LOS ANGELES -- Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle made this proclamation Sunday before the team headed to L.A.:
"We're ready. We're ready."
The Mavs have spent a lot of time talking about being ready with a physical presence against the big, strong front line of the Los Angeles Lakers. They've talked about being ready to keep their cool when things heat up. But, perhaps the most important aspect for the Mavs as they begin this monumental second-round series is making sure they're ready to do what's necessary to spread the scoring wealth.
“Offensively,” Nowitzki said, “I don’t think it’s a secret that we want to play off each other and share the ball.”
The Mavericks failed to get at least four players scoring in double figures 17 times during the regular season and they were 7-10 in those games.
Conversely, they went 50-15 when four or more scored in double figures. Remarkably, that didn’t happen in four of the six first-round games against the Portland Trail Blazers. The Mavs managed to pull out two victories, Game 1 -- when they trailed by six points with six minutes to play -- and Game 6 -- when Portland trailed just 86-85 with five minutes to play after being down 17 eight minutes earlier.
The Mavs know an offense that holds the ball, that force-feeds Dirk Nowitzki and doesn’t get scoring from every position against an opponent that is deeper, more talented, more versatile and more explosive than the last one will almost assuredly be doomed to a quick exit.
The Mavs are at their offensive best when the ball whips around the perimeter, gets inside to a slashing Shawn Marion for a soaring one-hander and lands in the hands of a leaping Tyson Chandler for a two-handed, spread-eagle slam dunk.
“We got a veteran ballclub and we feel the more the ball moves we’re a little bit [more] in a sense of a dangerous team because it just doesn’t sit on Dirk or Jet,” Jason Kidd said. “We’ve got guys that can put the ball in the basket and when multiple guys touch it we feel good things are going to happen.”
Three times Marion was held in single digits in the first round. Chandler scored 16 points combined in the first four games and 23 in the last two.
“Yes, yes,” Marion answered emphatically when asked if ball movement is a must against the exceptional length and athleticism of the Lakers. “When everybody’s involved we’re at our best. When we’re sharing the ball, moving the ball like that, I think we probably move the ball the best in the league.”
That’s not just Marion’s opinion. It’s fact. When Dallas reeled off19 wins in 21 games from late January to early March – losing both times on buzzer-beaters -- they scored 100 or more points in 19 games and 12 in a row to cap the run.
In the Jan. 19 win over the Lakers, Dallas scored 109 points and five players in double figures, three with at least 20. In the two March losses, the Mavs averaged 86.5 points and both times had just three scorers in double figures.
What then is the formula to get four or more scoring in double digits?
“We have to get stops and get out in the open court,” Kidd said. “But, in our halfcourt we’ve got to, again, not just look at the one option [Nowitzki] and make sure other guys are touching it. We’ve got guys that can all put the ball in the basket. When we take a bad or a tough shot it just helps out our opponent, makes it a little bit easier for them.”