The Hive Five: Game Eighty-Two

WORDS: || AP (through NBA.com) || Five Observations ||

NUMBERS: || Box Score || Shot Chart || Play-by-Play ||

VIDEOS: || ESPN || NBA.com || Yahoo! ||

Well, that wasn’t how I drew up the finale.

Hilton Armstrong and Brandon Bass… kind of makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

I’ll start this recap by stating that this game doesn’t worry me in the slightest. Jason Kidd going 4-7 from three? Really? I’m letting him shoot it all night next time too. Dallas had an obscene number of bad passes deflected back into their own hands. Jason Terry made some absurdly difficult shots over outstretched hands. These are the types of things that even out over multiple games, and over a 7 game series. Obviously, it doesn’t look great to end the season on a losing note. But Chris Paul sat for almost 9 minutes in the second… and Hilton Armstrong got his own isolation play for crying out loud. I’m not blaming this on New Orleans “not trying.” But find me one person who thought this game had playoff-like intensity, from an energy standpoint, from a coaching standpoint, and from a shot selection standpoint, and I’ll bet you that person hasn’t watched the Hornets this year or the playoffs ever.

Let’s talk a little bit more about the 5 on 4 defense. J-Kidd was left wide open every single play, and this was obviously by design. Now Kidd isn’t the greatest of shooters, but I firmly believe that every Western team (Hornets included) has gone a little bit overboard in the “don’t guard Kidd” ploy. Give anybody, Jason Kidd even, 15 feet from the closest defender and enough time to do his taxes, and you’ll get burned. The defense can afford to cheat away from Kidd, or be a little slower in rotating on to him, but not running a guy at him won’t work. It’s great that we were able to find this out in a non-playoff game, as opposed to in Game 1. I expect some change in the way guys rotate onto Kidd, but not too much. Guarding Kidd like a regular point guard would be a definite overreaction, and we saw how those worked out for the Mavs last year.

The guy we’ll need to change our strategy for is Jason Terry. The former Hawk is very similar to Leandro Barbosa, who burned us earlier in the year, in that he can create his jumper at will, and drive quickly when you’re not paying attention. My solution? Put Jannero Pargo on him full time. Remember, back about a month and a half ago, when Pargo would pressure guards all the way up, and then faceguard them in the half-court? That is how you guard Jason Terry. The guy’s an exceptional shooter that needs but an inkling of space to release his jumper. Finally, we didn’t see “Dirk” Dirk tonight. Nowitzki has recovered a lot better from his injury than tonight may have let on- it was just a cold game from the floor, and counting on those missed shots Saturday would be very foolish. On a related note, you can cross-apply those same sentiments to Josh Howard. His shots weren’t falling either, but when he’s on, Howard’s an All-Star caliber player.

Pace

Eff

eFG

FT/FG

OREB%

TOr

NOR

89.0

110.1

48.8%

20.5

29.5

10.1

DAL

124.7

49.4%

25.8

31.8

7.9

1. Shooting () We took a surprisingly low number of threes, with Peja only taking 2. Take away the 5 threes CP attempted (almost all in rhythm), and that’s 7 attempted threes. Byron Scott also limited the gun-slinging ways of Jannero Pargo by limiting his minutes. And while Mike James had one slick take to the hoop, he finished just 1-6 from the floor, and I’d much rather have Pargo’s defense on the floor.

2. Turnovers () Stupid ESPN guys! They cursed us! Right when they started gushing about CP’s lack of turnovers, he immediately lost it twice. Oh well, I find it hard to fault the team turnover-wise. Other than Paul and Wright, the rest of the team had 3 turns. Dallas just did a better job of taking care of the basketball.

3. Offensive Rebounding (X) Our offensive rebounding was very good, but sadly our defensive rebounding wasn’t up to par. Brandon Bass had 7 (Seven!) offensive rebounds off the bench. That’s as many as Peja Stojakovic, David West, Tyson Chandler, and Bonzi Wells had combined. Hilton Armstrong was a beast for us, picking up 5 offensive boards. The real problem is that he doesn’t know what to do with it after he gets it. That needs to be a point of emphasis over the summer.

4. Free Throws () See above for my thoughts on the officiating; I can’t fault the team for something they can’t control. They made a conscious effort to draw contact, and they weren’t rewarded for it. That happens sometimes, and you live with it. Dallas, though, made sure it controlled what it control- free throw percentage. They went 23 for 25 from the line with one of the misses coming from an 86% foul shooter (Terry). The Hornets missed 6 out of 23 looks.

5. Pace (89) The pace was 89, right where you’d expect it. What did we learn from this game that can be extended to the playoffs? Not much, I contend. Paul sitting 9 minutes changed the game dynamic in a way Byron Scott would never allow in the playoffs. Dirk was a lot less intense (meaning he settled for jumpers often) than I expect him to be Saturday. The same goes for Josh Howard. Simply put, the big stars (Nowitzki, Howard, Paul) didn’t really play their normal games. On the other hand, Kidd can be expected to take a serious step back in a 7 game series. The one guy I expect to have similar nights in the playoffs was David West. Peja Stojakovic had the quietest 17 point night you’ll ever see, and the Hornets took way less triples than I think we’ll see in the first round. I’m sure Mavs Moneyball will point out analogous aspects that the Mavericks didn’t go all out in.

So with that, the regular season is over. It’s been an awesome ride blogging this year, and I’d like to thank my loyal readers for checking in all season. The playoffs are here, but I’ve also got some big plans for the blog itself in the near future. Thanks again!

WORDS: || AP (through NBA.com) || Five Observations ||

NUMBERS: || Box Score || Shot Chart || Play-by-Play ||

VIDEOS: || ESPN || NBA.com || Yahoo! ||

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4 Responses

  1. First off, I’ll say that I love the blog. Great analysis. I’m a life-long Mavs fan who was directed here from a Dallas blog. There’s not much worthwile in the blogosphere when it comes to the Mavs, so, I might be hanging around here for the series.

    Secondly, I’m a little confused about everyone’s perception of Jason Kidd as a shooter. His numbers from beyond the arc for the season are as good if not better than anyone else on the team, and if you look at his numbers since he came to Dallas, he’s been the most consistent outside threat the Mavs have got. Look, I know the guy isn’t a sniper out there, and he might be a little streaky at times, but I definitely don’t think you want to plan your defensive scheme around leaving him open when he’s shooting 46% percent from 3. I just don’t get it.

  2. At first I was upset by this game, because they let a decent lead get away. But more and more I’m convinced they were on a fishing expedition. I guess come Game 1 we’ll find out.

  3. @ the contact and non calls. That is directly a result of Leon Wood, you know, the non-officiating waste of space. God, that guy makes my skin crawl every time I see him on the floor officiating a game. He is terrible.

  4. @ Jay

    Welcome to the blog! You can check back all series. As far as Jason Kidd.. you bring some strong points I should’ve taken into consideration. A lot of perception of him is skewed by this: he hasn’t shot above 42% from the field since 1998. I think West teams have bought too much into the “Jason Kidd can’t shoot”, and the Hornets were the latest to fall victim to that thinking.

    @mikey and mW,

    The moral of the story: never go fishing with Leon Wood! Ahh… photoshop is calling…

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