This is a very good Dallas Mavericks team. They are definitely a better team than last year’s squad, that got blown out on their home floor by a 6-man Warriors squad of rookies and D-leaguers playing all-out Nellieball. They might even be a better team than the 67 game-winning, #1 seed in the NBA that Don Nelson blew out in the playoffs, playing all-out Nellieball. The reason is Tyson Chandler. He gets up and down, and does a lot to erase the defensive deficiencies of Nowitzki, and Terry, and Monsieur Beaubois, and Senor Barea, and the ancient Jason Kidd…
Guess what? Even with the helpful addition of Tyson Chandler, the Dallas Mavericks are not a very good defensive team. That’s not what they do. Not how they win. There are targets all over this Dallas team.
Nowitzki is an obvious target. But you wouldn’t know that from Keith Smart’s game plan, would you?
But the real target is their guards. Particularly their three guard lineup of Kidd, Terry and Beaubois (with Barea subbing) that the Mavs went with for most of last night’s game after their disastrous 1st quarter. The lineup that they opened the third quarter with.
Again, you wouldn’t know that from Keith Smart’s game plan. To Coach Smart, this looked like a game to be won with defense. This looked like a good spot for Acie Law.
The Mavs were a tired team last night. On a road back to back in the season’s dog days. And when the Warriors broke out to that 17 point lead, the Mavs were ripe for the plucking. Ripe for the all-out Nellieball assault that would have blown them out of the water. That was proven by Don Nelson to be their Achilles heel.
It never happened.
This Warriors team doesn’t know who they are. And how could they, when their head coach doesn’t know who they are?
And when their GM, Joe Lacob, is busy changing who they are, while sending the strong message that who they were wasn’t worth a damn.
The Nellieball Answer: If ever there was a game that called for Lee at center, this was it. Pull Tyson Chandler all the way out of the lane.
Guard Nowitzki with Wright and Vlad Rad. Being guarded by quicker players is the only thing that bothers Dirk. Stephen Jackson DESTROYED him. How could Keith Smart, who was sitting right at Don Nelson’s elbow when the We Believe Warriors held the Mavs 10 points below their scoring average, have forgotten this? Keith Smart fed David Lee 34 points he absolutely didn’t deserve to eat. Lee should NEVER be guarding Nowitzki.
So, Chandler pulled out of the lane guarding Lee. Nowitzki out at the three point line guarding Wright and Vlad Rad. Now how does that three guard lineup look, Rick Carlisle? Good luck keeping Monta and Curry out of the lane. Good luck defending the pick and roll.
Run the damn ball. The Warriors transition was pathetic in this game. Much of it was a function of having the wrong lineup on the court. But a lot of it is Keith Smart’s obsession with taking care of the ball. You could just see it whenever the Warriors rebounded. They squeezed the ball until every last Mav was out of sight, instead of looking upcourt and unleashing. And then walked the ball up the court. Pathetic.
Unleash Stephen Curry. There is no half-court defense for early threes at 45% conversion. None.
Do you want to play half-court basketball against Tyson Chandler on the offensive end, and Dirk Nowitzki on the defensive end? Is that your game plan for beating the Mavs?
Well then, Keith Smart and Joe Lacob are the guys for you.
Stephen Curry and the demise of Keith Smart: This is a very under-reported story, but the tension between Curry and Smart has exploded. Matt Steinmetz finally wrote something about it last night, but contined to downplay the friction angle.
There is friction, trust me. It has been all over Curry’s body language, all season long. And it exploded last night. Exploded. You will likely never hear a word about it, because that’s not how Curry rolls. But as I watched the four quarter of this game, I was struck deaf and dumb by what I saw unfold.
Once again, Stephen Curry was a minimal part of the Warriors’ offensive game plan. And once again, Curry was forced to endure 6 1/2 fourth quarter minutes on the pine while Keith Smart inexplicably rode Acie Law. When he was finally brought back in, he wasn’t ready to play. For whatever reason. Anger. Frustration. Disinterest. Being cold. Loss of confidence. Loss of Swag.
Loss of role.
Curry turned the ball over twice, trying to initiate Smart’s absurd motion schemes. And then when Terry burned him on the defensive end, Smart boiled over, yanking Curry for Acie Law. Down 6 in crunch time, heading into an offensive possession, he yanked Curry for Acie Law.
This is beyond teaching, folks. It’s something else. And it certainly wasn’t an offense/defense substitution, as Keith Smart tried to sell to the press in his post-game presser. Law was brought in on an offensive possession.
(I’ve kind of been waiting for this moment, this season. The moment when Keith Smart faced the consequences of his bubbly effusive nothing-goes-unanswered camaraderie with his buddies in the press.
The moment when he looked his buddies right in the eye, and lied.)
Curry, by the way, was “excused” from making post-game comments. I don’t think there is any denying now that this thing between Curry and Smart is personal.
Just as the thing between Smart and Reggie Williams is personal. Did you happen to catch Smart yell “I’m the fucking coach!” on the sidelines a few games back? It was directed at Reggie Williams. And we’ve all witnessed what’s happened to his minutes in the interim. (By the way, didn’t Marcus Thompson dedicate an entire story earlier this season to Keith Smart’s declaration that he doesn’t have a doghouse? What are the odds that Thompson revisits that story?)
After months of religiously trying to pound Don Nelson’s gloriously talented roster into Joe Lacob’s square hole, Keith Smart has wound up losing his team.
I wonder, Joe Lacob, is this what you had in mind when you told us that Don Nelson was “the wrong man to coach this team”?