Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Not off the hook

A few of the Mavericks’ coaching gaffes (a couple perhaps up for dispute) from the startling win over Phoenix:
  • Middle of first quarter -- Avery takes Dirk out of the game when he gets his second foul, even though Avery admits in an interview a few minutes later that Dirk is great at avoiding fouling out of games. Dirk finished with 4 fouls in 38 minutes.
  • End of 1st quarter (as db.com points out): Dallas has time to hold for the final shot, but Jason Terry shoots too early, which gives Phoenix time for a good shot.
  • After the Phoenix rebound, Dallas has a foul to give, which could break up the flow of that final play for Phoenix; instead, Dallas doesn’t foul, and Phoenix gets a bucket.
  • End of 2nd quarter: Nash figures out that Dallas is going to give a foul, so he starts his drive early, leaving enough time after the foul for Phoenix to get a good shot. Who wants to guess that Avery was screaming across the floor (where Nash could hear it) that Dallas should give a foul?
  • Start of second half, Dallas gives up two quick baskets, and Avery calls a timeout less than 2 minutes into the quarter. Isn't it at least partly the coach's responsibility if the team starts the second half not ready to play?
  • As Dallas is getting repeatedly burned by the pick-and-roll, Jeff Van Gundy says they should be giving up the open 3-pointer, but not uncontested dunks.
  • Late 3rd quarter: Mark Jackson points out that no one on Dallas is talking on the court about how to make defensive adjustments. Wouldn’t a well-coached team be doing that when they’re getting burned repeatedly?
It was embarrassing as a fan to listen to two sharp commentators (Jackson and Van Gundy) pick the Mavericks to pieces, and it was coaching decisions they repeated criticized, even if they weren’t using Avery’s name. Now admittedly, part of this is just the way that NBA coverage always work: if you’re winning, every decision is good, and if you’re losing, every decision is bad.

But still, for most of the game it seemed clear that Dallas was simply not playing like a team that is well-prepared, and as a result, I think Johnson should still be taking heat despite the win. The Suns missed their share of open shots this time, and Mavs fans all know that you can’t count on getting that kind of luck in the playoffs. Details matter a great deal, and I think it’s clear that Johnson still needs to figure some of them out.


micah said...

I won't contest much of this but you really think Van Gundy is a sharp commentator? He usually drives me crazy.

scoots said...

Maybe I'm just too influenced by the Sports Guy, who's raved about him recently, but Van Gundy does make some astute observations, like the one I mentioned.

micah said...

You might be right. All I can remember of him is his complaining about legit fouls that shouldn't be fouls. Of course I've been watching most game on tivo and fast forwarding a lot.

Brad Cranford said...

I get the impression JVG *could* be a good commentator if he didn't feel the need to talk so much.

He comes up with some really great points that reminds you that he really knows the current players and systems.

And then he makes a lot of goofy comments that are obvious exaggerations or just plain silly. At those times, I feel like he is trying to be Dicky V or something. Painful.

Less is more Jeff. Less is more.

Bethany said...

Why was the win startling? Because the Mavs played poorly? But I've seen games with you where they play well, and look razor sharp (until the last two minutes) and they still lose. Are those games startling? You seem to expect the Mavs to lose when they play well, so why not expect them to win when they play badly? How the Mavs play during the majority of the game doesn't seem to be what determines winning or losing (to my very preliminary understanding of Mavericks basketball). In the end, it looks to me that you just have to roll the bones.

Jeremy said...

Last night was a classic example of why I say the things I do about Dirk. He can hit a shot like that when there is no pressure. I want to see him do it when the Mavs are down by 2.