Opening Statements: Wizards vs Mavericks, Game 10 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Mavericks, Game 10

Updated: November 19, 2014

Washington Wizards at Dallas Mavericks - Nov. 14, 2012


The mighty Mavericks roll into D.C. tonight to take on the Wizards. Well, as mighty as a team can be in an early-season NBA that’s still wide, wide open. Even the aging Spurs should not be presumed to be late-season dominant by default.

But Dallas does ride a four-game winning streak, an 8-3 record, and a Monday evening 107-80 drubbing of Washington’s nemesis, the Hornets, which took place in Charlotte. (OK, so nemesis might be a stretch, but as long as Michael Jordan is around…)

As some have pointed out, including CSN’s Ben Standig piggy-backing Grantland’s Zach Lowe, Dallas’ offense is as close to juggernaut as any other so far (and perhaps historically so). It started with Lowe accusing the Mavs of murder on Twitter.

Gap b/w Dallas’ No. 1-ranked offense and CLE at No. 2 = gap b/w No. 2 and No. 15. So, yeah. Mavs straight murdering defenses. —@ZachLowe_NBA

Indeed, Dallas is averaging 115.5 points per 100 possessions (OffRtg), and Cleveland is in second but 5.8 points worse at 109.7. And a 5.8-point difference from the Cavs brings us to the Knicks with a 17th-ranked offense at 103.9. The Wizards are ranked two spots lower at 102.7.

Standig followed up with a history lesson from (BBR). At this point it’s worth pointing out the discrepancy between’s OffRtg numbers (used above), and those from BBR, which has the Mavs at 117.3 points per 100 possessions instead of 115.5. A “possession,” you see, has still not been perfectly defined by the statistical world. (It really comes down to a crossroad between opinion in structure in a game with so many variables.)

The gist is that according to BBR, only 17 NBA teams in the 3-point era (from 1979-80 to now) have posted an OffRtg above 114, and such has only happened three times since Michael Jordan’s Bulls won the title in 1996-97 with a regular season OffRtg of 114.4. (Chicago also won the title in 1997-98 with an OffRtg of 107.7.)

Since 17 seasons ago, you have two Steve Nash Phoenix Suns teams (114.5 OffRtg in 2004-05, coached by Mike D’Antoni; and 115.3 in 2009-10, coached by Alvin Gentry), and this year’s Mavericks (so far). The work will be cut out for Washington tonight, and Rick Carlisle, Dirk Nowitzki, and Monta Ellis have the shears.

Of course, I could argue that Dallas’ only quality win has come against the New Orleans Pelicans with wins over Sacramento and Charlotte closely trailing. The Mavs’ three losses have come against teams seemingly destined for the playoffs—San Antonio, Portland, and Miami (only the Heat game was at home in Dallas). Still, a better résumé than the Wizards. Plus, per BBR, Dallas has the second-toughest strength of schedule in the NBA so far while Washington’s SOS is ranked 16th.

This is the first big test for Randy Wittman’s Wizards at home, and the coach better hope for low turnovers and exacting execution on offense. As good as the Wizards aim to be on defense (currently one of six teams holding opponents below 100 points per 100 possessions), if they can’t keep up on the scoreboard, the magnifying glass on the coach’s offense might start killing ants … and then bigger animals.

Joining me today is Kirk Henderson (@kirkseriousface), inhabitant of Washington, D.C., chronicler of the Dallas Mavericks for the Internet (at  and, and giver of one serious face. Leggo? Let us go…

Teams: Wizards vs Mavericks
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
Television: CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WTEM-FM 99.1
Spread: Mavs favored by 2.5 points.

Q #1: A defensive center (with a ring) is more important than point guard adhesive who can spread the floor, at least with Dallas’ previously assembled parts and at least when it comes to a lost love in Tyson Chandler.

So with the summertime departure (via trade) of Jose Calderon to New York, what’s to make of Dallas’s point guard sitch? There’s newcomer Jameer Nelson, Devin Harris (who is dealing with ankle issues), the recently returned J.J. Barea, and even Raymond Felton one day, maybe. How important is it that this position be solidified as the season progresses and which way does it go?

@kirkseriousfaceVery important. At the moment, Dallas has been lucky in terms of scheduling, playing lots of weaker opponents in the West and East. Unfortunately, I think Rick Carlisle may have to try the “hot hand” approach similar to how some coaches use NFL running backs. Jameer Nelson is a very good shooter but is a sieve defensively and thinks he is a better shooter off-the-dribble than he is. Devin Harris is good with the backup crew but seems to have the same stat line whether he plays for 24 minutes or 32. Jose Barea is best used against second units with Tyson Chandler setting screens. Jameer may be the best option if he can understand his role, because he’s still a very good passer. Raymond Felton, until he proves otherwise, is a non-factor.

Q #2: Speaking of Chandler, Tyson… Has his return been everything that you expected?

(And how much of that is due to the fact that the Mavs no longer must roll Sam Dalembert out on the floor?) Also, what’s the deal with Brandan Wright and his league-leading .774 field goal percentage? (And is part of such due to changes in personnel?)

@kirkseriousface: He’s been more, if that’s possible. We all know, intellectually at least, how well Tyson and Dirk fit together. He helps mitigate Dirk’s lack of mobility defensively. Offensively, I’d forgotten how functional he is. He’s a top 5 rim-runner for centers and gets Dallas so many extra possessions with his back-tapping of rebounds. Add in his screens and his understanding of his role and Tyson Chandler is so incredibly valuable. As far as Brandan Wright goes, he’s been pretty ridiculous from the field for the last few years. It really helps that he’s asked to do the things he’s good at. Anywhere within 5-to-6 feet and a clean look, and it’s safe to say the ball is going down a bit. He’s obviously aided by the fact that when he’s on the floor he’s surrounded by floor spacers so most of his looks are very clean.

Q #3: Convince me that whatever it is Rick Carlisle has done to morph and mold Monta Ellis over the past two seasons is not his greatest act ever (aside from winning a championship).

@kirkseriousfaceHonestly, he’s not done that much for Monta Ellis other than put him into a position to succeed. Monta’s numbers, other than field goal percentage aren’t THAT off from his other stops. He’s still a volume guy. Something about being paired with one of the best scorers in league history helps, because the defense constantly has to pick a poison when playing the pick-and-roll between Monta and Dirk Nowitzki. Unlike someone like say, Brian Shaw, Rick Carlisle’s greatest strength is using the tools at his disposal. He’s not asking Monta to be a floor general who occasionally spots up. He’s asking him to attack and take what the defense gives him. Maybe Rick’s tinkered with his shot some, but there’s a lot to be said for a coach who can design a system to maximize a player’s strengths.

Q #4: It’s funny how some teams lose out on free agency…

…like Dallas with Deron Williams in 2012, Dwight Howard in 2013, and Carmelo Anthony in 2014, but can still remain flexible enough to be good with their one remaining superstar (although missing the 2013 playoffs had to be painful for Mavs and Dirk fans), versus, say, today’s Los Angeles Lakers. The question is, would you trade the one title for two Mavs NBA titles if you now had the opportunity to watch Dirk shoot all the shots he wants on a terrible team with no end or rebuilding beginning in sight?

@kirkseriousfaceProbably. As much as I like watching Dirk age gracefully, that 2011 title doesn’t get a ton of respect because of the lockout which followed and the ongoing need to have the narrative be about Lebron James. I made an argument last year for letting Dirk do what Kobe is doing now. It’s absurd, of course, but if Dirk shot 25 times a night he’d be a top 4 scorer by his career’s end. But then he wouldn’t be the Dirk we’ll remember one day. He’s low key brilliant and, in my opinion, has influenced how the game is played way more than his better contemporaries. Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant are once in a generation players, but Dirk and his floor stretching is a talent which can and has been duplicated. He won’t be remembered for this, but I think it’s one of the cooler things about his legacy.

Q #5: Is Chandler Parsons finally starting to emerge from a slow-ish start to the season?

To continue working toward fitting in with that new hefty contract in tow, he needs to do what?

@kirkseriousface: Sort of? I’ve been impressed in spurts but he’s still figuring out how to fit in. Dallas hasn’t really needed him to take over yet and the few times the games have been close he’s really been godawful. At this point, I don’t think he can live up to his contract. I feel safe saying that after 10 games. BUT he and Dirk are making a combined $25 million over the next three years. That’s a bargain. If he is to start living up to his contract he’s going to have to have more 16-4-4 games. He’ll also have to improve defensively.

Prediction: This is going to be a good test for both teams.

Dallas’ only win against a “playoff” team is over the Pelicans, similar to Washington’s “impressive” wins against “playoff” teams in Milwaukee and Orlando. The Mavs’ losses have come against quality opponents in San Antonio, Portland, and Miami, as have the Wizards’ losses to the Raptors and Heat. How does the score of this game go?

@kirkseriousface: Prediction: Dallas has won its last several games by double-digits mainly because the offense is cooking. If they get out to a decent lead chances are they can hold out against any Washington offensive. However, if the shooting isn’t there early this could be a classic dog fight. I suspect this may happen and predict a close Maverick win, 93-91.


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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.