough decisions, then executing when the Lakers give them even a sliver of room.

Dallas is doing so many things right, and they deserve credit for it.

That starts with their defense in the paint — the Lakers simply overwhelm most teams with size. But with three 7-footers of their own — Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood — they can match the Lakers’ size. The Lakers shot only 50 percent inside 10 feet in Game 2, having their shots altered. Also, Dallas has held its own on the glass against the Lakers.

That size, combined with Kobe Bryant’s gimpy ankle, have made the Lakers’ most feared weapon a jump shooter — Kobe has one shot at the rim in two games.

On offense, the Mavericks’ ball movement has been spectacular. The knock on the Mavericks is that they are a jump-shooting team, but against the Lakers those shots have been good looks that have come off well-designed plays. This is not isolation sets that end in contested jumpers; it is good looks.

At the top of that pyramid is Nowitzki, one of the most unstoppable players the NBA has seen on offense. He is a 7-footer who hits rainbow fadeaways from a variety of spots on the floor. The Lakers have tried Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and briefly Ron Artest but none has been able to slow Nowitzki, who is playing some of the best ball of his career.

But Dallas is more than that. It is J.J. Barea and Nowitzki noticing how the Lakers were defending the pick-and-roll (hesitantly), pulling it out 30 feet from the rim, then letting the speedy Barea attack the paint at the end of Game 2 (always to the side of the floor where shooters made it dangerous for help to drop down). Force Bynum to either protect the paint and leave his man open or give up layups to Barea.

The narrative of this series is that the Lakers have blown those defensive assignments. But a more accurate one is that Dallas has found a weakness and exploited it — exactly how the Lakers won their two rings.

The Lakers will make adjustments. This is a talented and prideful team that will make plays, that will not surrender.

But make no mistake about the first two games — Dallas won those. Take nothing away from the Mavericks. They have been the better team, by both design and execution. And don’t for a second underestimate their talent.

Report: Pacers offered Paul George for Kyrie Irving

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Cavaliers think they were close to trading for Paul George, a text message away from completing a three-team trade with the Pacers and Nuggets that would have sent Kevin Love to Denver.

But Cleveland could’ve ensured itself George, whom Indiana ultimately dealt to the Thunder. All the Cavs had to do was send Kyrie Irving to the Pacers.

Brian Windhorst and Zach Lowe of ESPN on The Lowe Post podcast:

  • Windhorst: “I know that around the draft and in the Paul George talks, the Cavs were not willing to make Kyrie Irving available for Paul George.”
  • Lowe: “We can say on this podcast: The Pacers offered Paul George for Kyrie Irving. That’s a thing that happened, according to people that we’ve talked to.”
  • Windhorst: “Multiple times.”

Even if the Cavaliers knew of Irving’s unhappiness – maybe they did, or at least should have – while George was still in Indiana, this would have been a bad trade for them.

Irving is locked up for two more years, and George is on an expiring contract. That simply makes Irving more valuable than George, who – like LeBron James – could have walked in a year. George is ineligible for a reasonable contract extension, and there’s so much buzz about him joining the Lakers.

Now, if the Cavs were more on top of Irving’s trade request when George were still available, maybe they would have more aggressively tried to bridge the gap. Perhaps, Indiana could have sent another player or draft pick.

But Cleveland shouldn’t be kicking itself over not dealing Irving for George straight up.

Report: LeBron James eager for Kyrie Irving to be traded

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
5 Comments

LeBron James reportedly wants to fight Kyrie Irving over the guard’s trade request.

But sometimes, people continue to work with those whom they dislike. LeBron partnered with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert again and again, after all.

Might LeBron realize keeping Irving is Cleveland’s best chance to win another title? Could LeBron put personal feelings aside in that pursuit?

Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

Irving has asked for a trade and James is eager to see him off.

This might explain why the Cavs appear so gung-ho about moving Irving. LeBron usually gets what he wants in Cleveland, especially in a contract year.

It’s not too late for LeBron and Irving to reconcile until a trade is completed, but with LeBron welcoming Derrick Rose, they just move further from that possibility.

Damian Lillard says players who want to leave team owe teammates, fans truth

Getty Images
1 Comment

Damian Lillard was making the rounds on a media tour Monday, and at virtually each and every stop he was asked about Kyrie Irving and Carmelo Anthony. We told you about Lillard’s recruiting pitch to Anthony.

One of his stops was with one of my favorite radio shows,  Bill Reiter’s Reiter Than You on CBS Radio. Lillard talked about what players owe teammates when they try to push their way out of town.

“You owe your teammates first because those are the guys that you spend the most time around that you have relationships with, more so than anybody else,” Lillard said. “And also the fans because they are part of your team. They’re the people that come and cheer for you and support you as much as anybody. So I think they’re the two groups of people that you owe the truth. They deserve to know the truth in where you stand and what your plans are.”

Hard to argue with that.

Of course, honesty can lead to some bad blood. If Kyrie Irving went to his teammates and the fans in Cleveland and said, “Look, LeBron James is leaving in a year, and I don’t want to be the guy holding the bag, so I’m forcing my way out while I can” how would that go over? It’s the truth — or maybe the largest part of the truth, there is never just one thing — but it would rub a lot of people the wrong way. And Irving would get roasted in the media (more than he is already).

It sounds good to be honest, and a lot of guys try, but they have talked themselves into that narrative before they sell it everywhere else. Everything is spin, to a degree.

Watch Stephen Curry make fun of Klay Thompson’s 360 dunk fail in China

Leave a comment

By now we have all seen Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson brick that dunk attempt in China, right?

Here is the link to the video if you haven’t seen it.

Well, teammate Stephen Curry was also in China this week and decided to do a little mocking of Thompson’s missed dunk for the crowd.

It was all in good fun, and of course we all know about the Warriors team culture. Glad that Curry and Thompson can jab at each other like this.