Tyson Chandler’s defense was apparently not needed in New York, but appreciated in Dallas

Tyson Chandler changed the Mavericks with his defense. It was enough to lead them to a championship. When he arrived in New York, he created a different environment and ethic. His presence changed that team defensively and pushed them to the second seed in the East.
Last year was an unmitigated disaster then. Chandler was often the only player trying to play defense as the Knicks gave up 106.5 points per 100 possession. The Knicks were not a good team. And, for some reason, Chandler took the brunt of that criticism — not the mercurial J.R. Smith or the offensive-minded Carmelo Anthony or any of the other players that were part of that mess in the Big Apple.
One of Phil Jackson’s first moves was to ship Chandler off to Dallas for Jose Calderon (not known for his defense) and Samuel Dalembert. It was a salary-shedding move, but one that made some strategic sense. Chandler is not a triangle center.
Except Jackson gave Chandler the “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” Even thoug…

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New York Knicks vs. Dallas Mavericks 11/26/14: Video Highlights and Recap

The Dallas Mavericks looked to bring their recent skid to an end on Wednesday night when they took on the New York Knicks.

The Mavs had lost two straight games to cool their hot streak and faced a tricky test from the Knicks, who had dropped three of their last four.

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New York Knicks vs. Dallas Mavericks: Live Score, Highlights and Analysis

The Dallas Mavericks will look to avoid a three-game losing streak when they host the New York Knicks at the American Airlines Center Wednesday night.

The Mavericks may not have a very difficult task ahead of them, either. The Knicks will likely be without Carmelo Anthony, who is expected to miss the rest of New York’s road trip with back issues, per Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Dallas is also coming off what could be considered its worst loss of the season, a 111-100 Monday night defeat to the Indiana Pacers. This seems like an ideal time for the Mavericks to bounce back.

This contest will mark the first time Tyson Chandler faces off against the Knicks since New York traded him to Dallas over the summer.

The Mavericks and Knicks have played each other very evenly the past three seasons, with the two teams splitting the meetings each year.

Catch all of the action at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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Dallas Mavericks Need Everything They’re Getting From Super-sub Brandan Wright

Historically, the Sixth Man of the Year award has been reserved for guys who bring instant offense off the bench. Dallas MavericksBrandan Wright might not fit that description, but he has been every bit as impactful as any other bench player in the league.

Wright, 27, doesn’t get a lot of playing time, but he is one of the Mavs‘ most efficient players in his 19.3 minutes per game.

Dallas’ net rating is 3.5 points per 100 possessions better with the 6’10″ big man on the floor. He leads the league in field-goal percentage, connecting at an insane 80 percent clip early on in the season. As icing on the cake, Wright is also second only to New Orleans Pelicans‘ Anthony Davis in player efficiency rating.

His offensive load has also increased. Wright has scored in double digits in Dallas’ last eight games. His teammates trust him to score when they feed him the ball, and opponents have to scheme against his efficient movement on the court.

Wright has always been very efficient, but his numbers so far are truly special if he is able to sustain them. To head coach Rick Carlisle, it’s no mystery as to why his backup center is thriving.

“He’s a knowledgeable player that understands where openings are,” Carlisle said, according to ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon. “He does a good job anticipating and getting to them. We’ve got guys that understand where to get him the ball, where he is and things like that. That helps, too.” 

Wright himself appears to have a straightforward mindset on how to play the game.

“My job is simple. When I get the ball, I need to make a play with it,” he said.

While being a regular on highlight reels is nice, Wright’s influence on this year’s Mavericks team has gone way beyond that.


A Versatile Presence On Both Ends

Wright has done an excellent job emulating Tyson Chandler‘s presence. He is running pick-and-rolls just as effectively as the Mavs‘ starting center, and is throwing in a healthy dose of rim protection to spice it up.

It’s no secret how Wright has such a high field-goal percentage. He lives above the rim and gets the majority of his points through dunks. 

Wright usually finds his looks in two different ways—either by setting a screen and rolling to the basket, or by lurking on the weak side. Here are two examples of him being on the receiving end of J.J. Barea’s lobs:

He is great at timing cuts and his teammates usually have no trouble finding him.

“He understands how to read his defender, and it’s easy to get the ball to him. You can’t overthrow him. I have actually [tried]. It hasn’t happened yet,” Mavs guard Devin Harris said according to MacMahon.

Wright isn’t a post player, but he has a nice hook shot in his arsenal. Take a look at these two plays:

When defenders rotate in time and the dunk isn’t there, he generally puts the ball on the floor for a dribble or two. He is supremely athletic and has a very soft touch for a big man, which allows him to rise above the interior defender and finish over the top.

Wright always looks for the finish when he gets the ball anywhere in the vicinity of the rim. That decisiveness certainly contributes to his efficiency.

While he excels at a couple of things offensively, Wright is considerably more versatile on the defensive end. Here are a couple of clips of his defensive presence:

The first play is a great example of his pick-and-roll defense. Wright is presented with the challenge of stopping the driving guard, while not losing the roll man. He baits Houston Rockets‘ Francisco Garcia into the drive and swats the shot.

In the following play, Wright completely shuts down Donatas Motiejunas in the post. He holds his ground, stays down on the fakes, forces the travel and blocks the shot for good measure.

There are some bruisers around the league who can push Wright around a little more in the post, but he is strong enough to hold his own against most guys. Even if his matchup slips past him he still has the leaping ability to recover and contest the shot.

The Mavericks as a team tend to bring a lot of help, and Wright’s speed helps him time rotations. In the third clip, he stays with his man for long enough to make a dump-off impossible, but still does his job as a weak-side defender.

With his 7’4″ pterodactyl wingspan, Wright is able to close out on shooters and interrupt passing lanes. In the final play of the montage, he does just that. After hedging, he runs back to his man with outstretched arms and inadvertently forces a turnover.

That kind of length and speed also gives Dallas the freedom to occasionally switch Wright onto guards without compromising the defense.

His rim protection has been solid overall. Wright ranks eighth in the league in blocks per 36 minutes among players who have played 150 minutes or more this season.

Having Wright on the roster is a true luxury for Dallas. He has a very similar skill set to that of Chandler, which allows the team to maintain its identity even when the starting center is off the floor. 

Carlisle has also played both Chandler and Wright together for defensive purposes against bigger frontcourts. Even though neither of the two players have range, their combined mobility makes up for the lack of spacing. 

Wright increased his field-goal percentage to 67.7 percent last year. His incredible efficiency will inevitably take a dip at some point, but it’s certainly not impossible for him to shoot over 70 percent over the entire season.

The Mavs are getting all they could possibly ask for from Wright. They just have to hope he continues to deliver.


All stats are courtesy of Basketball-Reference or NBA.com, unless otherwise noted.

You can follow me on Twitter: @VytisLasaitis

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Breaking Down the New and Explosive Dallas’ Mavericks’ Offense

The Dallas Mavericks are far and away the best offensive team in the NBA as it stands right now.

Their 115.2 offensive rating (via NBA.com) leads the league, and their revamped lineup—which includes Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons and Jameer Nelson—has jelled very quickly. 

Part of this is due to the growing synergy between Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis, the team’s two primary options. Part is a deeper roster with multiple on-ball creators off the bench, namely Devin Harris and J.J. Brea. 

But ultimately it’s about head coach Rick Carlisle and his ability to weave together different skill sets in a clever and smooth offense. 

To chronicle Carlisle’s entire offense is an impossible task. He’s working with a never-ending catalogue of plays and on-the-fly creativity. Still, like any team, Dallas has a few pet plays outside of the run-of-the-mill spread pick-and-roll actions that have come to dominate most offenses. 

The key to all of this is one position, and it’s just a cog in the offense: center. This isn’t to say that Nowitzki, Parsons or Ellis aren’t important. Their value is clear, but it’s Chandler and Brandan Wright who are the glue guys opening things up on the perimeter.

Their rolls and dives to the rim are the engine. There’s shooting everywhere, with Nowitzki, Parsons and Nelson dotting the perimeter. Even Harris and Barea can drill shots from deep off the bench. 

None of those shots become available, however, unless Chandler and Wright suck the defense in by rumbling down into the paint off pick-and-roll or other screening action.

Even though both players are non-threats outside the restricted area, they’re so frighteningly effective around the basket that they cannot be ignored. Their athleticism adds another layer of difficulty as they’re able to gather in lobs from several feet away and finish them with power.

With most of Dallas’ guards able to penetrate and dish, there’s a constant barrage of rim pressure that defenses cannot completely handle.

According to Synergy Sports, Dallas isn’t even shooting the ball all that well. The Cowboys’ 1.058 points per possession on spot-up jumpers ranks 11th in the NBA, and they’re only shooting 35.2 percent as a team from the three-point line (16th in the league). 

Most of that is because teams expect the Mavericks to jack it from deep and subsequently attempt to shut down the three-point line. Dallas’ 26.9 attempts per game is second in the league, after all, so it’s not the worst strategy.

The problem is that Chandler and Wright are such dangerous finishers that the decreased attention means they’re feasting on easy baskets.

As a team, the Mavericks lead the league in points per possession around the rim—1.369, to be exact, and a scorching 66.1 field-goal percentage, according to Synergy Sports.

Chandler himself is shooting 74.6 percent, good for third in the league among all players with more than 50 attempts. Only two players are ahead of him, and one of those is Wright. His 87.5 percent (56 of 64) leads the league.

Here’s the effect of these devastating numbers in a common Mavericks action that often generates baskets. 

When Chandler flashes up to the free-throw-line, Parsons hits him before cutting off Chandler in what could be a dribble handoff.

Instead, Chandler flips it back to Parsons as Parsons moves toward the weak-side corner. 

As this develops, Nelson creeps in from the weak side and heads toward Parsons. Parsons then quickly drops it off to Nelson, who glides into an on-ball screen from Chandler. This quick volleyball-ing effect confuses the Houston Rockets‘ defenders as they don’t know who’s going to keep it and when the ball-screen is coming.

Notice how Tarik Black, who’s guarding Chandler, is sliding the wrong way when the screen occurs because he had been following Parsons’ movements. 

Once Chandler rolls to the rim, there’s no backside help because Trevor Ariza is glued to Parsons, and Kostas Papanikolaou cannot leave Dirk in the corner. They’re trying to lock up the three-point line.

The result, however, is an easy dunk.

Here’s a differently arranged play but with a similar misdirection theme. After Nelson Iverson cuts—heading in a straight line off two screens from one wing to the other—over both of Dallas’ bigs on the elbows, he catches a pass from Ellis.

Parsons steps in as if he’s going to set a pick but quickly slips away.

At the same instant Nelson swings the ball back to Ellis, who’s floating back toward the other side of the floor.

The subtle timing here is brilliant. Just as Nelson makes the catch, Chandler hits Nick Young of the Los Angeles Lakers with an angled step-up screen—an on-ball screen in which the big’s footwork is as perpendicular to the baseline as possible so he cracks the defender right in the back. 

Young gets caught up in the pick, meaning the Lakers are in a full-help rotation to account for the possible rim attack. Jeremy Lin tries to “tag” Chandler as he rolls—a defensive maneuver in the pick-and-roll in which a weak-side player rotates to cover a roller before scrambling back to a shooter—but he gets caught in way too deep.

Ellis reads this and throws it back to Nelson, who drills the open three-pointer.

This is the problem an effective roller causes. If Lin doesn’t tag, he’s giving up a guaranteed dunk. If he does, it’s a wide-open three-pointer. Most teams opt for protecting the paint and scrambling back to shooters, but Chandler makes the choice especially painful because he can’t be weakly tagged. 

He must be hit and slowed down; he’s going to catch an easy lob otherwise. That extra tick, however, is enough to give his teammates plenty of room to bury threes.

Even though the Mavericks aren’t shooting up to their potential, opponents know that they cannot simply abandon shooters. It’s the increased attention that’s driving the percentage down, and loosening up three-point line defense will lead to a skyrocketing shooting percentage.

This is why the pick-and-roll is the bread-and-butter option for most NBA offenses. Great coaches add a few wrinkles to make them even more lethal, and great teams have threats in every part of the play.

But it’s the bigs that create everything. 

Chandler and Wright are those players in Dallas.

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Indiana Pacers vs. Dallas Mavericks 11/24/14: Video Highlights and Recap

As the Indiana Pacers look to continue life without Paul George, they hoped to get a victory against the Dallas Mavericks.

The Mavericks continue to look like one of the top teams out West and stood as a massive test for a squad without its best player

Watch the video for full highlights.

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Tyson Chandler: The Dallas Mavericks’ Missing Piece

Old is new as Tyson Chandler helps Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks once again.

An old saying goes “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” In this case, it’s one team’s trash is another team’s treasure. After leaving the Dallas Mavericks following a NBA Championship upset over the Miami Heat in 2011, Tyson Chandler decided to sign for a max contract with the New York Knicks. Chandler developed a reputation as being one of the best defensive big men in the game and was credited as the final puzzle piece that an always talented Dallas team led by Dirk Nowitzki needed to finally get the golden trophy.
Offered a handsome contract to join a New York Knicks roster already star studded with Carmelo Anthony and a then thriving in New York Amare Stoudemire, Chandler was looking to provide the same service to the Knicks and be the final piece needed to become a championship contender. Things did not work out that way.
Carmelo Anthony was unable to fill the leadership sho…

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Dallas Mavericks: Rick Carlisle is a genious

Rick Carlisle
After 14 games, the Mavericks are in good shape in the competitive Western Conference, currently having the 5th best record in the conference (10-4). The last few games have also shown glimpses of Rick Carlisle’s regular rotation, and as expected, it involves everyone.
Carlisle seems to have a definite starting five, but he has distributed minutes throughout the roster and the players have answered. The only players averaging more than 30 minutes per game are Monta Ellis (32.1) and Chandler Parsons (31.6),not even star Dirk Nowitzki is even close to 30 averaging just 27.3 minutes per game.
So, what is Carlisle’s strategy? Has he not found a regular rotation he can count on? Is his bench just that good?
Rick Carlisle is known for distributing minutes. This was fully exposed in Dallas’s 2011 championship run, especially in the semi-finals against the L.A Lakers, where Dallas sweeped the series. In all of the four games in the series, Dallas’s bench outscored the Lakers bench by a wide marg

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J.J. Barea’s Return to Dallas Is Just What Mavericks Needed

Sometimes, good things come in small packages. That has certainly been the case with J.J. Barea, who has made a triumphant return to the Dallas Mavericks.

The 2013-14 season wasn’t pretty for the 6’0″ point guard. Barea, 30, saw his minutes dwindle down with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He shot 38.7 percent from the field and 31.6 percent from three-point range, both career-lows excluding his rookie season.

The Timberwolves had no interest in keeping an inefficient veteran guard, especially with an injection of youth ahead of the 2014-15 campaign.

Minnesota decided to waive Barea, which prompted the Mavericks to free Gal Mekel of his duties in order to make room for the Puerto Rican. The decision appeared questionable at first, but Barea has looked like the same player who helped the Mavs put away the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals.

While Mekel was a promising player, he likely would’ve been buried on the bench for most of the year. Barea, on the other hand, has stepped into a familiar role and trusts his coach to figure out how to utilize him.

“I’m excited to be back. The best five years of my life were here. Hopefully we can get this going again,” Barea said after signing with the Mavs, according to ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon. ”Whatever they need me to do, I’ll be ready.”

In the game against the Washington Wizards on Nov. 19, Dallas needed a lot. Barea came up huge and sparked a late scoring spurt, as the Mavs handed the Wizards their first home loss of the season.

With just over three minutes remaining in the game, Barea gave the Mavs a one-point lead, salvaging a broken play by calmly knocking down a jumper on the wing. The following four offensive possessions Dallas ran Barea and Dirk Nowitzki in high pick-and-rolls, a combination Washington couldn’t figure out in time.

Barea followed up on his heroic game in Washington by dropping 16 points and dishing out eight assists in 22 minutes of action against the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 21.

With Devin Harris on the sidelines with a minor leg injury, Barea took full advantage and proved his value. Even with Harris back, Barea has gotten a chance to close games. Carlisle clearly likes what he has seen so far.

“But really, since he walked in here, he’s fit back in very well. And he proved the other night (in Washington) that if we need to stretch him out, he’s capable of delivering for us,” Carlisle said, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News.

Barea might eventually be pushed further back in the rotation with Harris back in the fold. It’s still comforting for Carlisle to know he can rely on the Puerto Rican if his backcourt is hit with the injury bug.

Sometimes, Barea takes ill-advised shots or dribbles the ball far too long. But in a lot of ways, he is a terrific spark plug off the bench. Just like other guards on the Mavs‘ roster, he has found instant synergy with Tyson Chandler and Brandan Wright.

A decent chunk of Dallas’ offense comes through high pick-and-roll action, with guards penetrating and finding their big men with lobs after forcing weak-side rotations. Here are two examples:

The Lakers are obviously not an example of a great defense, but Barea is certainly capable of beating a lot of guys off the dribble. If his defender gets stuck on a screen, he possesses blistering speed that is very hard to deal with.

In the first clip, Barea‘s defender forces him to go left. The initial defensive rotation is there, but it’s almost impossible to react in time once you give the speedy veteran an open driving lane.

When Barea is on the floor, he dominates the ball a lot. Here are a couple of examples:

In the first clip, the Lakers do a good job stopping the initial pick-and-roll action. Barea holds on to the ball, runs another pick-and-roll and finishes the play off with a beautiful pass to a cutter.

Notice how he baits his defender further out. He does this a lot. It allows him to take a couple of dribbles and pick up his pace, before having his defender slam into a screen. Since he is tiny, Barea doesn’t need a lot of room to penetrate through the initial line of defense.

The second play is a simple drive-and-kick to Jae Crowder. Barea has done a great job of hitting corner shooters and swinging the ball to rolling big men so far. He understands Carlisle‘s offense and thrives with so many threats around him.

When Barea isn’t hitting shots, his ball-dominant approach can be somewhat frustrating, especially when you demote Monta Ellis to a spot-up shooter. He’s a guy you have to throw into games, see if he is feeling it and ride him if that is the case.

Defensively, Barea‘s size is an issue. He struggles getting around screens, isn’t great closing out on shooters and sometimes just drifts off mentally. He can also be an infuriating presence to deal with. Take a look at these two clips:

Barea is great at playing up close and physical against guards, pestering them on every dribble. A lot of players, especially bigger guys, like to abuse what they consider a mismatch and try to shove off. Barea bounces off players and sells that contact very well. He beats his matchup to the spot and forces turnovers in this unconventional way.

Considering the fact the Mavs got Barea at a discount, he is a great acquisition. Mekel was the sacrificial lamb, but he would not have seen enough minutes to develop as a player anyway. Instead, Carlisle now has another versatile ball-handler who knows and accepts the role he is given. 

The Mavs have always been great at picking up players when their market value is at a low, then turning them into effective pieces. Bringing back Barea is just another example of that.


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Dallas Mavericks vs. Houston Rockets: Live Score, Highlights and Analysis

The streaking Dallas Mavericks will look to win their seventh straight game when they travel to the Toyota Center to take on the Houston Rockets Saturday night.

The Rockets will once again be without Dwight Howard, who is battling a knee strain, per Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle. Of course, Terrence Jones (leg) also remains sidelined.

That does not mean there will be a lack of drama, though.

This contest will mark the first time Chandler Parsons has returned to Houston since being signed by the rival Mavericks over the summer.

Dallas has been scorching teams of late, averaging 118.7 points per game during its six-game winning streak. The Mavs are also averaging 111.3 points overall, best in the league.

Catch all of the action at 8 p.m. ET on NBATV.

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