Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Minutes, Minutes, Minutes

Something to watch for in tonight’s game is whether Avery finally gets over his urge to give useless playing time to Jerry Stackhouse and JJ Barea. (Mike Fisher at dallasbasketball.com has great analysis this week, and he raises and answers a lot of these questions about minutes.) The Mavericks need at least two scorers on the court the entire night, and they already have the minutes to do that -- if Avery has the will to follow through.

Here are the average minutes that have been played by Dallas’ top players so far this series:
  • Dirk: 40.8 minutes
  • Howard: 35.0 minutes
  • Kidd: 35.0 minutes
  • Terry: 34.0 minutes
Since I'm not an NBA coach, I welcome someone to correct me if I'm wrong on this, but what jumps out at me is that, between Dirk, Howard, and Terry, that’s only 34 minutes of rest, which means there is no reason for more than one of them to be out of the game at any given time. Which means there is no reason not to have two scorers on the floor for every minute of the game. If Avery just bumped Terry and Howard up to 36 minutes each, he could rest Dirk the last four minutes of the first and third quarters, rest Terry the first six minutes of the second and third quarters, and rest Howard the last six minutes of the second quarter and the first six minutes of the fourth quarter. Or something like that.

Then just make sure that Kidd is in the game all the minutes that Terry is out, and you (1) always have a viable point guard on the floor, (2) always have two scorers on the floor -- that is, assuming Howard remembers how to score at some point, and (3) have all four of your best guys playing together the first six minutes and the last six minutes of the game.

If you figure those 40 minutes for Dirk and 36 each for Kidd, Howard, and Terry, then that leaves 92 minutes for the rest of the team. Then maybe 26 minutes for Dampier, 30 for Bass (at center for the 22 minutes Dampier is on the bench, and at power forward for the 8 minutes Dirk is on the bench), and then 36 minutes for the other swing men: Maybe 16 minutes for Devean George, 12 for Eddie Jones, and 8 for Jerry Stackhouse--always with two other scorers on the court.

Or better yet: I don't know exactly how much rest the 4 stars need, but if you give Dirk, Kidd, Terry, and Howard 40 minutes each for tonight's game (it is an elimination game, after all), then you only need 32 minutes of rest total among the four of them. That means you can have all four guys on the court for the first 8 minutes and the last 8 minutes of the game, and then you have three of the four on the court the entire rest of the game.

That also means you can cut an additional 12 minutes from George, Jones, and Stackhouse -- which would probably mean dropping Jones from the lineup altogether.

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