Mavs Start Rajon Rondo Era Right and Other Saturday NBA Takeaways

As far as basketball gambles go, it doesn’t get much bigger than the Dallas Mavericks’ recent trade for Rajon Rondo. Break right, the move becomes one of the more brilliant in-season deals in modern NBA history.

Fizzle out to the sound of Rondo’s departure next summer? Cue the caustic quotes about so much sound and fury. 

Dallas’ 99-93 win over the San Antonio Spurs Saturday night, the official first of the Rondo era, wasn’t impressive. This was the Spurs’ B-Team, after all—the fumes from San Antonio’s triple-overtime loss to the Portland Trail Blazers the night before pluming large indeed. And it wasn’t particularly pretty.

But for a team that needs to build its chemistry on the fly, any win, no matter how full of flaws, is one worth applauding.

Indeed, head coach Rick Carlisle understands as well as anyone the delicate balance between taking what you can on the one hand, and the importance of perspective on the other, per his comments (via Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com):

In the hierarchy of high-profile debuts, Rondo’s was far from phenomenal: six points (on 3-of-11 shooting), nine assists and seven rebounds over 34 largely deferential minutes.

Still, it was impossible not to be impressed by the preternatural sense of comfort exuded by the longtime Boston Celtic—the unmistakable movements of a man for whom playing second fiddle is anything but a burden. Per Bryan Gutierrez of MavsOutsider.com, Carlisle said Rondo “played well”:

There were the occasional Rondo staples, of course. A deft transition dish here, a clutch baseline steal there, controlled flash and fierce calm—the two sides of one of the league’s more curious coins.

If Rondo is to be the gold-studded straw that stirs the drink, Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis are the top-shelf libations. But on a night when their longtime go-to scorer struggled to find his groove, the Mavs once again took solace in Ellis’ down-the-stretch explosiveness. Carlisle and Rondo shared their thoughts on Ellis’ on-court performance (via Gutierrez):

His final line: 38 points on a crisp 15-of-23 shooting, including a scintillating 5-of-6 from distance. The output ties a season high for Ellis, who has quietly emerged as Dallas’ most consistent fourth-quarter scoring option.

In fact, according to NBA.com, Ellis leads the NBA in points scored during “clutch” situations—the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime when the game is within five points or fewer.

It’s impossible to imagine a Dallas team where Nowitzki isn’t a—if not the—go-to option down the stretch. At the same time, when your best player is 36 years old with nearly 50,000 minutes (including the playoffs) on his treads, having secondary or tertiary options isn’t merely a nice convenience; it’s a necessity.

With Ellis, Rondo and five-tool stud Chandler Parsons in the fold, that scenario has become the tried-and-true blueprint for these Mavericks, evidence of a successful team-building effort, per Gutierrez:

As far as fostering continuity is concerned, Mark Cuban couldn’t have picked a better time to pull the trade trigger, why with Dallas slated to play four of their next five games in the friendly confines of the American Airlines Center.

After that, the going gets downright brutal: Beginning on January 2, 14 of the Mavs’ subsequent 19 tilts are on the road.

With just six games separating them and the No. 9 seed New Orleans Pelicans, the Mavericks can’t afford a protracted chemistry experiment. Which is exactly what makes their all-in trade so compelling.

Whatever Rondo lacks in three-point shooting—a crucial piece of the what’s become the league’s top-rated offense, per ESPN.com—his abilities as a distributor and defensive stopper are the kinds of skills one can plug into the equation without much worry about trial and error. 

As Dallas begins its desperate drive for a second title in five years, growing pains are bound to arise. Gifted as he is, Rondo’s idiosyncratic weaponry isn’t immune to the occasional backfire.

At the very least, though, Cuban’s latest coup proves the Mavericks are serious about making Nowitzki’s twilight as bright and bold as possible.

 

Saturday Takeaways:

Bench Pressing

Another week, another Western Conference team stepping forth to steal the spotlight.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Portland Trail Blazers. Owners of the West’s longest current winning streak (five games), the Blazers took care of business once again Saturday night, handing Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans a 114-88 browbeating (ha!) they won’t soon forget. Per coach Terry Stotts, via the team’s official Twitter account, it was an “impressive win”:

The usual suspects were all involved, of course, with LaMarcus Aldridge (27 points and 12 rebounds) and Damian Lillard (17 points and seven dimes) pacing the suddenly surging Blazers.

But it was Portland’s much-maligned bench—the league’s worst in each of the last two seasons, according to HoopsStats.com—that authored perhaps the most important contribution. To wit, all seven Blazers reserves contributed to the points column, with Chris Kaman and Thomas Robinson combining for 28 of Portland’s 48 bench points.

True, Portland’s platoon probably doesn’t even get the heavy workload if the starting five don’t take care of business. But such cynicism misses the larger point: The best teams tend to also have the best benches.

The Blazers have a ways to go before their second unit is mentioned in the same breath as, say, that of the San Antonio Spurs. But it’s certainly a start.

 

Oh, My-‘Lanta!

Looking at the first half of their December schedule, it was easy to dismiss the Atlanta Hawks as pretenders borne from a path of little resistance.

Yeah…not so much.

After opening the week with impressive wins over the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, the Hawks added yet another bold bullet point to their resume, dispatching the Houston Rockets 104-97—the team’s 12th win in its last 13 contests.

It was a characteristically balanced affair for Mike Budenholzer’s crew, with nine players tallying five points or more. That they did it without the services of their heady, steady floor general made it all the more impressive, as Kris Willis of PeachtreeHoops.com pointed out:

The Hawks have played the fewest Western Conference teams of any Eastern Conference squad to date—a fact that’s sure to fuel the fire of those who still consider Atlanta a team destined to reel screaming toward the mean.

But if their last three games are any bellwether, the Hawks are a team with the kind of cohesion and consistency any true contender must have. Even if everyone else has a hard time recognizing it.

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Rajon Rondo solid in debut as Mavs rally past Spurs

Rondo had six points, nine assists and seven rebounds in his first game with Dallas.

      
 

 

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Report: Jermaine O’Neal ‘intrigued’ about joining Mavs

 

Jermaine O’Neal looked like he was hanging up the sneakers at the beginning of the 2014-15 season. But the chance to join a loaded Dallas Mavericks team could convince the big man to make a comeback.
 
O’Neal is “highly intrigued” about the possibility of signing with the Mavericks after the team acquired point guard Rajon Rondo in a trade with the Boston Celtics on Thursday night, sources told ESPN.com on Saturday.
Dallas has a need for a player like O’Neal after shipping center Brandan Wright to Boston in the Rondo deal. Wright had been playing well in a backup role to starter Tyson Chandler, averaging 8.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game while playing 18.7 minutes per game.
O’Neal is expected to make a decision by early 2015 about whether he’ll play this season but now could decide sooner, according to ESPN. The network reports that the Cleveland Cavaliers, Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers also are interested in signing the 36-year-old.
If O’Neal does deci

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Rajon Rondo traded to Mavs for three players, picks

Rajon Rondo is headed to Dallas. After a 24-hour span of heavy negotiations and rumors, the Boston Celtics have finally agreed to a trade involving their franchise point guard. ESPN SportsCenter says the Mavs are sending Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson and two draft picks to Boston in return for Rondo and Dwight Powell….Read More

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Parsons scores 32, Mavs beat Pistons 117-106 (Yahoo Sports)

AUBURN HILLS, MI - DECEMBER 17: Devin Harris #20 of the Dallas Mavericks drives to the basket against the Detroit Pistons on December 17, 2014 at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan. (Photo by Allen Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — Chandler Parsons hasn’t adjusted to the Dallas Mavericks as quickly as he would have liked.


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Celtics talk Rondo trade with Mavs, Lakers, others

The Mavericks, Rockets, Kings, Lakers and Pacers have all spoken to the Celtics.

      
 

 

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Mavs rout Knicks in Chandler’s return to MSG (Yahoo Sports)

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 16: Carmelo Anthony #7 of the New York Knicks shoots the ball against the Dallas Mavericks on December 16, 2014 at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Tyson Chandler started training two weeks after last season, searching for a better result next time when he stepped on the floor at Madison Square Garden.


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WATCH: Mavs play keep-away with Marreese Speights’ shoe

The Golden State Warriors are currently blowing the doors off the Dallas Mavericks in a rare Saturday NBA matinee. Thus, we’ll focus on this humorous little incident involving Marreese Speights, Marreese Speights’ shoe, Steph Curry and Tyson Chandler. First, Speights loses his shoe. Then, his own teammate (Curry) tosses it to the sideline so as
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Warriors win team-record 15th straight, beat Mavs

Warriors win franchise-record 15th straight, Curry scores 29 in victory over Mavericks.

      
 

 

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Grizzlies’ Tony Allen Busts out Interesting Dance Move After Mavs Turnover

It’s OK to get a little excited when the other team commits a turnover.

Do more than that, and you’re bound to turn some heads.

During Tuesday night’s 114-105 home win over the Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies swingman Tony Allen busted out an interesting dance move after a Dallas turnover.

We know you need a closer look at this masterpiece.

[Vine]

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