The 2012 Dallas Mavericks: 33 Storylines from 33 Games

A (Wait, It's Already Midseason?) Midseason Report

20 The Art of the Steal. With a slight tweak in approach and some minor personnel changes, the Mavs can suddenly do something they once couldn't: create turnovers.

Historically, the Mavs' defense has been built on grinding down the shot clock and forcing bad shots. But this year's defense has been able to rack up steals without sacrificing those crucial defensive fundamentals. Gone are positional defenders like J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson, and in their place are the long, active arms of West and Beaubois, who, together with Kidd, are among the league's elite thieves.

But the key is depth. Last season, only two regulars (Kidd and Terry) had steal-per-possession rates of 1.9 percent or better. This season they have five.


21 Lamar Odom Philosophizes. Example: "It's humbling. It's a humbling game. It's a humbling experience. Life is the same way. You can win the jackpot, and then lose somebody close to you. Basketball is life. I'll continue to live, be a better man and be a better basketball player as well."


22 Um, Jason, Where Were You Throwing That? One amusing development of Kidd's season: the all-too-frequent bafflingly bad pass. It's apparently become his mission to throw one terrible pass every other game (bonus points if it results in an embarrassing turnover). He'll try to thread a full-court outlet through three defenders. He'll pass in anticipation of feeding a back-door cutter, only to see no Maverick cutting and his pass fly out of bounds. They get worse as they go, each an apparent effort to upstage the last. Hey, even a short regular season is long. Maybe the best way to make it manageable is to create a game within the game.


23 I'll Kill What He's Killing. I'm not sure what poor animals Carter is sacrificing to the pagan god of dunks to maintain his incredible hops, but I'll have two of 'em. Some things in life are just worth senseless, ritualized slaughter, and jaw-dropping slams happen to be one of them.


24 Hey Lamar, It's Cool with Us if You Want to Sit By Khloe During the Fourth Quarter. Oddly, Odom hasn't really cracked the Mavs' late-game rotation. Nowitzki, Terry and Kidd are naturally staples, alongside Marion or Carter. But rather than lean small with Odom at "center" (positions hardly matter on the final possession), Carlisle has consistently chosen either Mahinmi or Wright. There's nothing wrong with that, but considering the hype and Odom's delicate temperament, it's worth watching.


25 More Videos, Please. The American Airlines Center is a cathedral of modern in-game entertainment. Yet hidden among the endless stream of distractions is the true gem of the entire package: the Mavs' own creative department, responsible for some of the most fantastic and well-produced video segments in the sporting world. Dramatic readings of bad pop songs, weird videos with bad pop songs — if you hear shitty pop music, rest easy that the Mavs are lurking somewhere with iMovie at the ready.


26 Reunited and it Looks So Good. The mercenary dynamic of pro sports has created an illusion that players are "plug-and-play" components of a team concept, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Team chemistry is organic; it can't be rushed, faked or created on a whim. It comes when it comes. Yet Carter's arrival in Dallas came without issue or delay — as if his chemistry with Kidd back from their shared days in New Jersey had been bottled and distributed among the roster for convenience.


27 Actually, They're All Old — Let Them Rest. There's no glamour in the distribution of NBA minutes, but Carlisle deserves credit for managing to rest all of his players despite Dallas' rough start. It would have been easy to overreact and ride his top contributors out of desperation, but only two Mavericks — Nowitzki and Terry — are averaging more than 30 minutes a night. Age and the pace of the season were working against the Mavs, but Carlisle's early-season restraint should keep the Mavs' legs fresh for all those cool late-season videos they're planning.


28 Dude, Get That Looked At. For the squeamish out there: Don't pay too much attention to Marion's left pinky finger. Nothing to see here. Move along.


29 He's Aliiiiiiive. There's no joy in watching Nowitzki struggle, but it was interesting to watch him gradually piece together his patented fadeaway jumper over the course of the first half. On opening night, Nowitzki was clearly in no position to carry the burden of an entire offense; he managed 21 points, but he struggled to create his own looks, and seemed oddly incapable of hitting wide-open jump shots. Something was amiss, and about a month later, the Mavs pulled Nowitzki so he go through the prep that he was denied by the shortened preseason.

When he returned late last month, he still didn't bear much resemblance to 2011 Dirk. Instead, the process of his revival came gradually over the course of four games, as he returned to form layer by layer. He started finding his comfort zones at the top of the key, the elbow and the wing. He worked more diligently to back down his man, and started to look comfortable employing his patented spin moves and pump fakes. He started to put the ball on the floor again to keep defenses honest, a move that creates more space for that crazy, fading jumper. Bit by bit he recreated a familiar world where the jumper, the drive and the drawn foul exist in perfect harmony.


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9 comments
Josh's broken records
Josh's broken records

Nice looksie at the little Mavs. Bob or Tone should pimp it on Unfair Park..I found it on the national list.

Darrylrs
Darrylrs

helthy? in #8? editor, please?

spell check
spell check

#9...Here? Seriously? Does anyone edit these things?

Mavwreck
Mavwreck

Take it easy on Rob M's spelling, will ya?

Someone's gotta step up and do some sports in the next few months!

Joe Tone
Joe Tone

An editor, a copy editor and a proofreader, in fact. We all suck. It's fixed. My self-esteem will take a while longer to put back together.

Mervis
Mervis

But now that the Mavs are helthy again, Beaubois can't carve out much space for himself.

 
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