Advanced Scouting: Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs


Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs 7:30 CST November 26, 2010

SRS ranks:

Dallas: 4.77 (7th)
San Antonio: 8.42 (2nd)

Key Player Statistics (courtesy of (effective November 21, 2010) and (effective November 20, 2010):

PlayerFraction of teams minutesPER minus Counterpart PER2 Year Net PEROn court +/-per 48 minutesOff court +/-per 48 minutes2 Year Adjusted +/-

Most valuable/utilized lineups:

Kidd,Terry,Butler,Nowitzki,Chandler +54 in 120 minutes

Barea,Terry,Marion,Nowitzki,Haywood +1 in 77 minutes

Kidd,Stevenson,Butler,Nowitzki,Chandler -1 in 44 minutes

Preferred method to create shots: Dirk Nowitzki on isolations/post ups

I’m sure I don’t need to go into great detail explaining to 48MoH readers that, yeah, Dirk is kinda good. It goes without saying; he’s got skills and can really shoot. Nowitzki ranks right up there with Kobe with his ability to take and make difficult jumpers. He scores the lion’s share of his baskets from 2 point jump shots.

The differentiation between Nowitzki’s “post” possessions and his “isolation” possessions is typically only how close he is to the basket when he catches the ball. According to Synergy, Dirk averaged 0.97 points per possession (80th percentile) on isolation derived possessions and 1.07 PPP (85th percentile) on post possessions in 2009/10.

In addition to a heavy dose of Dirk, the Mavs are also very good at applying the pick and roll. In particular, when Jason Kidd heads this play, the Mavs are near the most effective in the NBA. Additionally, Tyson Chandler is very good as the roll man. In pick and roll plays, the Mavs tend to roll early, before the ballhandler has a chance to run off the pick. Considering Chandler’s effectiveness rolling to the basket and Kidd’s tendency to look for others, the Spurs should pay special attention to the roll man.

Appropriate Spurs counter: Force Nowitzki to set up near the perimeter

48MoH has visited the issue of defending Dirk in the paint as recently as last season’s playoffs and there is no easy solution. (I wouldn’t get my hopes up for the Spurs to resign Bruce Bowen).

Last year, Bonner and McDyess defended Nowitzki in most situations. Dirk responded by driving on McDyess in isolation plays and trying to catch the ball deep against Bonner and shooting jumpers. He aggressively backed down other players such as Jefferson and Ginobili.

When Bonner defended Nowitzki, Synergy attributed nearly twice as many “Post Possessions” as “Isolation Possessions”. This ratio was reverse with McDyess. On isolations, Dirk drove or took pull-up jumpers less than 50% of the time against Bonner, but nearly 75% of the time against McDyess. (The difference in defensive effectiveness when Bonner and McDyess guarded Nowitzki was not obvious.)

Although it is difficult to keep such a clever, tall player from catching the ball, Matt Bonner should try to make Nowitzki catch the ball as far away from the basket as possible. When McDyess is assigned to cover Dirk, teammates should be ready to provide help if Nowitzki attacks the rim. Since Dirk spends much of his time in the middle of the half court set, defensive help and recovery should be easier than it is in most other situations. (Obviously, any player defending Dirk also needs to remember to stay disciplined in order to avoid silly reaching fouls he is so capable of drawing.)

Defensive Weakness: Defending off-ball screens

This year Dallas ranks 17th in points allowed per possession on screen plays. Last year, they were 29th. Jason Terry and Jose Barea have particularly struggled against this play type. Caron Butler, Jason Kidd and even Shawn Marion have also had difficulties defending players running off screens.

The Spurs have increased their points per possession on plays where their shooters run off screens from 0.81 PPP to 1.39 PPP (which, admittedly is not maintainable). Manu Ginobili has historically been very effective in this play type and Jefferson and Hill have also had success coming off screens.

In addition to their weakness defending players utilizing off-ball screens, Dallas is also mediocre defending the pick and roll. Parker and Ginobili are good options to attack this weakness.


The Spurs are going for their 13th victory in a row, but the Mavs are rarely a pushover. This is definitely a dangerous game, but I see no reason why the Spurs shouldn’t be favored to come out on top.

  • Mason

    The J-Kidd pick and roll is only effective because people don’t know how to play it. Kidd is an average at best jump shooter and can’t slash to the basket whatsoever. This is not an Amare/Nash pick and roll we are talking about here.

    Solution: go under the screen

  • vincegarcia

    the key here really is to keep nowitski under fifteen points. and let the bench beat the spurs. a solid performance by mcdyess and splitter is needed here to shut the down the paint for the mavericks. keep the mavericks shooting low percentage points form the outside, this will frustate them if they keep on mssing from the outside.
    do not let jason terry or jj barea steal important points. always contest for the shots.
    san antonio will kill them on transition. defensive rebound it a must.
    spurs by ten points or more

  • David G

    This is an fantastic early season game. Spurs on a good run facing a team that always gives them a run for their money. Even though I hate the Mavs I admire Dirk’s greatness.

  • miggy

    It appears to me that Dirk has yet to learn that getting his team hot is more important than getting off his own shot. If not for Timmy’s unselfishness the Spur’s may never have won a single championship.

    Ok, now. Let’s take down those Mav’s.

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  • Daniel T

    Hold Nowitzki under 15? I’m not sure the Spurs have ever done that. I think the object is to make Dirk have to shoot a lot and work hard to get to 35 points; while holding down the rest of the team.

  • DaveMann77

    Tough game tonight. I think the Mavs will be really fired up because of last year and the Spurs are due for an L. That being said I’m sure Pop knows this to and is figuring out a way to motivate the troops. I would like to see how Splitter does tonight defending Dirk Noswishski and Chandler. I hope Pop gives him some time tonight.


    I think that it will be very interesting to see if Tiago gets a good amount of playing time tonight. Other so far seeming to be an very good defender, he seems to have the skills to post a good defense against Dirk. He is tall and has long arms. He is quick and plays good positional defense. It will be interesting to see if Pop deploys him tonight with big minutes against Dirk, or if he saves him for later in the year and continues to build up his minutes throughout the year.

  • rj

    so if dallas is weak defending the pick and roll, will we see more of splitter tonight? with such a large frontline, i don’t see blair being very impactful in this game. also, tiago should get a shot at defending dirk, although dirk may get to the line easier.

  • Jim Henderson

    If we continue to lose the rebound battle as we have in the last two games, we are asking for a loss. As a result, we cannot afford to play Blair less than 10-15 minutes in this game (DeJuan has to be on his game though defensively, and limit early foul trouble), even though the defensive match-ups will be tough (for all of our bigs, not just Blair). I expect to see a heavier dose of McDyess in this game (because of the defensive match-ups and his rebounding), and also some of Bonner & Splitter, and who’s ever playing better during their first 5-10 minutes on the court will see more playing time.

  • Len

    I guess DeJuan will guard Tyson tonight. Let’s hope he doesn’t get lobbed over for a Tyson slam. I really want DJB to do well and tonight is a good starting point. If he can use his strength to limit Tyson’s game, I’ll be pleased.

  • grego

    If Spurs are getting burned, you have to take Blair out. This is why Spurs are getting hurt in the 1st quarter, usually.

    Dallas did not have Chandler last year. That makes a huge difference between Blair vs. last year’s team and this year’s team.

  • ThatBigGuy

    I expect to see quite a bit of Splitter today, especially guarding Dirk. I think he’s quick enough to stay in front of Dirk, but it’s still going to be a rookie vs the best shooting big ever. I also expect Blair to be riding the pine because of the size of Dirk/Chandler/Haywood. The only way Blair stays in the game is if he uses his quickness and low center of gravity to make things tough on Dirk. At this point, I only give Blair a 14% chance, though, so he may be in warm-ups for 40 mins.

    Our shots have to fall at a normal rate tonight. If they don’t, we’ll be 13-2. If they do, I’m not sure many teams can beat us, including the Mavs.

  • David G

    Can’t wait to see McDyess, Bonner, Neal, Ginobili and Hill against the Dallas Zone

  • ribanez1

    Nice 12 games streak but it’s over. These are the teams they have to beat. Ginobili came to play but Tim is still asleep and so is Parker. Sometimes I wish Tim showed more emotion but that is who he is and part and parcel of what is made him great all these years. This is a tough loss ! The Spurs can blame themselves for this one with so many turnovers. Again, when pressured and forced to drive the Red Rocket throws up bricks. I can not recount in recent memory how many games the Mavericks have won against the Spurs wherein Jason Terry starts out poorly but towards the end he makes the shots when it counts. Why doesn’t Pop force the ball out of the hands of Nowitzki and Terry when it counts. Both look like they are target practicing out there. Both have a comfort zone against the Spurs when it’s crunch time that is lacking when they play against some of the other elite teams. I don’t get it !

  • Thaddeus Clark

    Polite Request: stop predicting victories based on your calculations – both this advanced scouting and vs. MN predicted victories – one was a near loss, another an actual loss. Stop jinxing the Spurs man!

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