Advanced Scouting: San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks
San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks 7:30 CST November 26, 2010
According to reports, Dirk Nowitzki, listed as day-to-day, is very likely to sit out of tonightâ€™s marquee match-up. Nowitzki had significant MVP momentum prior to his injury and his absence will dramatically help the Spurs chances. The last time these two teams met, my preview focused on Nowitzki offensively. Although Dirk is probably a little underrated defensively (he usually rates pretty well in defensive adjusted plus-minus), he isn’t really a defensive game-changer, so I’ll just explore how his absence impacts this game offensively.
What changes without Dirk?
Dirk Nowitki has been responsible for over two-thirds of the Mavericks offense from the post. He is also their top scorer on isolation plays. When Dirk is out of the lineup, Dallas figures to be a pick and roll team that has the ability to push the ball. Thus far in the season, the Mavericks rank 15th in scores derived from pick and roll possessions and 17th in points off transition opportunities despite placing only 22nd in the NBA in pace. For all the defensive contributions that Chandler and Haywood provide, they have only combined for 13 offensive points in the post this year. Nowitzki has scored 219 points in the post, himself. Jason Kidd is responsible for more scores off the transition than any other Mavs player, typically by way of assists. Kidd has created over 6 points per game by passes leading to fast break scores. Shawn Marion and Caron Butler also look to run and Jason Terry frequently shoots quick jumpers on the break. Kidd also ranks among the leaders in efficiency when running the pick and roll.
The Mavericks have scored 164 points from plays beginning with Kidd heading the pick and roll, but Kidd has only scored 40 of those points himself. As mentioned in my preview of the last Spurs-Mavs matchup , be ready for the pass when Kidd runs the pick and roll. Jason Terry typically becomes the Mavs top scoring option when Dirk is unable to go, as expected. Much of Terry’s half court offense derives from the pick and roll. He likes to use the screener to set up a jump shot. Juan Barea is more prone to try to get to the basket on pick and rolls (and in general). Expect the Mavericks to always play two players who frequently operate out of the pick and roll. At times they could play three. The Spurs will want to utlize their best pick and roll defenders, especially if Nowitzki is unable to go. The following list summarizes the success of Spurs perimeter players when matched up defensively with the pick and roll ballhandler:
|Player||Fraction of teams minutes||PER minus Counterpart PER||On court +/-per 48 minutes||Off court +/-per 48 minutes||2 Year Adjusted +/-|
With Dirk Nowitzki in the lineup, the Mavericks should be favored in this game. However, it looks like the Spurs will catch another break tonight. Without Dirk, the Mavs are closer to mediocre than exceptional, but should be helped by home court advantage. With Nowitzki, this game figures to be an uphill battle for the Spurs; without him it is still no walkover, but the Spurs should like their chances.