Tag: Peja Stojakovic

Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks go

Dirk needs help if Dallas is going to get a ring


Going into this series Dallas’ bench was going to be a huge factor.

Well, they have been, just not in the way anybody was picturing.

While single game +/- stats (how a team scores with a player on the court) can be misleading, we have an unmistakable trend broken out by Jeff Fogel at HoopData.

Here’s the breakdown in plus-minuses so far from the Dallas perspective:
Game One: with Dirk -2, without Dirk -6
Game Two: with Dirk +13, without Dirk -11
Game Three: with Dirk +12, without Dirk -14

Because Nowitzki finishes every game unless he’s fouled out, we’ve developed a pattern where the Mavericks fall behind during his rest time…then spend the fourth quarter trying to climb back to equality. They successfully rallied to equality in Games Two and Three, with coin flip endings splitting out one apiece to each team.

If you’re scoring at home, that’s a +23 when he is on the court and a -31 when he sits.

That is -31 in 19:32. Dirk has been off the court less than 20 minutes total in three games.

Dallas’ bench ran into a couple of challenges this series. One is that Miami doesn’t really have a bench, so they don’t play them — in Game 3 one of the Heat “big three” was on the court for every minute of the game and at least two of them for 44 minutes of it. This isn’t a bench-on-bench situation, this is your bench playing against some of the game’s elite players.

Miami’s defense is also different. Dallas is a jump shooting team, they scored a lower percentage of their points in the paint than any team in the NBA. But the Heat are athletic at every position and on the perimeter they close out quickly on shooters. They rush you. They get in your head a little. And the result is Jason Terry shooting 38 percent for three games, J.J. Barea 21.8, Peja Stojakovic just 1-for-5.

Dallas has been close, the last two games have truly been coin flips. Their bench could put them over the top. But it better start soon. Time is running out.

Report: Mavericks will try to bring back Chandler, Barea

Tyson Chandler of the Dallas Mavericks c

There’s been a lot of talk that this run is Dirk Nowitzki’s last chance at a ring, because of his age and the makeup of the team. I’m not buying the age thing — I watched Game 2 of the finals. And the entire playoffs. The guy is averaging 28.1 points per game and shooing 50.5 percent despite being the primary focus of every defense. And he’s shooting 51 percent from three. Yes, he’s 32, but he has a few very good years left.

But the Mavericks team could see a real shakeup.

They have six free agents this summer — Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler, Peja Stojakovic, J.J. Barea, DeShawn Stevenson and Brian Cardinal. And according to ESPN Dallas, they only want about half of them back.

Indications from sources are the Mavericks want to at least bring back Chandler, Barea and injured forward Caron Butler. Brian Cardinal and Peja Stojakovic are the other two free agents.

The Mavs currently aren’t in position to lock up any of the free agents. The threat of a lockout and the new collective bargaining agreement will certainly change the financial parameters of future contract negotiations. Much has to be sorted out before next season’s roster is constructed.

The lockout and new CBA loom over everything. Chandler is going to get a lot of interest from a lot of teams, but Dallas has the inside track to get him. Butler isn’t likely to leave. Barea is the kind of guy who has had a good playoffs because Mavs coach Rick Carlisle has used him so well, putting him in situations that suit his skill set, but some GM could miss that and overpay to get him. We’ll see. Barea is a good backup point but he has limits, particularly defensively.

Basically, Dirk is not done but we have no idea what the Mavericks will look like next season.

Not just Nowitzki looking for redemption on Mavericks

Dallas Mavericks v Oklahoma City Thunder - Game Four

For a lot of fans, the image of Dirk Nowitzki kicking exercise equipment as he walked back to the locker room after Dwyane Wade, Shaquille O’Neal and the Miami Heat eliminated him and the Mavericks back in 2006 is easy to remember.

For many fans, these 2011 NBA finals are Nowtizki’s chance at redemption.

But the Mavericks are really a team of players looking for redemption.

This is Jason Kidd’s second chance — he went to the finals twice with the Nets, only to run into the Shaq/Kobe Lakers and lose. He is one of the best point guards ever, but he lacks a ring to complete it.

Jason Terry was there next to Nowitzki in 2006 falling short.

Shawn Marion was on a Suns team that was on its way to the finals, maybe more, until Robert Horry’s hip changed it all.

Peja Stojakovic was on a Kings team that that ran into Robert Horry too, with a 3-pointer with the Los Angeles Lakers (those same ones that caused Kidd so much trouble.)

Stojakovic also was on a Hornets team with Tyson Chandler (and Chris Paul) that was going to be the next big thing, until it wasn’t.

This is a veteran Mavericks team, and with that comes a lot of stories of woe. This is a chance for redemption for a lot of guys.

Nowitzki’s legacy should not depend on a ring. Nowitzki is the GEOAT — greatest European of all time. Name a better one? Make an argument for Pau Gasol. He has a couple of rings and is undoubtedly skilled, but he is not a franchise player like Nowtizki. Ask Memphis. What’s your other argument? Detlef Schrempf? Nobody has been as good as long from Europe as Nowitzki.

Kidd should be remembered as an all time great. Terry, Marion, Stojakovic and Chandler have all had great careers. A ring is not the sole measure of success.

But this could be sweet redemption for many Mavericks. Including Nowitzki.

NBA Playoffs: Mavs win with offensive potency despite the absences of Butler and Beaubois

Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks - Game Five
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As the Dallas Mavericks are doused with the effusive praise that comes with being a conference champion, let’s not forget that their incredible accomplishments have come despite their two X-factors watching in suits from the sideline.

It’s odd to discuss a team headed to the NBA finals in terms of substantial setbacks, but there’s simply no other way to address the season-ending injury to Caron Butler and the gradual irrelevance of Rodrigue Beaubois. Both were supposed to be significant players for Dallas this season, and it’s a testament to the team’s depth and the efficacy of those available that the Mavs stand atop the Western Conference.

Butler is by far the more significant loss, as the Mavs knew exactly what he could offer this particular team during this particular season. Dallas’ early success on both ends of the court was because of Butler’s adjustments to better accommodate the team; gone was the ball-stopper of a year ago, and in his place stood an effective perimeter defender willing to move within the offense and play within himself.

The Mavericks were a tremendously successful and dynamic team with Butler in the fold; imagine them as they are now, but with an effective, involved version of DeShawn Stevenson. Butler connected on 43.1 percent of his 3-point attempts and 45 percent of his attempts overall — notably improved marks from his initial half-season of adjustment in Dallas following the 2010 trade deadline. He seemingly found his place within the offense and the team as a whole, and though Butler posted a PER of just 14.2 (relatively average, but low by the standards of his career), his value in terms of defense and shot creation far exceed that number.

As for Beaubois, this season’s Mavs lost out on an unquantifiable potential impact. He was the team’s second-best per-minute scorer a season ago, and an efficient bucket-getting machine. This year was supposed to be an extension of that same theme, a development and growth of Beaubois as a player and a point guard. Yet as much as Beaubois’ future was discussed in terms of what could be (both from a skill and positional standpoint), all of that rhetoric was a thinly veiled assessment of what would be.

Beaubois was deemed untouchable by Mark Cuban because he was seen as a sure thing, and public assessments of his game were equally optimistic. At worst, Beaubois would be a tremendous scorer capable of driving and shooting his way to 20-point nights on the regular. His length and athleticism give him great defensive potential, and his relative inexperience with the game left plenty of growing room for Beaubois’ budding passing and ball-handling abilities.

Beaubois may still hold those same natural predispositions for NBA effectiveness, but this season — one in which he was held out of 54 games because of complications surrounding an offseason foot injury — has understandably tarnished his perceived potential. Something for Beaubois never really clicked this season; his scoring instincts misled him, and he oscillated between periods of extreme passivity and offensive overextension. The scoring that had been at the core of Beaubois’ game deserted him, and while he still scored 17.1 points per 36 minutes, Beaubois’ efficiency plummeted. At moments, he looked like a dime-a-dozen undersized two guard, capable of scoring in bursts but largely inefficient.

Yet despite the losses of the actual and the potential, the Mavs persevered. Shawn Marion stepped into more minutes and an expanded offensive role, the kind which had been denied him by Dallas’ almost superfluous depth. Peja Stojakovic recovered from the mysterious back injuries that had kept him off the court in Toronto, and became a semi-regular contributor. Yet even more importantly, Jason Terry and J.J. Barea rebounded from their slow starts. Barea didn’t top 40 percent shooting during a month of the regular season until January, and his 3-point shooting hit almost comical lows in the mid-teens. ‘JET’ improved his field-goal shooting by 6 percent between January and February, and hasn’t looked back.

Neither player was limited by the system or even the clutter on the depth chart, but simply had failed to tap into the specific strengths of their games during the season’s opening months. Throw in a fully transcendent performance from Dirk Nowitzki, and you have the current, actualized product.

They didn’t need a big trade for a quasi-star wing or any kind of revamp — just consistency. Just an established effort to work through the season with the players available, with the knowledge that guys like Terry and Barea were better than their performance indicated. Rick Carlisle, Donnie Nelson, and Mark Cuban knew that Marion was still a capable offensive player. They knew that Stojakovic could contribute in spots, and while he couldn’t replace Butler, he could at least hedge the loss of his perimeter shooting. And perhaps most importantly, they knew Nowitzki could still act as a sufficient centerpiece without additional help, and Jason Kidd could be trusted to pull everything together on both ends.

This run to the NBA finals required the perfect mix of ingredients and circumstance, but so do all runs to the finals. It’s only because of the persistence of this roster, coaching staff and front office that this group was able to grow, thrive, and take the Western Conference by storm.

Video: Kevin Durant’s monster, win-sparking slam

Oklahoma City Thunder v Dallas Mavericks - Game Two

The best line I read about this dunk (and I couldn’t find the tweet later to credit the person) was that Kevin Durant used Brendan Haywood as his own personal Kia.

The Thunder were struggling and this dunk sparked them and was the first step to them evening this series. One dunk does not a win make, but this was a turning point fo Oklahoma City.

Be sure to notice just how bad a job Peja Stojakovic does on defense to start this play. And then marvel at the best dunk of the playoffs.