Remember that time the Mavericks went 2-8 in a ten game stretch? It's tough to forget a run like that. This is what it looked like in numbers.
Dallas Mavericks: February 22nd through March 10th of 2012
The Mavs' opponents from February 22nd to March 10th of this year are a combined 29 games under .500. The Mavericks went 2-8 in that stretch. Let's take a look at just how many things went wrong during this nightmarish tailspin.
which would qualify for 25th in the league and down from their season average of 94.3.
which is up from their season average of 92.3 this season.
WORST: 24 point loss (111-87) at Golden State March 10th
down from their season average of 43.7%
up from 42.5% allowed on average this season
WORST: 36% shooting vs New Jersey vs February 28th
54.1% allowed vs Golden State March 10th
FT attempted per game: 18.9
down from 20.7 attempts per game average this season
OPPONENT FT attempts per game 22.3
actually down a touch from 23.3 average per game this season
WORST: outshot 33 to 10 at the free throw line March 5th vs Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma City game was by far their best defensive effort but they were bludgeoned to death at the free throw line.
up from 22.3 on average this season
OPPONENT 3's taken per game 20.2
steady with their season average of 19.9
WORST: 32 3's attempted vs the Lakers (8 made-- 25%) February 22nd. Shot 17.4% (4 of 23) from beyond the arc February 29th vs Memphis in a loss.
Run this through your brain and see if it computes: the 20th best 3 point shooting team in the league takes the 3rd most threes per game. Seems like a disastrous equation, right? They like the 3 so much they decided to crank up 2 more a game in that ten-game stretch. A little over a quarter (27.2%) of all shots taken by Dallas Mavericks this season have been 3 point attempts.
Now for a study in proximity.
The closer you are to the basket the easier shot you have. By easier I mean the more likely that you will make your attempt. So how much difference do you think being 1.2 feet closer to the basket would make? I'd say about 3.8% difference. The Dallas Mavericks average attempt over that ten game stretch was 13.91 feet from the basket. Their opponents averaged a 12.75 foot shot in that ten game stretch. The difference between FG% was exactly 3.8. Here's data on every shot taken in a Dallas Maverick game from Feb 22nd-March 10th. *
MAVS 1STQ AVERAGE: 13.2353FT
OPPONENT 1STQ AVERAGE: 12.0316FT
MAVS 2NDQ AVERAGE: 13.269FT
OPPONENT 2NDQ AVERAGE: 13.352FT
MAVS 3RDQ AVERAGE: 14.181FT
OPPONENT 3RDQ AVERAGE: 12.681FT
MAVS 4THQ AVERAGE: 14.994FT
OPPONENT 4THQ AVERAGE: 13.936FT
*No attempts over 30ft and within 3 seconds of the end of a quarter were tallied
The most staggering number that may pop out is that fourth quarter distance of 14.994ft per attempt, but one must remember that the Mavericks lost 8 out of these 10 games. They were launching from anywhere on the court that might cash in 3 points a large portion of the time.
The thing that is most troublesome to me is the third quarter differential. The Mavs' opponents were getting a foot and a half closer to the basket on average in the third quarter. In fact, during their 8 losses in that stretch the Mavs allowed 51.475% defensively from the field in those third quarters. Old legs, compressed schedule, half time hangover; call it whatever you want -- I'm just telling you it's happening.
The worst defensive quarter in terms of proximity and penetration was against New Orleans March 2nd, when the Mavs let the Hornets get in the paint for an average shot that was 9.23ft from the basket in the second quarter. If Tyson Chandler is standing there waiting to smother any defensive lapses like a long-limbed 7'1 fire extinguisher, does this happen? I really don't have the answer for you, but I do know that it is definitely happening. And we can do little to stop it.
I can tell you this much about getting to the basket. The Mavericks don't get to the basket unless it is the result of a called play, and in turn an assist. The Mavericks require an assist on 57% of their close shot attempts and on 86% of their dunks.
What does that mean? I'll show you. Teams playing Dallas only require assists on 44% of their close shots and 71% of their dunks. You've probably realized that the Mavericks' opponents get to the rack much easier than the Mavs could ever dream of. There's the proof.
You would think with a stretch of teams that combine to be 29 games under .500 on your schedule, the idea would be to make hay. The Mavericks instead lost 8 of 10 and swiftly redefined their season and mental state. How does this all happen? Well, I just gave you the numerical carbon footprint.
Mike Marshall is a producer and reporter for Sports Radio 1310, The Ticket (KTCK). He's also a writer, amateur rockstar and libertarian. He's not an actual sports machine, but impersonates one super-well.
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